Local and State Homeless News

         Cleveland Men’s Shelter: Cleveland now boasts a shelter that averages 600 men per night with a legal capacity of 400 people. The shelter has a very short time until the contract runs out with the County. Word is that negotiations are not going well, and the result could be a significant decline in the number of men served. There is no plan for what to do with the 150-200 men that show up who could be turned away by the shelters per night. Tensions at the shelter are starting to heat up again between staff and residents.

          Cincinnati panhandling assault: Cincinnati has posted signs in all the windows of local businesses discouraging panhandling, and is debating passing strong laws against panhandling. The assault on the street newspaper seems to have died down.

          Cleveland Women’s Shelter: Catholic Charities which runs the women’s overflow shelter was stung with a sex scandal at the women’s shelter, which caused them to withdraw from oversight of the shelter. The shelter grew from 75 women per night last year to 110 per night this year. After the priest sex scandal, and then a local nursing home scandal, the sex scandal was too much for the shelter. Catholic Charities will ask the shelter to move by September. Conditions at the facility are bad, but the County were able to find alternative housing for most of the families with children.

         Tom Mullen, Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities, said that the Cosgrove would return to a day shelter and meal site.

          NIMBY problems: Cleveland has had a rash of neighborhoods rise up against the shelters and homeless supportive housing programs as detailed in the last Grapevine. Recently, two supportive housing projects were killed. The city had set aside $1 million for these projects, but could not seal the deal before the state tax credit deadline in March. Experts cite the lack of a plan and the gross misperceptions with regard to homelessness, which caused the Mid Town Development Corporation and Channel 5 to object to an apartment building being developed on Euclid Ave to house formerly homeless people. City Hall backed down from their commitment of the project, and with a very short timeline for approval the projects died.

          Cleveland is planning a pilot non-profit hiring hall for this summer. The union, religious and non-profit collaboration will serve 25 people this summer and will feature salaries of $8-$10 per hour.

          The NEOCH proposal to assist homeless people into housing was the only program turned down in the last Continuum of Care federal funding application. As detailed in the last Grapevine the Bridging the Gap program and Community Voice Mail were turned down for funding by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Congressman Kucinich tried to appeal, but HUD denied the appeal. Local officials provided very little help in the effort to turn around the HUD decision. HUD did fund a project that has been closed for over one year. Kucinich is demanding a meeting with senior HUD staff.

         Terri Hamilton Brown recently resigned from the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, which has in the past resulted in program spinning into temporary chaos. There are 9,000 people on the waiting list for 9,000 units in the current inventory. Therefore if every single current tenant were evicted, CMHA still could not house all the people on the waiting list.

          Under the headline of paybacks are hell, Cleveland was specifically cited in the Bush budget for receiving too much Community Development Block Grant funding, because Mayor Campbell complained about the formula. CDBG funding pays for neighborhood improvement and some social services for low income people. The budget specifically mentioned three similarly sized cities that added together do not equal the amount of funds that Cleveland receives. There is some old formula that involves age of the housing stock and poverty.

          An update on the two planning efforts being conducted and reviewed in the last Grapevine to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness locally: Kucinich staff have convened two follow up meetings and have sent out a survey. Results will be discussed in the next issue. City Council—nothing.

          Ohio is facing a $4 billion deficit, and the budget passed by the House will mean over $10 million in cuts to housing and shelters. Legislators did not get a dedicated revenue source for the state trust fund. Local County recorder, Patrick O’Malley lobbied state officials against a recordation fee to pay for a housing trust fund. This is unusual for a man who claimed to grow up in public housing would not see the value of developing affordable housing.

         NEOCH, the Cleveland Tenants Organization and the Alliance of Cleveland HUD tenants brought two busloads of homeless people and tenants down to the state house to lobby. They met with all the legislators from Northeast Ohio. Despite the lobby attempt, both Michael Debose and Lance Mason of Cleveland and Shaker Hts. voted for the budget which will devastate housing and homeless programs. Still no word from Michigan with regard to the Grapevine request to buy Cleveland from Ohio. Editors and vendors are talking about asking Pennsylvania now to buy Cleveland for a sale price of $4.5 billion.

  Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio published April 2003 Issue 60