Currently, there is a debate in Cleveland about the future of the two Veterans Administration facilities in Cleveland. There is the Louis Stokes Wade Park hospital in University Circle, and the Brecksville campus with a domiciliary for homeless veterans. There is talk of expanding the Wade Park hospital and closing the expansive Brecksville facility. While we support reducing government waste, we do not agree that there is any surplus property in the Veterans Affair’s inventory. In the alcohol and drug system, switching from inpatient to outpatient has had a devastating impact on people in need of help without the proper insurance. In Cleveland, we now only have a handful of inpatient beds available to homeless people who are not attached to the Corrections system.
At this time, over 30% of the male homeless population are veterans. With the recent use of armed forces, we can only assume that a portion of those coming back from the Middle East will become homeless. We at the Grapevine would argue that that “empty, decaying real estate,” as they were characterized by the Plain Dealer, could be put to good use housing homeless veterans and getting them back on their feet. Imagine a country in which respect the work of defending our country to the point that we guarantee no veteran will ever become homeless. No matter if they are addicted, mentally ill, or unemployed, our country should guarantee a veteran housing.
Before we rush headlong into the closing of a veterans facility, shouldn’t the community figure out anticipated need, and assure that the existing veterans who are experiencing homelessness are taken care of? Brecksville is a beautiful complex that could be used as a healing environment as an alternative to the overcrowded shelters in Cleveland for veterans.
Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2003.