Biting the Hand That Feeds You


by Pete Domanovic

            I am now living in a shelter owned and operated by the Salvation Army, I only need to pay $112.00 per month service fee. Ooh-wee. I am treated with respect, and can make my own decisions about my own life. If I need to work a third shift job, go for it.

The place itself is clean and comfortable, the other clients are easy to get along with, and you can see in their faces that they are not stressed. It would be great if they used it as a national showplace for homeless shelters.

            The most positive thing it has going for it is, the clients are not assigned to any type of caseworker, nor do they have any type of straw boss hanging over their shoulder. Nope, not present. Was this the brainwork of one of the Salvation Army thousands of Administrative Director? No it was not. The Salvation Army had fourteen people left over from their limit of 400 people, and no more extra shelter room in the city. With no where else to put these people, they handed the keys to this building to a [member of the National Service program]. His name is Henry.

            They told him to take these people over there and make them do this and that, until the place is livable. Well, Henry (formerly homeless himself), knew how biting words never drew much enthusiasm from anyone that was being made to do something. Henry asks politely and even joins in on the work. He is constantly frustrated by never receiving anything needed on time, or not at all from the Salvation Army. To this day Henry is told there no money, even from the service fees from 38 people (about $4,000.00 per month).

            This money you can multiply by 5 for the money from President Bush; show me twenty percent and I’ll give the rest. The total for that building and the PASS program were combined to total $1.2 million dollars. Outside the building is 75 parking spaces, strictly for the use of the Salvation Army Headquarters Building staff. In those parking spaces, all are full 5 days a week, between 8am and 5pm park 75 near new, and some luxury automobiles. Those seventy five automobiles have seventy five homes (not inner city) to go to. ( I’ll bet ten dollars to a donut that no homeless person has ever ridden in one of those cars ). It’s a good thing that $1.2 million dollars is only a trickle from Clevelanders donations. Otherwise what would the Sal Army do in New York or England without our support? This is all known as administrative costs.

            To justify administrative costs at the building I stay in, three people from the Sal Army come over for about fifteen minutes at 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. One offers housing opportunities, job opportunities, and saving plans. The housing they offer is CMHA. We have a better chance at the lottery, and if we’re not in there by now, we’re not getting in. The job link is the hiring hall, which actually found three people full time jobs. The hiring hall hasn’t been open since October, 2003. The savings plans offered is good and should be implemented in any and all of the shelters.

            It seems this entire city is run by outsiders, people who have no real interest in what is Cleveland. Whenever I hear that we have to hire from outside for expertise from our creepy politicians, something is really wrong with this picture. We really need to start looking here for the things we need. This summer I will be helping to campaign for local agencies to gain support , so Clevelanders can help Clevelanders, and not ship our resources to New York.

Editor’s Note: As with all the commentaries including every thing from our good friend, Pete, the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Grapevine or the publisher of the newspaper.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64