Local and State Updates on Homelessness

      The Cleveland Free Times published its “Look on the Bright Side! 75 Good Things about Another Bush Administration!” The tongue and cheek look at the next four years with such prophetic digs as “After four years of Bush, Cleveland is already the poorest city in the USA. With four more years, we’ve got a real shot at number one in the industrialized world!! Woo hoo! In your FACE, Detroit!” Our favorite had to be number 58. “The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless will become an incredibly potent entity when it represents more than half of Cleveland’s population.” Staff of NEOCH could only say, “Woo hoo! In your FACE, Quiet Crisis!”

Grapevine Hires Staff

     Over the last six years, the Homeless Grapevine has declined to the point that the Board of the Publisher of the paper was on the verge of closing the newspaper. We received support from a number of religious organizations to move forward in stabilizing the paper. To that end, we are hiring a staff person to work full time on finding new vendors, new volunteers, and construct an advertising program for long term sustainability. With the help of the AmeriCorps National Service program, the Homeless Grapevine has hired an individual to work on rejuvenating the program, and breathing new life into the street newspaper. It is hoped that the paper will publish on a monthly basis beginning in 2005.

2100 Lakeside Shelter

     The County and Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry is in the last days of negotiating a contract to begin January 1, 2005. The relatively quick transition seems ambitious, but the Salvation Army has casually gone about withdrawing their logos and other property in preparation for the change. The County did purchase the building recently, and is expected split the cost with the City in 2005 when they have money. Staff and residents are anxious to make the transition. County officials have declared that they intend to “do no harm,” and make the shelter better next year. City and County officials reportedly meet weekly to discuss the shelter situation, and County officials are proposing no cuts to the shelter in the face of a 4.3% cut in every other county department.

Homeless Memorial Day

     Homeless activists across the state have formed a new group called the Ohio Coalition of Homeless Advocates have begun meeting to discuss sustainability, civil rights issues, and collaboration within the State of Ohio. The first joint activity is the 2004 Homeless Memorial Day to remember those who have passed away. Coalitions in Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and Cleveland will all participate on December 21, 2004 with a candlelight vigil and the reading of the names of people who died over the last year struggling with homelessness. In Columbus, Coalition members will gather out the Statehouse at dusk, and then will join with members of the homeless community for a light meal.

Cleveland will have a traditional candlelight vigil, a group of interfaith ministers and clergy and a short talk at St. Patrick’s church on Bridge Avenue on the near West Side of Cleveland. Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless members will read the list of names of those who have passed away during the past year.

Panhandling Legislation Coming

     City officials informed the Office of Homeless Services that they will most likely be introducing legislation making it illegal to “aggressively” solicit money in Downtown. There is currently no legislation addressing panhandling in Cleveland, unfortunately there are also no people downtown to support the craft of panhandling. The few businessmen and women that venture Downtown feel put upon because those in need are beginning to outnumber those with good paying jobs. The Grapevine will track this legislation.

Freakishly Green Shelter Site

     Cleveland activists went down to Columbus to learn about the problems faced by homeless people in the State Capitol. The big issue in Columbus is the closing of the entry shelter or overflow shelter called the Open Shelter which ran into gentrification problems. The City and business leaders wanted the shelter to move and offered a sweet deal, but the shelter refused and in July the building was taken by the City. The Columbus Shelter Board tried to relocate the 100 men who utilized the shelter, but this was impossible because of the rules and requirements of the rest of the shelter system.

     The City of Columbus took down the building in July in an abandoned section of the City across the Sciota river next to the Center of Science and Industry complex. The former lot of the Open Shelter was turned into a freakishly green grassy lot. Amidst old fields, surface lots and an old railroad overpass there is one lot of incredibly deep green well maintained grass with a small fence that is all that is left of the Open Shelter. The former residents huddle under the overpass, out of sight mocked by the deep green where a shelter once stood.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #67 December 2004 Cleveland Ohio