by Jeremy Sidhu
Not much has changed at Y-Haven, a West Side shelter that, since the closing of the YMCA at 3200 Franklin Boulevard, offers assistance to rehabilitate homeless men. At one time, both facilities occupied the same building in Ohio City.
The YMCA has received much criticism for the closing of the facility, but the shelter remains and has a federal contract through 2006. The YMCA is fiscal agent to the Y-Haven shelter. The counselors at Y-Haven were advised not to answer any questions regarding the current status of the operation. Chip Joseph, Executive Director of Y-Haven, was frank in addressing all queries. He simply noted that with the extension granted to the facility there is little about which to worry.
According to Joseph, Y-Haven will remain open through 2006.
It seems that the closing of the Ohio City YMCA has had a minimal impact on the day-to-day affairs of the men living at Y-Haven. One requirement for the men is to fulfill five or more hours of community service per week. Many of the men at Y-Haven would perform their community service at the YMCA and also had access to its recreational facilities. Prior to the closing of the YMCA, the men living there could conveniently descend two flights of stairs to volunteer or workout. Now, however, they must find places that will accept them, as well as their status, and give them to build a trusting relationship.
This poses a problem for the men in that they must depart with the security they find at Y-Haven. As one Y-Haven resident pointed out, “The real challenge begins when you leave the building…sometimes it’s not easy to walk by a liquor store or the same people you used to get high with.”
In addition, many of the men enjoyed exercising at the YMCA. The road to recovery is paved with frustration. Most of the men that were interviewed agreed that lifting weights and exercising were a positive outlet for their affliction—a privilege they no longer have.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #67 Cleveland, Ohio December 2004