Local News

Housing Cleveland Coming Soon

     First Call for Help/211 and Bridging the Gap were given a grant by Cuyahoga County to produce an extensive affordable housing database for the county. The website is expected to be online by the summer of 2005, and will feature a comprehensive list of all the subsidized housing in Cuyahoga County. This website will help landlords who offer housing to those with lower incomes in the county to list their properties. It would also allow homeless people and those struggling in Cuyahoga County to go to the library and find affordable housing much more easily. The project has finally found the proper funding and has gathered an impressive array of partners to serve as the advisory board. Community Re-Entry, Neighborhood Link, NEOCH, Cleveland Tenants Organization, and Legal Aid are just a few of the programs guiding this project.

 Big Brother Demands Non-Profits Do Homework

     In less than 100 years, the United States has moved from a country with “nothing to fear but fear itself” to fearing everything, including domestic charities. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless receives funds from individuals who have money taken from their paychecks. In 2005, the Coalition, publisher of the Homeless Grapevine, was asked to certify that they did not accept or send money to anyone on either the Federal or State Terrorism Watch List. This monumental task would grind the Coalition or any non-profit organization to halt, because the list is 199 pages in Adobe PDF format with around 50 names and their aliases on each page.

There is no other identifying information but a name of a “suspected” terrorist and their many aliases. How is any agency supposed to comb through the tens of thousands of names to verify that a client who received rental assistance with an Arabic name is not the same as a potential terrorist in Saudi Arabia? How are we supposed to verify that the person sitting in the waiting room asking for help with housing is not a terrorist, especially if he or she has the same name as one of the many American-sounding aliases listed? Along with this overwhelming task of wading through thousands of names, do non-profit organizations that provide life-sustaining services like food, shelter, and clothing have an obligation to participate in the war on terrorism?

 Ohio Bill Would Make ERs “Emergency Only”

     Ohio House Member Louis Blessing has introduced legislation that would allow hospitals to restrict emergency room access to only those who meet the federal definition of an emergency. If the bill passes, a hospital will not be reimbursed for any care given to those who are treated for anything less than “an emergency.” This would allow patients to be turned away or forced to pay for a “non-emergency” procedure up-front. From the notes on the bill, the Representative showed up at the emergency room and apparently had to wait for four hours and became angered that people were clogging up the emergency room for what this elected official characterized as “paper cut, dandruff and non-allergic bee sting.” H.B 152 was introduced in March, but has not had a hearing as of May 2005.

 Three Shelters Given Warning to Improve

     The Cuyahoga County Review and Ranking committee oversees all of the publicly-funded transitional shelters and supportive services and, unlike last year, found three shelters need significant improvement. Last year, on an academic scale every service was rated with an “A” except one that received a “B.” This year half of the services received “A”, but three out of the 31 facilities received “C” in the rankings. Harbor Light—Zelma George Shelter, Hitchcock Center and East Side Catholic Shelter all received low enough scores to worry the review teams. The County will be reviewing the administration, fiscal issues and involvement with clients for each of these programs over the next six months. After six months, if the projects have not made significant progress the County will begin the process of finding another provider.

    This comes after three years of articles and complaints in The Homeless Grapevine about two of the facilities. In 2004, the Grapevine published a long series on the sad state of the family shelters. The Grapevine will publish a more in-depth look at the Continuum of Care in an upcoming issue.

Copyright NEOCH, The Homeless Grapevine #70, May 2005. All Rights Reserved.