Ohio Ranks as 4th Most Dangerous State for Homeless

Special Submission by the National Coalition for the Homeless

Widespread Epidemic of Hate Crimes

& Violence Against Homeless People

       “It doesn't matter, they're just bums,” spoke by the alleged murderers of a Florida homeless man. “Light him up,” chanted an Indianapolis crowd in response to a homeless man being dowsed in lighter fluid. “The Michigan State Police is committed to protecting the dignity and rights of all persons,” assured their director after two state troopers assaulted a homeless man with chemicals.

      The above information comes from Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street USA: A Report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness 2005, the National Coalition for the Homeless hate crime report was released on February 9th, 2006. This 70-page document details 86 separate incidents across America in which all manner of people lash out against those who have nowhere to go.

      Out of all US states and territories, Ohio is the FOURTH most dangerous place for homeless people in America. In addition to throwing bricks and bottles at its homeless, Ohio is listed as having citizens who beat homeless people while they sleep. Ohio does not entice homeless people into forced labor camps like Florida, nor does it pay its homeless to drink volatile fluids like in Georgia, but the report is clear that Ohio is still very dangerous for homeless people. 

      “The level of hatred towards homeless people has grown significantly over the years in the United States. Over the last six years, the National Coalition has documented a large increase in the number of hate crimes directed at homeless people,” said NCH Civil Rights Co-Chair Brian Davis.

      Only the homeless of Florida (where hate crime incidents against homeless people were eight times the numbers found in Ohio), California, and Mississippi find themselves in more danger than those living in Ohio. In Cleveland, there was a beating of a homeless individual on Public Square by two young men with a stick in December 2005. Don was put in the hospital with a broken jaw and many bruises, and the attackers were never found. 

      Another individual had a brick thrown at him while sleeping just north of Public Square in October of 2005. NCH's 2005 Hate Crime report can be found at their website which is located at www.nationalhomeless.org.  In addition to highlighting the seemingly violent nature of America's youth (the majority of the incidents were perpetrated by individuals aged 20 years or younger), the report also offers suggestions on tactics and legislation that could help to overcome the degrading stereotype of homeless people that leads to their dehumanization, marginalization, and hospitalization.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue 75 March-April 2006 Cleveland, Ohio.