Safety Ambassadors Patrol Downtown
The bright yellow shirt-wearing crews Downtown are the new clean up team and panhandlers shields hired by the Downtown Alliance business group. Block by Block, from Louisville, Kentucky was hired after the Downtown businesses taxed themselves to pay for these “ambassadors.” Their duties are to clean up Downtown and engage pedestrians. They have a truck, one off-duty police officer, and a social worker who acts as an “outreach worker” along with the 60 people patrolling the streets. They travel from the Warehouse district to East 18th St. There are similar programs in other cities administered by the same for-profit business who surround a panhandler and encourage pedestrians not to give to those asking for money and instead ask people to give to agencies.
Back into the Fire for Five Local Shelters
In the last Grapevine, we learned that all the shelters “on notice” by Cuyahoga County Review Team were taken off the list in February. In April, the Office of Homeless Services announced that five programs were now on six months of monitoring, in which staff would continue to review the projects to assure improvements. There are still no details on the reason for the 2005 monitoring and results. Only one word is given to explain why each of the 2006 shelters and programs made the monitoring list. The 2006 group that will receive continued monitoring include East Side Catholic (2205 member) for “budget” problems, and Zelma George Shelter (also a 2005 member) for program and client problems. In additions, Continue Life is “on notice” for management problems, Wilson Tower (Salvage Army) for capacity issues, and Shelter Plus Care for tracking and documentation problems.
Hiring Hall Evaluating Future Contracts
The Community Hiring Hall did not receive the City of Cleveland contract. The for-profit bidder underbid the Hiring Hall. This has caused layoffs and the staff are reevaluating the contracts that this non-profit temporary company will pursue. Board and staff are committed to making this unique experiment work. The Community Hiring Hall has homeless organization labor, and religious groups all at the same table trying to provide decent jobs without the exploitation of very low- income individuals in Cleveland seen in many for-profit day labor companies.
Predatory Lending Law Passes
After years of study and banking industry claims that they could regulate themselves, the Ohio legislature finally passed a law to restrict predatory lending in Ohio. After reaching the top two in the number of foreclosures and bankruptcies of any state in the U.S., the Senate and House agreed on a law that provides strong safeguards for consumers by backing them with the enforcement powers of the attorney general’s office; and specifies prohibitions on non-bank lenders and mortgage brokers. The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio’s executive director, Bill Faith, called the bill a milestone for homeowner protection. “After years of research, debate and advocacy. I am pleased at the progress we made today on behalf of Ohio’s homeowners; and on behalf of the many victims that have fallen prey to unfair and deceptive lending behaviors that will no longer be allowed, Faith said.
Domestic Violence Bill Ruled Unconstitutional
The Ohio Court of Appeal, Third District ruled that the Ohio Domestic Violence statue was inconsistent with the 2004 passed Ohio Constitutional Amendment preventing the state from passing any law that undermines marriage as being between a man and a woman. The so-called “Defense of Marriage” act is inconsistent with the Domestic Violence law that allows prosecution of same-sex or non-married partners who live together and act violently toward their partner. This sets up a hearing in the Ohio Supreme Court since appeals courts have split on their decisions on the constitutionality of the domestic violence statutes in Ohio.
Copyright NEOCH Homeless Grapevine- Cleveland, Ohio; June 2006: Issue 76