Local News: More Homeless Sleeping on Cleveland Streets

No Homeless at Hopkins         

   Everyone staying out at the airport was relocated over the last three months.  Over the last several years, the clean and safe environment of the Cleveland Hopkins International became attractive to 20 to 35 homeless people a night.  Many slept near the baggage claim center after riding the RTA rapid to the airport.  There were a few who contacted advocates to object to the relocation, and two refused to leave and were arrested.  There were a larger number of women at the airport then most other locations because of the large number of security present at the airport.  Mental Health Services found housing for four of the individuals sleeping at the airport. 

Aviation High School Overflow to End Next Year                 

Federal agencies are getting very concerned about the large number of homeless people sleeping at Aviation High School just off of the property of Burke Lakefront Airport.  There is concern about the security of the airport with so many people sleeping at the back door to the air field.  City officials have assurances that the overflow will be open through this winter season, but then it must close.  The County is feverishly working on replacement sites, which will be announced in the next month.

School District Staff Gather to Learn About Homelessness

   In 2002, the No Child Left Behind law required that every school district in the United States identify staff to serve homeless children.  For the first time in Cuyahoga County the school district homeless liaisons gathered to learn their responsibilities under the law.  The Ohio Department of Education and NEOCH organized a forum for school district officials in Cuyahoga County to review the law, their responsibilities under the law, and to get clarity on questions that arise.  The Cleveland Public Schools program called Project Act assisted with the forum to provide forms and protocols based on their years of experience in serving hundreds of homeless children every year.  Fourteen school districts attended the forum in early December at Garfield High School, and were provided a wealth of materials.  Tom Dannis of the Department of Education walked the liaisons through the responsibilities, the reimbursement possibilities, and the reporting requirements in this two hour forum.

More Sleeping on Streets in ‘06

   Volunteers and staff from NEOCH conducted their annual walk Downtown to measure compliance with the Key vs. City of Cleveland agreement and count the number of people sleeping outside.  In 2006, NEOCH found nearly as many people sleeping outside in the Downtown Cleveland as were sleeping the year before the 2100 Lakeside Shelter opened.  There were 40 people who reject shelter and sleep outside as a baseline for the next year.  This count is during the holiday season, and history shows that this is the smallest number of people that will be sleeping outside over the next year.  There were some concerns raised that Public Square was not going to be available to homeless people in the near future.  NEOCH staff plan to meet with the police to discuss areas of concern and collaboration.  For more information on  this, see our story below.

Voting Woes Still Plague Ohio

   Despite reports of a smooth election by media, the two polling places observed by Coalition for the Homeless staff found substantial problems.  Teri’ Horne, NEOCH’s Director of Operations, observed the polling location near West Side Catholic Shelter, which was one of the 14 that were forced to stay open late.  The school was not opened early enough for the polling location to open on time.  Brian Davis, the Coalition’s Executive Director, observed the Sterling Recreation Center near 2100 Lakeside and the Community Women’s Shelter and found a long list of problems.   Sterling lost both of its precinct judges, which caused confusion the entire day.  NEOCH staff found poll workers were not adequately trained, and were not informed of the shifting state of the identification law.  At the Sterling Recreation Center, police had to be called to settle a dispute over homeless voting procedures. 

Insurance Costs Shut Down Hiring Hall

   Sarah Garver Megenhardt, the executive director of the Community Hiring Hall, is out on maternity leave after a rough year for the non-profit temporary labor agency.  After not receiving the City of Cleveland contract, the agency was hampered by substantial increases in Worker’s Compensation and Unemployment rates.  The agency moved back into the offices of one of the founding organizations, the United Labor Agency.  They continue to work on stability issues and are sending people out to work everyday.  They hope to rejuvenate their Board of Trustees and regroup when Garver Meganhardt returns in 2007.

Media Coverage Brings Back

Panhandling Law After Sunset

   The Cleveland ordinance regulating panhandlers expired in October 2006.  After media reports pointed out that the law had passed its sunset, the Cleveland City Council rushed into action to “protect” pedestrians.  The sunset clause in the ordinance had been included as a compromise with homeless advocates and others opposed to the measure.  But, with very little public notice and no invitation extended to the organized opposition to attend the hearing, the measure passed.  The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless opposes this ordinance because of the restrictions on where people can ask for money, which is tantamount to a restriction on free speech.  In the first year of the panhandling ordinance over 100 people were ticketed and only one person actually paid the fine.  The punishment for violating the panhandling restriction is a $250 fine.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue 79 December 2006-January 2007, Cleveland Ohio.