Feds Give City Deadline for Aviation
The Federal government, citing Homeland Security concerns, has told the City of Cleveland that they must relocate the overflow shelter at Aviation High School by November 2007. Aviation High School currently sits on the campus of Burke Lakefront Airport. Every night 150 or more people are bussed over to Aviation High School because 2100 Lakeside is always full. These men seeking shelter are not given a background check and do not face the security screenings typical when entering an airport since September 11, 2001. City and County officials cannot agree on the configuration for the replacement of Aviation High. No public official has yet to ask the current residents of Aviation or 2100 Lakeside their opinions about the replacement of Aviation High School.
City of Akron is Roadblock of the Year
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless voted to “honor” the City of Akron as the Roadblock of the Year for “constructing the largest barrier to stability for homeless people in the region.” The “award was given at NEOCH’s Annual Meeting in March. In 2006, Akron passed a registration requirement for all panhandlers that barred those asking for money from being anywhere near any of the tourist attractions in Akron. The law also extends to a prohibition against asking for money around a church or school. It is the strictest panhandling ordinance in the country. According to the Coalition press release, “This law will add criminal background to the obstacles to overcome by low-income people in Akron as they work toward stability.”
Family Homelessness Spotlighted
NEOCH also held a forum on family homelessness in early March 2007 to highlight the growing problems faced by families as they struggle to find housing. The forum highlighted issues such as the reduction in shelters for domestic violence victims, the inability for couples to find shelter where they can stay together, the lack of oversight of all the shelters, and federal policy’s mandated focus on “chronic” homelessness, to the huge detriment of homeless families. The federal policy has led to instability within the family shelters, and at least two are in danger of closing. The Coalition had four women testify about their experiences with regard to finding shelter and moving from homelessness to stability. NEOCH is looking for partners to forward a family-friendly local agenda in serving families.
Homelessness Can Kill
Raydarreyl Collins, a homeless man, died on the East Side of Cleveland from the cold. Collins died in early February while trying to stay warm in an abandoned house. Outreach workers do not usually go into abandoned properties because of safety concerns. Local advocates are working on strategies to prevent future deaths in abandoned properties.
Subsidized Building Under Threat
Community Circle I, in the Hough neighborhood, has failed two federal inspections, and is proceeding to default. This property has 160 units for single people and families, and is subsidized by the federal government. This means that every resident pays only 30% of their income for rent. Recent history is that properties that repeatedly fail their inspection trigger the federal government to dump the property; the tenants receive a housing voucher and the building closes forever. Activists are working to preserve this housing for people who cannot afford to pay the high cost of rent, as there is not currently enough affordable housing available.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 80 April 2007