Violence Against Homeless People Increasing

by Joshua Kanary

    Gunner Maynard knew something was up when a black ’02-’03 Pontiac Trans Am slowed down alongside him and some young men asked if he would be willing to sell his puppy.  Maynard is a homeless man, and was walking his 4-month-old pit bull terrier and boxer mix, Train Avenue, on Cleveland’s west side.  Despite their persistence, Maynard declined and the car drove away.  Intuition told him he had not seen the last of them.

    Unfortunately, intuition was right.

    On the evening of May 11th, the young men returned with a baseball bat and a knife.  They waited until Maynard was gone to jump his wife, Barbara Butler, who was waiting alone at their campsite with Train Avenue.  One of the attackers slammed Butler against a shed, breaking her collarbone.

    “Get away from the dog before I stab you!” he snarled before he ran off to join others who had stolen the puppy.

    Simultaneously, some of the other young men attacked Maynard not too far from the campsite as he returned from the store.  The men assaulted him, resulting in several gashes to his head.  Maynard ran to some nearby friends, but by the time he returned to the camp, the men were gone and the damage was done.

    Maynard and Butler have exhausted themselves repeating this story to police, outreach workers, and media.  Most people would already tired of answering the same questions and posing for the same pictures while still struggling with the difficulties that come with being homeless, but, as they both state, “We want our dog back.”

    These incidents (including another encounter two nights later, when the men returned and threatened to burn down the couple’s camp) are the latest in a series of attacks on homeless people on the west side of Cleveland.  Two men were jumped in two separate incidents in February and early April at a bridge over West 53rd.  Then, on April 29th, a homeless man volunteering at the Franklin Circle Church evening meal was attacked by a group of teenagers, leaving him hospitalized with stitches in his knee.

    In all cases, the attackers have been young white males, some with shaved heads, age 16-24.  In some instances they were traveling on bikes.  However, in the most recent incident, they were seen driving a black ’02-’03 Pontiac Trans Am.  Most of the attacks have occurred in the early evening hours.

    Maynard and Butler are currently staying off the street and are in transition to permanent housing.  Because Cleveland has become so dangerous to homeless people sleeping outdoors, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has set up an Emergency Housing Fund in order to help homeless people get off the street and transition them into more stable and permanent housing.

    NEOCH has also developed a safety tips flyer that it is distributing to homeless people in Cleveland.  The flyer gives details of the incidents, where they occurred, what the attackers look like, and who to call in the event of an attack.  The flyer’s safety tips are geared toward homeless people who sleep outside, and suggest people should sleep in groups and out in the open, and should keep in daily contact with family and friends.

    If you have any information regarding this incident or any other incidents, please contact the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) at 216-432-0540.

    If you have any information regarding this incident or any other incidents, please

Contact the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) at 216-432-0540.

If you wish to make a donation to help

Maynard and Butler, and others in similar

situations, please contact NEOCH and tell them you wish to make a donation to their Emergency Housing Fund.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

National News: Homeless Endangered Across America

Murder Suspect Led Officers To Body

PORTLAND, OR. -- A suspect in a Portland slaying led police officers to a man he stabbed to death, according to an article on kptv.com.

    Calvin Stubblefield, 54, walked into Central Precinct offices and directed officers to a homeless camp near North Dixon Street and Larabee Avenue, according to the article.

    Officers found the body of a 36-year-old man in the camp and that he had died of several stab wounds.

    Stubblefield has since been taken into custody and has been charged with one count of murder and booked into the Justice Center Jail.

Man Arrested For Feeding Homeless

Scheduled For Trial

 ORLANDO, FL -- A Central Florida man arrested for feeding homeless people in Orlando is scheduled to go on trail later this month for violating the controversial ordinance, Orlando’s Local 6 News reported.

    Eric Montanez, 21, was recently charged with illegally feeding the homeless under the ordinance that bars feeding groups of people in parks without a special permit, Montanez is the first person arrested under the ordinance.

    Montanez plans to continue to feed homeless groups every Wednesday at Lake Eola in Orlando, despite the ordinance.

    Those who support the ordinance claim that feeding homeless people in city parks leads to a spike in crimes.

    Montanez’s trial is set for June 25.

City Investigates Death Of Homeless Man As Murder

SANTA MONICA, CA-- Santa Monica police were quoted by CBS that the death of an apparently homeless man found lying on a bench in Palisades Park next to the Senior Citizens Center was being investigated as a homicide.

    The body of the 37-year-old man was found in the 1500 block of Palisades Park.  The man apparently died as the result of blunt force trauma to the head.

Group Claims LAPD Officers Beat Homeless Woman

LOS ANGELES -- A group which monitors the Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday accused four officers of punching and kicking a petite homeless woman, dousing her in pepper spray and then carrying her hog-tied to a police car, according to AP wire reports.

    A spokesman for the Los Angeles Community Action Network said in the article that the beating happened in downtown Los Angeles, and claimed the officers “brutalized a woman for about 10 minutes near the corner of Sixth and Stanford streets,” just a few blocks from the LAPD’s Central Station.

    According to the sources quoted in the article, the woman is clearly a homeless resident with some mental disabilities who was known to downtown residents, although not by name.

NY Court Find Panhandling is Free Speech

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- : A homeless man who argued that begging is a form of free speech — after he was arrested for asking a policeman for a dollar in a New York suburb — has won his case, according to AP reports.

    By invoking a 15-year-old federal court decision that said New York’s loitering law violated First Amendment constitutional protections, 36-year-old Eric Hoffstead got New Rochelle City Court Judge Gail Rice to dismiss his case.

    The 1992 case applied specifically to enforcement in New York City and the state law, which prohibits begging in a public place, had never been changed. But when Hoffstead, who has been arrested 20 times in Westchester County, north of New York City — read about the decision, he urged his lawyer, Carl Birman, to use it.

    Rice’s ruling echoed the 1992 decision.  Hoffstead was still in the county jail on Thursday because he faces a trespassing charge in a separate case.

Group  Of Homeless People In Fresno Forced To Move

By CHP

FRESNO, CA --Homeless people who were recently moved out of “tent city” will have to find somewhere else to live, according to KFSN-TV.

    About 2 dozen homeless people living underneath the overpass on Ventura and G Streets were kicked out of their homeless encampment Monday morning by the California Highway Patrol.

    The group had been given three days to clear their belongings. It’s unclear whether the encampment will break up and relocate.

Homeless Pedestrian Hit by Police Car

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, CA --Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s are investigating an officer that hit a homeless person on Highway One, according to kion46.com. 

    The pedestrian was crossing illegally at Highway One near Costco in Santa Cruz.  That’s when a police officer hit the man with his car. The man was rushed to a hospital and is reportedly uninjured.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Local Youth Learning Through Service to Others

Commentary by Kevin E. Cleary

    In my position as Managing Editor for The Homeless Grapevine newspaper, I have had the privilege of working with many volunteers.  Many of these volunteers have come from local colleges, and my experiences with them have shown me that our nation’s youth are not as useless and selfish as public perception would dictate.

    Back in March, I wrote an entry on the Grapevine’s web log about the widespread perception that the post-World War II generations are selfish and lazy, particularly Generation X and the so-called Millennial Generation.  The entry spoke about my sister’s trip to Biloxi, MS to help with post-Katrina rebuilding, and expressed my respect and admiration for the countless young people I have encountered who struggle to make a difference everyday.

    In an effort to combat this negative perception, I felt more should be done to highlight the positive work of young people in Cleveland, especially as we see that teenagers, inspired by videos like “Bum fights,” are becoming a growing threat to homeless people across the country.

    In this, and future issues, I hope to see many more stories about the positive activities of our nation’s youth, and far fewer stories about violence against homeless people.

    I see one problem that helps perpetuate negative perceptions of our youth as a failure by many adults to take young people seriously.  Four students from Dr. Susan Oldrieve’s class at Baldwin Wallace College recently went through hell and back attempting to write stories for The Homeless Grapevine.  The students all complained that potential sources repeatedly failed to return calls, and repeatedly made themselves unavailable, or provided seemingly inaccurate information.  One student, Bryce Goodman, (commentary on next page) interviewed Ruth Gillette, of the Office of Homeless Services, about the pending closure of Aviation High School.  She completely denied knowledge of the closure.  But, just a few days later, the Plain Dealer publicly reported on the closure.

    I’m a cynic at heart, but I still see justifiable hope for the future in our nation’s youth.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Local News: Aviation Still Closing, Still No Plan

Aviation Plans Crashing

    At the May 4 Homeless Congress meeting, City and County officials detailed the plan to replace the overflow shelter at Aviation High School, which is set to close.  Right now that plan can best be summarized as a hope and a prayer that homelessness will decrease before Halloween.  Congress members voted later in the month to urge the City and County to stop working on freeing up space within the Continuum and put firm plans in place for the day Aviation High School closes.  Congress members commented that it is going to be a frightening Halloween this year.

    Ruth Gillett of the County Office of Homeless Service, Rick Werner, Deputy County Administrator, and Natoya Walker of the City of Cleveland, along with City Council member Phyllis Cleveland attended the Homeless Congress meeting.  Walker, Werner and Gillett have worked with the men’s shelter providers over the last six months on a plan to free up space in the Continuum of Care system in order to eliminate the need for overflow.  They intend to then use the North Point Inn site as a permanent supportive housing facility and have 2100 Lakeside act as the entry and overflow shelter.  The residents who stay at Aviation and who attended the Congress meeting have seen no reduction in the number of homeless people seeking shelter at the overflow.  At the time of the meeting there were no firm timelines or backup plans in place for November 1, 2007 when Aviation is closed.

Parking Meters Will Soon Beg for Change

    The Downtown Alliance is planning on stepped-up enforcement of Cleveland’s panhandling law, and they have tentative plans to put in place “Charity Parking meters.”  These meters will allow pedestrians to give money to homeless service organizations in order to discourage the giving of money to an individual purporting to be in need of assistance.  The group has held initial meetings with religious and social service providers to discuss panhandling.  A few glaring issues came up during initial meetings about panhandling: first, there is no consensus on who the panhandlers are in our community; second, no one seems to know why people resort to panhandling or even what the extent of the problem is in our community.

City Breaking Up Homeless Camps

    With little fanfare and very little assistance from the representatives of the social service providers, a large encampment has developed near Brown’s Stadium.  Because of increased scrutiny from the Downtown clean-up crews and the recent attacks on the West Side, many homeless camps have moved off of Public Square.  A tent city has developed under the Shore way, which Downtown workers have dubbed “The Freeway Hilton.”  At least 14 tents are concentrated in a very small area in what turns out to be media parking for any event at Brown’s Stadium.  The Browns lease the space and they are asking the City to move the individuals before mid-June or those living at the camps will be arrested.  Denver, Seattle, and Portland have all struggled with the development of “tent cities.”

Community Circle I Closing

    Another subsidized building is in danger of being lost by the community.  Community Circle I high-rises and townhouses are in the Hough neighborhood and offer 160 units of affordable housing for low-income families and disabled individuals.  The property is in disrepair, as the federal government has allowed it to slowly deteriorate.  Now, after becoming a huge eyesore, the federal government is trying to foreclose on the building.  Once there is a foreclosure the building would lose its subsidy and all the tenants would have to leave.  The building would sit vacant and the property would have to be demolished, because it has very little value on the open market.  This would mean a net loss in affordable housing.  All the local politicians want the property saved and turned over to the City of Cleveland.  The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development that watched this building slip into disrepair wants the building to lose its subsidy and they want to scatter all the tenants to the wind with a voucher.  We will see over the next 90 days what happens to the building.

Henry Casey Killed

During the recent attention of hate crimes directed at homeless people on the West Side, there was a murder on the east side of town of a long-time homeless person, Henry Casey.  While certainly not a hate crime, this act of violence received very little attention in the media.  Casey was killed on May 18 in the middle of the night near the Bishop Cosgrove Center where he regularly slept.  Friends held a memorial on Friday June 1 at the Cosgrove Center with reflections and a balloon launch.  The homeless community is very aware of the murderer, but no arrests have been made.

Voice Mail Day Proclaimed

    April 26, 2007 was Voice Mail Day in Cleveland. Falling on the same day as National Administrative Professionals Day, Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland proclaimed April 26 as a day to sign up clients on the Cleveland Community Voice Mail program.  Over 1,000 people currently receive messages from potential landlords and employers by using CCVM. Shelters in Cleveland and Lorain County use the service so that they can reach their clients and shelters do not have to take messages for a transient population.  Cleveland Community Voice Mail signed up 80 people on April 26 and gave awards to the caseworkers who distributed the largest number of voice mailboxes to homeless people in the region.

Emerald Commons Has Grand Opening

    The newest affordable housing project funded in Cleveland opened last fall, and had their Grand Opening on May 31, 2007.  The $8.6 million dollar property serves 52 individuals who are long-term homeless (Editor’s Note: this is commonly referred to as “chronically homeless,” but Grapevine staff view this as an offensive phrase) and also have a disability.  Lt. Governor Lee Fischer and Mayor Frank Jackson were on hand to christen the new building on the cities West Side.  The owner and property manager is Eden Inc. with service provided by Mental Health Services, the AIDS Taskforce, and Recovery Resources.

Homeless Congress Has High Standards

    Aside from the discussion regarding the future of overflow shelters in Cleveland, the Homeless Congress finally finished the Shelter Standards bill.  They have presented it to social service providers, City and County officials, and Cleveland City Council member Phyllis Cleveland.  The shelter directors present asked for one month to look at the document and recommend possible changes.  The Congress will take up the recommendations at the end of June to forward a final bill to Councilperson Cleveland.  She has agreed to get it drafted into legal language and introduce the shelter standards bill in the fall.  (For more on this story, please see our front-page story, “Homeless Congress Seeks Shelter Standards.”)

Continuum of Care Update

    The Office of Homeless Services approved a request of $12.4 million in funds for housing, transitional shelter and supportive services for homeless people as part of the 2007 Continuum of Care request.  There is an additional $9.3 million in federal renewal funds to support existing Shelter Plus Care vouchers in the community.  East Side Catholic Shelter was left off the list because of financial and management issues.  Family Transitional Shelter has had to shutter 10-13 of their transitional housing units due to financial problems, and they have had a series of staff turnovers that is making it difficult for the organization to move forward.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Local Author Teresa Clark Talks with The Homeless Grapevine

Interview by Kevin E. Cleary

Teresa Clark is a local writer who recently published her first novel, “American Bushwhacker.”  Part of the book was inspired by her experiences while homeless in the Cleveland area several years ago.  She shared some of her experiences in a recent interview with The Homeless Grapevine. 

The Homeless Grapevine: Could you please describe for our readers how you become homeless?

Clark: I was literally running for my life. In 1999, I was the victim of a brutal and vicious kidnapping. The man who kidnapped me was an employee of a (due to a contract I signed when I settled out of court, I cannot actually ‘name’ them) very large and powerful non-profit religious organization. I was actually taken to a building on the campus of this organization where I was raped and tortured for hours. Needless to say, I was not supposed to live, much less escape, but escape I did.

    I slapped this organization with a substantial lawsuit and I went to the media. Well, that sure did piss ‘em off.  They were not happy campers, and like I said before they were very powerful. Nobody believed me when I told them how the attorneys and ‘friends’ of this organization were terrorizing me, so I ran and decided to just try and disappear.

 

Grapevine: Were you able to keep in contact with your family throughout the ordeal?

Clark: I tried for a while but part of their attorneys’ tactics to stop the lawsuit was to completely destroy my credibility, and like I said before, they were very powerful. There was a young woman who lived by me and this religious organization, who, years ago, disappeared off the face of the earth.  The last time she was seen she was talking to one of the young men who was employed by this organization, directly in front of the building where I was kidnapped. So this battle is far from over for me, because I know they did it. I would however, like to say to the law enforcement personnel and certain medical personnel (and you know who you are) who felt they needed to help this organization from mean little old me, I bet you guys feel like real morons now!

Grapevine: What was it like at the safe house where you stayed? Did you stay at any of the area’s homeless shelters throughout this time? If so, what was it like?

Clark: They were very judgmental and condescending. For a woman who was severely injured and just had her self-esteemed knocked out through her asshole, the ‘safe house,’ was an absolutely horrific experience. However, I did stay for a while at the Women’s Shelter over by E.22 and Payne, and I must say I met some real big hearts over there.  Good compassionate people.  As for the other street people staying there, some of it was heart-wrenching and some of it was free entertainment. But there were people out there lookin’ to put a hurtin’ on me so I had to keep moving.

Grapevine: At one point, you stayed in a tent city with homeless veterans. What was it like? How did you get taken under their wings?
Clark: Well one of the things I learned from the veterans of the streets is ‘crazy’ is good.  It gets you more stuff and people leave you alone. I met a man named Dan while I was at the shelter on Payne.  I think he was a Gulf War Vet. Well, they had a special place for Vets with Post Traumatic Stress and I am a Veteran.  It was much better than the general population; we got more stuff.  He asked me about the injuries to my arm and I guess I just got tired of carrying this secret around with me about who I was, and I broke down and told him everything.

    It was Dan that took me to the hidden tent city by the lake. Most of the men and women down there were Vets. It was an elaborate setup, they used Army tents or any kind of waterproof canvas they could make into a tent.  Representatives from the V.A. and Soldiers & Sailors supplied them with sleeping bags, blankets, flashlights, batteries, canned goods and stuff like that.  They used the racks from old stoves to make the grills they used to cook on. They practiced recycling and were very organized. These were the people that taught me the ‘Crazy Game.’  I can’t talk about the ‘Crazy Game’ because that’s the basis for my next book. This was where I was living when I wrote the whole epilogue to “American Bushwhacker.”

Grapevine: How were you able to stay in contact with your attorney throughout the lawsuit? How long did the whole process take?
Clark: “I would go see my cousin Donna, who was my contact person.  The woman is a saint. She would let me know when my attorney wanted to see me. I was kidnapped on April 11th, 1999 and settled out of court, I believe, on my 40th birthday 2001.”

Grapevine: What made you decide to write a novel? Did your experiences inform the novel or inspire any characters?

Clark: “Writers are just like gay people.  We’re born this way and no matter how much you try to fight it, it’s a losin’ battle. Everything in ‘American Bushwhacker’ is inspired by my experiences as a homeless person. Even though ‘American Bushwhacker’ is deemed historical fiction, it really isn’t. My ancestors were actual Bushwhackers for the Confederacy, but living with and learning from the homeless veterans on the streets of Cleveland was like actually being with the original Bushwhackers. Being homeless could quite possibly be one of the best things that ever happened to me, as sad as that may sound.”

Grapevine: How long did it take you to write your novel?  How long did it take you to find a publisher?

Clark: “The epilogue was the first part of the book I wrote and I wrote that in the year 2000. So, I’d give it 6 years.  [Finding a publisher took about] one year and about 17 rejections.”

Grapevine: Ms. Clark, thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Lessons from a Candidate Who Sought to End Poverty

Commentary by Michael Stoops

    Nearly forty years ago, this country lost a great American: Upton Sinclair, who had a profound impact forwarding social justice in the United States. He first came to national attention with the book, The Jungle, published in 1906 which exposed unsafe practices of the meatpacking industry in Chicago. Not as well known was Upton Sinclair’s effort to be elected as a U.S. Senator and Governor of California. 

    As a socialist, he ran for a U.S. Senate seat in California in 1922 and got 50,323 votes.  He ran for Governor in 1930 and got 50,480.  He described that as progress.

    In 1934, he switched parties and became a Democrat.  He carried the Democratic primary with 436,000 votes, and winning by a margin of some 25,000 votes.

    In the general election, Sinclair received twice the number of votes of any previous Democratic candidate for governor of California up to that point. Final vote:  Frank Merriam—1,138,620 Sinclair—879,537.  

    He died in 1968.

    Unlike modern day candidates (with the possible exception of former U.S. Senator John Edwards and now Presidential candidate), he ran on a platform of ending poverty in California.

    Similar to today’s visible homelessness, poverty and unemployment were at their peak during the early years of the Great Depression. Sinclair sought political office to stop the growth of poverty in one of the most difficult times in American history.

    In his own words, Sinclair said, “But I cannot enjoy the comforts of home, and the freedom of work and recreation which I have earned, while I know there are millions of others around me suffering for lack of common necessities.

    Here are thousands of people wandering homeless, and thousands of homes which no one is allowed to occupy.  Here are a million people who want to work and are not allowed to work.

    I say, positively and without qualification, we can end poverty in California.  I know exactly how to do it, and if you elect me Governor, with a Legislature to support me, I will put the job through—and I won’t take more than one or two or four years.

    I say that there is no excuse for poverty in a civilized and wealthy State like ours.  I say that we can and should see to it that all men and women of our State who are willing to work should have work suited to their capacities, and should be paid a wage that will enable them to maintain a decent home and an American standard of living.

    I say that every old person should be provided for in comfort, and likewise every orphaned child and every person who is sick or incapacitated.  I repeat that this can be done, and that I know how to do it.  If I take up the job, I will stick until it is finished, and there will be no delay and no shilly-shallying.  There will be action, and continuous action, until the last man, woman, and child has these fundamental economic rights.  Again, I say:  End Poverty in California.”

    Later, Sinclair said that the slogan, “End Poverty in California,” really meant to him, “End Poverty in Civilization.”

    His “End Poverty in California” (EPIC) had twelve basic principles.  Some of the more interesting/unique/prophetic ones included:

        1.  God created the natural wealth of the earth for the use of all men, not a few.

        2.  When some men live without working, other men are working without living.

        3.  The existence of luxury in the presence of poverty and destitution is contrary to good morals and sound public policy.

        4.  The cause of the trouble is that a small class has the wealth, while the rest have debts.

    The first plank of his political platform was to give the unemployed productive work and make them self-supporting.

He also proposed exempting the poor from having to pay taxes.

    “I proposed that all homes assessed at less than $3000 shall be exempt from taxation.  Anybody who lives in that poor a home in these times needs help and not taxing.  Homes from $3000 to $5000 pay a normal rate, and for each additional $5000 we add one-half of one per cent.  That means that if you live in a $100,000 home you will pay a tax of about 11%, and if you don’t care to pay that, the State will take over your mansion and turn it into a public institution for orphaned children, or for the aged, or for those who have acquired tuberculosis by slaving twelve hours a day in a department store or a restaurant kitchen,” said the candidate.

The Nexus of the Campaign

    Sinclair offered a real choice to Californians.  He said, “In California of 1934 there could only be two parties, those who wished to abolish poverty, and those who wished to maintain it.” 

    “We say to the voters.  There are half a million persons in our state out of work.  They cannot be permitted to starve.  These persons can never again find work while the present system endures…..  There is no solution to this problem except to put these unemployed at productive labor….

    Our opponents have told you that we cannot put this plan through.  Let men answer just this:  If you should give me a chance to end poverty in California, and I should fail to do it, life would mean nothing to me thereafter.

    I say ‘abolish poverty.’ This is plain language that everybody can stand.

    A special effort was made to reach the churches.  Sinclair said:  “It is impossible for me to understand how any group of people organized in the name of Jesus can support the continuation of poverty, with all the degradation and misery it causes to the human race.”

Dirty Campaign Attacks on Sinclair

    While his campaign resonated with poor Californians, he was opposed by influential enemies from major newspaper publishers to Hollywood studio owners.

    Some of this was Sinclair’s own doing.

    Recounting a visit to Washington, DC, Sinclair said, “I told Harry Hopkins in Washington that if I am elected half the unemployed of the United States will come to California, and he will have to make plans to take care of them.”

    On another occasion he said, “If I am elected Governor, I expect one-half the unemployed in the United States will hop aboard the first freights to California”

    This turned out to be the worst gaffe of his campaig

    His enemies did a “Bums Rush” news reel video showing hordes of transients jumping off freight trains in California.   This footage ran in movie theaters statewide.

    Other billboards pictured an army of transients marching, marching, marching beneath the quote “I expect half the unemployed in the U.S. to flock to California if I am elected.”  DO YOU WANT THIS TO HAPPEN?

    The Los Angeles Times ran editorials against Sinclair with headlines like, “Hordes of Jobless Swooping on State.”  The editorial calculated that ten million Americans were out of work, meaning that five million indigents would swamp the state once Sinclair took office.

    “In other words,” the editorial observed, “Sinclair expects to end poverty in California by bringing in fifteen times as many poverty-stricken, jobless indigents as we already have!”

    The former national Commander of the American Legion branded Sinclair’s plan a “grotesque fantasy.”

    In a pre-election  satirical opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, a writer using a pseudonym wrote that Sinclair had won and spelled out the consequences of his winning.

    He wrote of how all the “paupers and ne’er-do-wells” in  Florida were informed that Mr. Sinclair would keep his promises—work for all who wished to work—incomes for those who didn’t..”

    Post-election there was a “great Florida-to-California migration of dead-brokes and dead-beats.

    Florida then emptied its prisons and asylums. 

    Other governors joined in.

    Forty-six other states copied the Florida measure, and in a short-time all the 12,000,000 unemployed and their families, together with all the convicts and all the insane of forty-seven states, had been hustled over the border into California. 

    These states then amended the Constitution making it illegal for poor people to travel from state to state therefore keeping all the poor contained inside of California.

    Others poked fun at Sinclair by referring to EPIC as: “Every Pauper Is Coming,”  “Easy Pickings in California,” “Everybody’s Poorhouse, Including Californians,” and “California, Here I Bum.”

    One editorial cartoon showed two tramps reading about EPIC in an eastern newspaper and deciding to winter in California instead of Florida this year.

    Even a song parody was written:

California, here we come!  Every beggar, every bum

From New York—and Jersey—down to Purdue—

By millions—we’re coming—so that we can live on you.

We hear that Sinclair’s got your State

That’s why we can hardly wait

Open up your Golden Gate

California, here we come!

Sinclair’s Legacy for the 2008 Presidential Campaign

    The campaign practices and public policy of Upton Sinclair should be inspirational to today’s candidates and lawmakers. Poverty in the US has reached devastatingly high levels and without decisive action from public officials, will continue with catastrophic results. Hopefully, the ideas and dreams of Mr. Sinclair can educate our politicians and allow them to use his own campaign to end poverty as a model in the ’08 presidential election.

This is the first of a two-part series.  The second article entitled, “I, President (--fill in the blank) of the U.S. and How I Ended Poverty. A True Story of the Future,” will be published soon.  Michael Stoops is the Acting Executive Director of the Washington, DC-based National Coalition for the Homeless (www.nationalhomeless.org).

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

John Carroll University Students Get a Glimpse of Homeless Life in Cleveland

Commentary by Brendan McLaughlin

For college students across the country, Spring Break is their chance to escape the cold, unforgiving Cleveland winters and experience life in exotic locations, like Cancun and the Bahamas.  But for nine members of the John Carroll University community, it meant learning about the plight and difficulties of those who live on the streets of Cleveland.

     For a week this past March these students and staff lived in a small two bedroom apartment above the Catholic Worker Storefront and visited places like 2100 Lakeside, NEOCH and the West Side Catholic Center with the intention of becoming more aware of the problems that face homeless people in Cleveland.  The week -long “immersion experience” began with the Labre Project, a homeless outreach group that is based at John Carroll University whose mission is to offer friendship and food to homeless people in Cleveland. 

    The students all were able to see first hand the problems that face homeless people through direct work with them, such as helping to construct a shelter for one man, or by volunteering their time at an agency like the Cleveland Foodbank. At the end of each evening the students would meet together to talk about their experiences and share their thoughts on what they saw as a great injustice. 

    “Their commitment to community service was evident in those discussions,” said Dr. Richard Hendrickson, a JCU assistant professor who helped guide the experience. “They saw the work of the many who help the homeless people in Cleveland, and dedicated themselves to similar efforts in the world in the future.”

    Sophomore Robert Duns, of Auburn, Ohio, felt a specific call to help those in need.  “We don’t have homeless people on the streets out here in the country so it was just a different world for me.  I am amazed that the problem is as big as it is with so many people being affected, but I’m even more amazed at the many remarkable people there are who are working so hard to put an end to it.”

    The week was very eventful for the students and Katie Fritz, a senior at Lorain County Community College, described her experience as “an emotional roller coaster.”  She said that there is so much that still needs to be done and hopefully everyone will see that the only way for things to change is a joint effort from all parties involved.  These students have made the first step and are truly willing to do what is needed to help solve one major problem here in Cleveland.

 Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

House of Blues Giving Grapevine Vendor the Blues

Commentary by Nathaniel Hamm

    The House of Blues is giving me the blues.  I am a Homeless Grapevine vendor.  I sell this paper to earn a living.  I am writing this because I have faced intimidation by the House of Blues for trying to sell my paper on the public sidewalks near their business.

    I have been arrested twice in front of their property for selling the newspaper.  The first time, I was arrested for “disorderly conduct” for questioning an officer when he threatened me with arrest if I didn’t leave House of Blues “property.”  The officer who arrested me then told me that if he caught me walking anywhere near House of Blues, he would arrest me again.  The second time, I was arrested for “panhandling” on House of Blues “property.”  Each time I was arrested, I had the newspapers and my badge on me, and both were displayed.

    The problem is that House of Blues is claiming they own the sidewalks around their business, but I know that the sidewalks are public property.  The Editor of the Grapevine, Brian Davis, told me that the City has informed the House of Blues that the sidewalks are public property, and that I am allowed to sell the paper there.

    House of Blues was also supposed to tell all of their employees this, so that I wouldn't be harassed again. But, after that happened, I went back about two weeks later to sell my papers there. The off-duty officer who works at House of Blues told me again that I cannot sell my papers anywhere near East 4th and Euclid, or on the corner of East 4th and Prospect. He still claimed that all of these places are House of Blues' property. So, I told them that City Hall said that House of Blues does not own the sidewalks, and if they arrest me again, that I may have the right to sue them for harassment.

     I don’t want to harm anyone, I don’t want to cause trouble with the House of Blues.  It seems to me that none of their customers are bothered by me, but the managers and security there keep trying to keep me away.  All I want to do is have the right to sell my papers on the public sidewalks without fear of harassment and arrest.

  Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Homeless Congress Seeks Shelter Standards

Analysis by Sarah Valek

    At the May 3rd meeting of the Homeless Congress, the representatives proposed a set of shelter standards and presented them to executive directors and staff from 2100 Lakeside, Community Women’s Shelter, Mental Health Services, Joseph’s Home and other agencies, along with City and County officials. 

    Unlike the current Ohio Shelter Standards, which exist as unenforceable guidelines, or “best practices,” these standards were written by the homeless clients the shelters serve.  Shelter directors have until June 21st to suggest changes, after which the proposed standards will be submitted to Cleveland City Council.

    The representatives began addressing the lack of enforceable standards by asking, “What would a perfect shelter look like?”  This simple question spurred many ideas.

    Sample regulations stipulate that shelters cannot require identification as a condition for entry, that all clients will have use of a locker to secure their belongings, and that every client must have a housing plan written for them within the second week of their stay. Additionally, every shelter with more than 50 clients must have at least one client advocate on site whose job is to advocate for the interests of residents and to handle resident concerns.

    During every Congress meeting, participants vocalize any problems they experience in the homeless community. Meetings take the shape of an open-forum, allowing them to talk about issues in the community and discuss possible solutions.  

    The Homeless Congress officially started in July 2006 and allows homeless people to have input in decisions directly impacting their lives. Congress members represent different social service providers and homeless shelters throughout the city. Representatives are clients or residents of these facilities—not staff—and represent area shelter’s such as 2100 Lakeside, Salvation Army, Community Women’s Shelter, MHS— The Spot, Care Alliance and more.

    All representatives are currently or recently were homeless, and all are determined to make positive changes in their community. The Congress was devised as a way for people steeped in the system to work together to change it for the better.

    For example, many reps complained that the food at shelters lacked variety. At 2100 Lakeside, men were only served pasta and hotdogs. Other representatives spoke of similar problems at other shelters.  In an effort to rectify these complaints, the representatives invited someone to speak from the Cleveland Foodbank. Reps learned that fresh vegetables and bread were readily available—shelters just weren’t taking advantage of it. Soon enough, the reps were bringing this issue to the directors.

    Another problem identified by the Congress was the lack of affordable housing in the county. State Representative Mike Foley showed up to take on this discussion. He listened to their priorities, which included transforming abandoned buildings into affordable housing and the creation of a housing trust fund. Foley has pledged to follow up with their requests.

    In terms of other projects, the Congress has also voted to support the creation of a 24-hour drop-in center, which will provide safety for people sleeping on the street. The Congress also discussed the recent slew of hate crimes committed in Cleveland and helped draft a safety flyer to hand out in the community.

    All projects of the Homeless Congress operate under the mantra that we’re not trying to solve homelessness—we’re trying to deal with it.

    “I come to these meetings because I want to know, as well as understand, some issues people out here are having,” said Annette Toney, a representative of United Clevelanders Against Poverty. “I used to be [homeless] and I haven’t forgotten where I come from… This is a way for me to be in it, not just of it.” 

    Phillip Anderson, a rep from 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter, said, “My goal is to see homeless people develop pride to change their situation from homeless to non-homeless. When you can show people you care enough to make a change in something, then they themselves will try to make a change in something.” 

    Why does he come to the Congress?

   “To try and bring the best out of people and myself,” replied Anderson.  

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Grapevine Vendor Rep. Grades Local Meals

Review by Mike Voorhees

Meal Site

Address

Grade

Comments

Antioch Baptist Church

8869 Cedar

C-

"I ate there once… not bad. Just a little too far to walk from Downtown."

St. Augustine Center

2486 W. 14th St.

B

"It was really great when they served a hot breakfast."

Cosgrove Center

1736 Superior

C

"The meals have gotten better over the years."

Food Not Bombs

(serving on Public Square)

D

"I really don't like their food… gotten sick a couple of times. But at least they try to help others."

Franklin Circle Church

1688 Fulton Ave.

C

"The food is all right. They have gotten things under control since they got the police in there."

Mercy Seat Mission

3510 Broadview

B

"The times I went there, the food was good."

Northeast Community Meals

8108 Pulaski

N/A

"Never went to a meal there."

Salvation Army Mobile Canteen

 

C

"Not too bad."

St. Herman

4410 Franklin

F-

"I really don't like St. Herman's because you don't know where the food comes from. And it's dirty in there with the dogs and some of the people who stay there."

St. Malachi Church

24501 W. 25th St.

B+

"Good meals - Breakfast and dinner."

St. Patrick Church

 

C+

"The meals are alright. Good helpings sometimes."

Salvation Army

6000 Hough

N/A

"Never ate a meal there."

Trinity Cathedral

2230 Euclid

C-

"The meals are OK, but it's too crowded."

Victory Baptist Church

2045 W. 47th St.

F-

"I have not been there in a while… Maybe they have cleaned the church up since then. The few times I went there, it was not good."

West Side Catholic

3135 Lorain

C

"Has gotten better since they re-modeled the center. The food has gotten better also."

St. Luke

 

C

"The food is good there. They bring it to the tables, like eating at home. They could use the police in there, because it gets out of hand sometimes."

Calvary Church

W. 65th St.

B

"Thursday is soup day. They have pretty good soup. They're nice people."

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

 

Faith Mission is Hell for Homeless in Columbus

Commentary by Pete Domanovic

 When we last heard from Pete Domanovic, in Issue 80, he had taken a bus “straight into hell,” also known as Columbus, OH.  In this issue, his dispatches describe his difficulties in Columbus, particularly with the Faith Mission, and the Columbus Shelter Board.

 1/18/2007:

Columbus, OH

    The subject of where donations go never comes up here in Columbus.  It would seem like the people of this area are completely greedy.  But, just by spending Christmas here, I know better.  There are some very generous people here.  Someone needs to check the books.  If some agency doesn’t want you checking their books, it’s usually because they don’t want you to see something, or they’re doing something illegal.

     Barbara Poppe (Editor’s Note: Barbara Poppe is the director of the Community Shelter Board in Columbus.) has posters on the busses telling people not to give to panhandlers, but to give to her mob instead.  Come look at the conditions at the Faith Mission [one of the main shelters in Columbus], and see for yourself the conditions people have to endure on a daily basis.  The conditions here certainly make me question if her mob is more responsible with money than panhandlers. 

    Even since I started writing this article, things have gotten worse here in Columbus.  They recently started enforcing rules that they never bothered with before.  It is creating chaos in the shelter, simply because they have never had any other way.  Faith Mission owns a building that is completely unused across the street.  But it is easier to ask for money when the shelter is standing room only, and they don’t mind adding some cruelty to that mix, either. 

1/20

    Once again I was told that it wasn’t my place to write about the things I do, and why would I listen to these people anyway?  Well, it was the “drunks and the winos” that kept me alive when I lived on the street at the age of twelve, not the government, or the Salvation Army or the shelters.  These “drunks and winos” also have a lot of good in them.  Many were systematically abused, maybe because they complained about the wrong thing, or didn’t have the mental capacity, or the friends and family to keep them out of the shelter system.  The shelter system needs to be completely overhauled here in Columbus, even if it is bringing in big money.   

1/28

    Well, my stay at the motel lasted only one night. (Editor’s Note: Columbus has an overflow shelter system that utilizes motel vouchers.  On the days the shelters are full, some people receive vouchers to sleep in a motel for the night.) It was really close to my new job, and was really comfortable there for a minute.  The very next day they told me I wasn’t on the list.  Oh well.  They replaced three of us that next night.  No explanation, nothing.  I noticed that the people picked the next night to stay in a motel drove a Cadillac, a Mercedez Benz, and a brand new 2007 Dodge Charger.  Go figure.

    My new job?  I am working for a company that raises money for disabled Veterans.  I actually do take pride in the job, even if some days I only make $8.00.  The thing about it that really throws me is when I call a business or corporation.  They scold me and say, “Do you know you are calling me a business phone?!”  Soldiers didn’t get paralyzed fighting for me to continue my homeless way of life.  It was for “the capitalist way.”  Let’s think about that one.

    The Faith Mission here in Columbus has brought in a security company, but they seem pretty useless.  They have a security guard that hangs out in the penthouse suite on the third floor, but 90% of the problems are in the dungeon on the second floor.  Sometimes the night starts out with as many as 3 security guards, but they never seem to visit the second floor. 

    It seems to me that a dictatorial shelter board is the only form of control the people in charge seem to want in Columbus, and their dictates never seem to benefit homeless people in any way, shape, or form.  They are either completely unaware of the awful conditions at these shelters, meaning they’re incompetent, or it’s on purpose.  This management team at the Columbus shelter board is extremely successful at keeping their money close.  They were successful in running the main homeless source of income, (temporary labor companies), away from the downtown area. The shelter board was successful in getting people to give to them directly, instead of some panhandler who suffers on the street.  The Columbus shelter board has not succeeded in helping anyone who is actually homeless, and they are mute when homeless people are exploited.

    In my opinion, there is absolutely no chance of solving homelessness with Barb Poppe in charge.  Every campaign she gets on actually hurts homeless people, and she doesn’t seem to hire homeless people either.  It has actually been this way here in Columbus for quite some time.  People are glad to occasionally make $20 after three full days of work, and they believe that’s the way it is.  No one can get to the labor pools, even the mail doesn’t come half the time.  What is really bad is that the Columbus Shelter Board knows how rotten they make things, and they still do it anyway.

    I have a pay stub from one of the shelters that I worked for here in Columbus.  If you know anything about deductions and the like, then this place just stole my money.  After showing it to my “advocate,” she told me that if I complained about it, I probably wouldn’t get housing.  Well, thanks for the help and advice.  I can no longer communicate with my “advocate” anyway, because of the hours I work.  Faith Mission has a new system in place where people have to make appointments to see them.  Not surprisingly, I don’t fit anywhere in their available time frame.  There is also no communication other than face-to-face.

    Working people and disabled people are forced to stay in the same shelter here.  They set up their programs to accommodate the disabled, meaning that everything’s done during normal business hours.  Working people are trying to devote those hours to making money.  This makes working counter-productive, because you can only talk to the shelter workers and get the shelter’s services during regular business hours.  I don’t believe for a second that they don’t know what they are doing.  They need this captive audience to get grant money. 

1/30

    After only a couple of weeks, the security guards have been replaced by the Columbus police department.  The guards weren’t effective, and neither are the Columbus police.  I guess the staff here trains them to sit at the front desk and drink coffee.  One night the police came in at about two in the morning screaming something about how it’s illegal to smoke marijuana, and that they would not hesitate to arrest somebody.  Then they went back to where ever.  Now the entire mission is off of drugs and we no longer have to live in fear.

    Several big-wigs were in today.  I was taking a day off to try to get bagged lunches for work from my “advocate.”   The little money that I was making went to feed myself and take the bus.  One big-wig assured me that I would have bus passes and a lunch and still be to work on time.  He even wrote my name in his little notebook.  One hour past the time I was supposed to be at work, I got a lunch.

    I believe all the security will disappear really soon.  That was just a front, and a hurried cleanup for another one of Barbara Poppe’s public relations/fund raising shows.  If you can imagine having to bring in the Columbus police for temporary cleanups, then you can begin to imagine what it’s like when the police aren’t here.  

2/4

    Today is another Sunday at the Faith Mission in Columbus.  What a hustle I saw when they came through looking for their next grant.  They must feel like they got it, because they haven’t been doing anything special lately.  The police presence has pretty much gone.  I’ve seen it happen once before.  The police are told they are ineffective, so they volunteer a few hours to say “Yes we are!” and then they are gone.  The staff seems to hate homeless people now more than ever.

2/5

    I feel my time at the mission is coming to an end, and I’ll be needing to go somewhere else soon.  I’m pretty good at finding jobs and making the money I spend, but it’s not possible to do that here in Columbus.  I can’t even afford to get myself a haircut.  When I look back, it seems to me that these conditions were made this way on purpose.  Talk about exploitation.  After meeting a couple of the directors at the Mission, the first thing that came to mind was the old confidence men.  I don’t think they give a damn about us.

2/7

    I just left the homeless coalition meeting here in Columbus after I got there a little late.  There seemed to be very little discussion about homeless shelters or poor people.  They were all signing a piece of paper about Mother’s Day.  They actually didn’t like it very much when I brought up homeless conditions at the shelter.  A number of people there acted as if I were intruding.  Even a man named Bill, who I knew from the Coalition in Cleveland, informed me that my attitude wasn’t very good.  But, I was making a point that I believe is truthful, and whatever my attitude, people shouldn’t dismiss what I’m saying out of hand.  They especially didn’t like it when I said that the $10,000 grant they received should be used for hiring a strong grant writer, in order to start disassociating themselves from the shelter board. I brought up a few other issues I had about Columbus, and I feel like I am a hated man.  If you bring up questions about where money went, you sure make yourself an outcast.  I am afraid this homeless coalition will just turn out to be the stepchild of the Columbus shelter board.

6/5

    I have been gone from Columbus about a month and a half.  I am actually in Dayton now.  Dayton’s attitude toward helping clients seems to be a 180-degree turn-around from Columbus.  The Saint Vincent Shelter in Dayton is the place I wish I had come to from the beginning.  I’ll tell you all about it, but right now there is still more about Columbus.

    I was really disgusted when the Faith Mission threw people out around March 15; one full month before the end of winter emergency shelter.  After questioning John Hardiman at the Shelter Board, he assured me that those expelled were the problem people at the shelter.  He’s wrong.  I was there when they made the announcement that the people who did not have beds couldn’t stay there anymore.  Some had only been there a few days, and for some, was their first day.  Those people in Columbus really do not have a clue as to what is going on, and really don’t care. 

    Faith Mission also claims to do an evaluation of people who come into the shelter system.  But, there wasn’t one person there I would trust to do a wake-up call, let alone evaluate me (wake up calls there are about a 50-50 chance).  Then again, anyone who doesn’t believe all of this should just go see for themselves.  People I’ve told about how bad things are in Columbus have questioned my “attitude,” but they haven’t stayed at the Mission. 

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Cleveland’s Future Hinges on Shelter Access for Everyone

   The end of guaranteed access to shelter is on the horizon in Cleveland.  This will be one of the saddest days in the history of our great City.  We have held out longer then most of the other major cities in the United States by keeping our shelter doors open through hot summer days and the coldest January evenings.  This policy, although humane, would have eventually bankrupted the County.  It is ironic that turning people away from the shelter may also bankrupt the City.  Our citizens will have to get used to the yearly loss of people dying from weather-related injuries of hypothermia or heat exhaustion every year.  We must accept that many more people will be sleeping outside on Superior Avenue, as we saw in the late 1990s. 

    We are going to see tensions rise between homeless people and downtown businesses.  Expect to see a Downtown that looks more like Detroit with more people fleeing and fewer jobs within the city limits.  We will most likely see hundreds of people taking up residence in these abandoned buildings, which will dramatically expand in certain sections of town.  It seems likely that we will see larger tent cities develop to fill the void left by a lack of overflow shelter space.   There will be criticism of the how “dirty” the downtown is, and panhandling will increase.  The single biggest complaint visitors have about Downtown Cleveland is confrontations with panhandlers.  Without a place to sleep for the men, we will see panhandling skyrocket. 

    What County planners do not understand is shelter math.  They are so focused on the 157 people who sleep at Aviation and replacing those beds for one night, they do not understand the actual number of people who move through the system.  There are so many people who enter and leave the system every day that planners cannot simply look at the bed count for one night.  To effectively plan for the replacement of a shelter, they need to look at the number of people using the shelter for one month.  We have also learned over the last 15 years that any improvement in a shelter will attract more people to it. 

    The current proposal is to use North Point Inn motel as the replacement for Aviation.  This would mean that those most likely to succeed from 2100 Lakeside would go over to North Point.  All of those in Aviation would go to 2100 Lakeside.  There is no other shelter that offers only two people to a room like North Point will offer.  So why would anyone leave this new facility?  It has privacy.  It is free.  It is safe.  This improvement in the system will extend stays in the shelter.  Without movement in the system, 2100 Lakeside shelter will back up with more people seeking help everyday.  Eventually, people will sleep in the cafeteria, and the halls, and the conference room.  In addition, more will seek shelter at the Lakeside facility if they realize they could move into North Point by going through 2100 Lakeside Shelter. 

    Within the next seven months (in the middle of another brutal Cleveland winter), the Lakeside shelter will have to start closing its doors when it gets full, thus ending a 20-year commitment to keeping the doors open to anyone in need of help.  Why are the planners within the County making such horrible decisions?  The simple answer is that homeless people are not at the table.  Homeless people understand shelter math, but are not consulted about these decisions made behind closed doors.

    The Grapevine is asking the County to make these decisions with the input of homeless people.  We are asking that the County planners immediately sit down with homeless people and their advocates before any decisions are finalized.  These are not just dire predictions, or prophecies of doom.  Take a three-hour trip to the west and visit Detroit to see the future of Cleveland.  Anyone who works or enjoys visiting Downtown Cleveland needs to get involved in the future of overflow shelters.  The day Cleveland begins to close the shelter doors is the day we hammer the last nail in the coffin of a viable downtown.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

Biloxi Teaches Kent Students About Rebuilding Lives

Commentary by Katie Cleary

    In March 2007, a year and a half after Hurricane Katrina touched the ground and swept away much of Louisiana and Mississippi, I was one of 150 Kent State students who volunteered at various locations to help clean up and rebuild Biloxi, Mississippi. 

    The unofficial theme of the week was family.  My group worked with Habitat for Humanity on a row of houses that would go to three different families who had put in the hours required to own a home through the charity.  Homeowners must work a total of 300 hours before receiving the key, and forty before they are even given an address.  With these hard-working individuals and the dedicated Habitat and Ameri-Corps volunteers, we helped turn houses into homes.

    I have never eaten and slept so much in my life.  I would eat every meal like it was my last and promptly go to bed at ten o’clock every night, but still feel exhausted after my more than a full night of rest.  My group stayed at the Disciples of Christ Church in Gulfport, MS, and our little crew became more like a family with each passing day.  We all had chores to do everyday, everyone helped with dinner and only five minutes were allowed for each person to shower.

    I learned a lot about construction too; everything from the use of power tools, roofing installation, and even how to put siding up on a house.  I also learned a few things about the housing codes in Mississippi since Katrina.  Now, all houses must have straps nailed into the top and bottom of every beam in the base of the house.  These are conveniently called “hurricane straps.”  I thought that this is just what these straps were called, since most things associated with tools and construction have rough-sounding names, but in this case these straps are there to hold the houses down in the winds of a hurricane.   

    It was surreal to look out at an ocean and walk along a beach with a calm breeze and gentle waves.  Just a little over a year ago, this same water was deadly and engulfing this land and its people, and neither will ever be the same.  It was bizarre to drive around and see homes so close to the ocean not completely intact, but still standing strong.  The circles stating the number dead, alive and injured in the house were still visible.  There were still lines at God’s Katrina Kitchen, people are still homeless and out of jobs, children still not back in regular schools.  Yes, these numbers are smaller, but that does not mean the problems are gone. 

    For me, volunteering is not a selfless act.  I love the feeling that helping others gives me, I love knowing I made a difference.  I know it’s impossible for any individual to fix every problem in the world, but the most important thing to remember is that you can still make a difference.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007

A Brief History of Aviation (High School)

Commentary by Bryce Goodman

    This story originally started with conflicting “rumors” about the fate of Aviation High School.  But conflicting rumors seem to be nothing new for this overflow shelter. 

    The word on the street was that Aviation High School would be shutting down in the near future.  Aviation High School is a homeless shelter located near Burke Lakefront Airport.  Rumors have been circulating for years about what the shelter would become after it shuts down.  Whether it will be destroyed, used as a museum or bought by someone else is anybody’s guess at the moment. 

    The president of the Historical Society Board in Cleveland once considered Aviation to have “promise” as a museum site, but no action toward building a new museum there has taken place.  Two dates were set for the overflow shelter of 2100 Lakeside to become a museum, both in 2005 and April of 2007, but so far nothing has happened  

    Other “rumors” were brewing that the federal government was not happy with the overflow shelter’s close proximity to Burke Lakefront Airport and they will shut the shelter down by November.

    But, when I spoke to Ruth Gillett, director of Cuyahoga County’s Office of Homeless Services, in March, she said she knew of no plans to close the overflow shelter.

    “I’m not aware of any date to close the Aviation High School just yet, and to my knowledge there aren’t any new shelters being built or being used either,” said Gillett.

    Shortly afterward, the story broke in the Plain Dealer that Aviation High School was to close by November.  But, as of this writing, there are still no concrete plans for what will happen when the overflow shelter closes.(for more on this story, please see “Aviation Plans Crashing” in our Local News on page 3.)

    In the early 1990s, a new plan for a system of homeless shelters for men and women in Cleveland was set in motion.  Men’s shelters were used specifically for the winter but they soon changed to year-round shelters.  Women’s shelters, on the other hand, have always been year-round.

    Since the winter of 2003, Aviation High School has been used as an overflow facility for 2100 Lakeside, the area’s largest men’s shelter.  It’s used as an overflow because 2100 Lakeside has the great principle of providing a bed for every man who walks though the door.  But since 2100 Lakeside can only hold about 500 men, they needed to find a quick solution to overcrowding in the shelter.  The solution was sending their overflow to Aviation High School.   

    The overflow shelter has been in use for a little under four years, but we’ll have to wait until November to find out if the new word on the street -- that a lot of people are going to end up on the streets -- is true. 

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 81 June-July 2007