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