Homeless Coalition Survives to Fight Another Day

An Open Letter to the Homeless

Advocates of Northeast Ohio 

    The Board of Trustees of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) would like to thank all those readers of the Homeless Grapevine for your outpouring of support.   NEOCH has experienced an extremely rough summer, and were very close to going out of business.  We wanted to keep the readers of the Grapevine up to date about our progress toward finding stable funding since this could result in changes to the 14 year old street newspaper.

    We were overwhelmed with the response from elected officials, formerly homeless people, members, and the media to our financial issues announced in June 2007.  The response to our call for help has allowed us a few months to reorganize in order to become a smaller organization.   The NEOCH Board has addressed our immediate needs, and we are committed to never finding ourselves in this position again.

    We need to thank the many individual donors who stepped forward to help as well as the Gund Foundation and the City of Cleveland.  Never in our history has NEOCH had a contract with the City of Cleveland, but on Wednesday July 11, the City of Cleveland approved a $50,000 contract with the Homeless Coalition. We also must thank Ohio Representative Michael Foley, attorney Subodh Chandra, First Call for Help and Treasurer Jim Rokakis for their creative thinking in helping work through some of our financial issues. Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s office and specifically Laurie Rokakis did a great deal of work to move the federal Housing Department to release funds that we have waited for since March 2007. Finally, all of the major foundations in the community were helpful in focusing on our priorities and reinforcing the importance of the Coalition to the Cleveland community.  We have to specifically thank the Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation and the Deaconess Community Foundation for their help.

    We realize that the only way to assure that we never are faced with the possibility of closing our doors until every homeless person has their own door to close we must streamline our operation.  To this end, the NEOCH Board of Trustees will be working over the next two months on a plan for increasing support for our core operations while attempting to find consistent and viable funding for all of our programs.  This may result in changing our relationship with programs like Bridging the Gap, Cleveland Community Voice Mail, Homeless Legal Assistance or the Homeless Grapevine or even moving those to the umbrella of another non-profit.   The NEOCH Board strongly believes in the value of each of the programs and the thousands of the people that they help.  At the same time, we also realize that we need to move back to be an incubator of new programs that are then adopted by the larger community. 

    NEOCH Board members are committed to the core mission of the organization of advocacy and public education. We will continue to push solutions forward to end homelessness, and to work for the prevention of homelessness for every individual or family struggling with housing stability. We believe that reducing the number of programs that we oversee will strengthen our core mission by continuing to advocate against policies that target homeless people. The NEOCH Board and staff are committed to working with homeless people on creating housing and programs that lead to a reduction in homelessness. 

    The Board is working on moving a few of the programs, but not damaging the mission and the operations of those programs.  We do not want to see the dedicated staff serving homeless people lost or the programs to be forced to change, and there is no talk of termination of any of the programs.  The NEOCH Board is looking for homes for the programs, which will benefit homeless people, and we hope will lead to an expansion of services or opportunities.

    We are actively working to find additional board members as well as volunteers to help with our fund raising efforts.  Please give the office a call if you are or you know of talented individuals who have a passion for solving homelessness locally.

 Sincerely, 

The NEOCH Board of Trustees

Publisher of the Homeless Grapevine newspaper

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 82 October 2007