Curfew Issued on Public Square
During the summer session of City Council and without a public hearing, Cleveland officials passed a curfew on Public Square. On August 8, in a bill offered by Councilman Joe Cimperman at the request of the administration, defended a bill first introduced in July that would put a curfew of 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. on three of the four quadrants of Public Square. The Cleveland safety forces offered statistics about a rise in criminal behavior and the perception by area residents that the Square is a dangerous place, and offered the curfew as a tool that police could use to reduce crime.
Those who sleep on Public Square came up repeatedly in the discussion, but the Chief of Police insisted that this law was not directed at homeless people. Megan Wilson of the Catholic Worker community was the only member of the community to speak up in opposition to the ordinance. She said later that she was concerned that this ordinance does not address the criminal element who loiter around the bus stops, and asked for stepped-up police patrols. Wilson was concerned that this law criminalizes purely innocent behavior of sleeping and gives the perception that homeless people are behind the crimes that take place on Public Square.
Aviation Set to Close on Halloween
Aviation High School currently acts as the overflow shelter for men in Cleveland, but will close on Halloween 2007. Federal officials are worried about the security at Burke Airport, and have demanded the closure of the shelter. County officials have worked to open up new beds in the shelter system, and the City of Cleveland has taken possession of North Point Motel on Superior Ave. In the next two months, North Point will open as a transitional shelter operated by Mental Health Services for homeless people who have reached some level of sobriety at 2100 Lakeside shelter. City officials have guaranteed a “Plan B” if 2100 Lakeside shelter becomes full this winter.
US Social Forum Held in Atlanta
The first United States Social Forum took place in Atlanta, Georgia at the end of June. The Social Forum is part of the World Social Forum and was one of the largest gathering of activists to exchange information and resources. There was a large demonstration, during which 10,000 people marched through the City of Atlanta.
Nearly every progressive cause was represented, and there were workshops throughout all three days on a wide variety of topics -- everything from women’s rights to organizing indigenous populations.
There were small groups like Stop Targeting Ohio’s Poor from Cleveland and large groups like the Poor People’s Economic group from Philadelphia and Code Pink for Women. It seemed that there were hundreds of opinions and issues presented in Atlanta with agreement on two things: Georgia is hot in June and the war in Iraq was a big mistake.
The publisher of The Homeless Grapevine, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, nearly went out of business in July of 2007. The Coalition was able to find stable support through the end of 2007, but will need to downsize the organization. The only way for NEOCH to survive until homelessness is solved is to reduce the number of programs that NEOCH administers. The goal is to move some of the programs to other agencies and protect the services that each program provides. The NEOCH Board will present a plan to the community about the long-term future of the organization in October of 2007
Tent City Now at Jacobs Field
The sports lovers living in tents in Downtown Cleveland have moved from the winter sports facility of Browns stadium over to the summer sports facility at Jacobs Field. They have set up an encampment under the I-90 overpass near the Broadway and Orange Avenue exit closer to the front gate of the Indians baseball than most spectators are able to park. Baseball fans approaching from the south or anyone entering downtown from I-77 see a group of six tents and a regular barbeque going. The encampment was threatened by police and radio personalities, but has survived. Anthony, the leader of the group, has pledged to stay and fight. He has stated that the group will not be moved again.
Rep. Barney Frank Introduces Affordable Housing Law
The National Housing Trust was introduced this summer. For over 10 years in Cleveland, we have not developed any new affordable housing that was not targeted at seniors or the disabled. There is a state housing trust, but the federal government has moved away from developing new affordable housing units. The legislation introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (HR 2895), would not increase taxes, but would construct a pool of resources for the development of affordable housing in local communities. If this legislation were passed most of the funds in the first year would go to help with Gulf Coast relief to reconstruct some of the housing lost in 2005 after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 82 October 2007