Where am I Going to Live?

By Steve Spalek 

On Sunday morning, July 24, 1993 the county employees decided that enough is enough and tried to close Project: HEAT, site F, a homeless shelter located at 1642 Lakeside Avenue in downtown Cleveland.  However, the county was not able to succeed thanks to 40 or so clients.

The clients, who use site F as a place to sleep, decided to come together to look themselves inside the shelter building instead of leaving at the normal 6:30an time. The director of Project: Heat, Barbara Williams, came running down to our places and said she was outraged by what we are doing. She told us we must leave, or she would call the police, and we told her, “ Go ahead, and make our day”

Well, time passed, and the director did call the police and they came with about six cruisers. The police came in and again asked us to leave. We told them we had no place to go so weren’t leaving. Ms. Williams told us we weren’t allowed to go to another site and we would have to sleep out on the street for at least 3 nights. We told her , “ No way”. When the police arrived, they saw that we meant no harm to anyone so they left.

Well, timed passed. We were fed thanks to the generosity of St. Augustine and the Salvation Army’s Christmas in July [program taking place the same day. Then finally about 4:30pm or so, a decision was made which allowed us to stay another week until

Project: HEAT could find us another place. They did. It was Harbor Light, a complex owned by the Salvation Army. “Harbor Light is terrible” said one of the clients. The basement hall they put us in has ventilation – no windows or air of any type. The bathroom facility has only one toilet and one sink for 40 plus guys to use , and no shower. Then they wonder why the guys stink.

The homeless on the streets of Cleveland have skills such as carpentry, plumbing, construction, and electric and would like you help in finding us a new building for shelter. So if you have a vacant building in the city, whether it be downtown or wherever, and would like it to be fixed up and wouldn’t mind some homeless guys moving in, please write us c/o The Homeless Grapevine and we will get back to you

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine Fall 1993 Issue 3

Poor No More: Closing the Gap of Exclusion

There will be a state wide “Poor No More” conference in Columbus, Ohio on October 4th and 5th at the Radison Hotel. This poor people’s conference will have a series of workshops and will conclude on the last day with a rally to the Statehouse.

The workshops include: welfare, homelessness, utilities, accessible public transportation, employment, hunger, child care, education and health care. There will be various speakers from the state of Ohio addressing these issues.

The purpose of the conference is to build a platform whereby homeless and/or poor people can voice their opinions and lobby the State House. 300 people from across the state will attend. Many of these people are poor, homeless, and without health care or education.

Some locals folks are volunteering to help with the planning, and 30-50 people will attend the Columbus conference to represent Cleveland. For more information about the “Poor No More” conference, please contact NEOCH at 241-1104

Copyrights of  NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine Fall of 1993 Issue 3

Operation Brown Bag

By Steve Spalek

They have been doing it for seven long years on Public square in front of Stouffers Hotel, every Sunday morning and evening. I’m talking about the Brown Bag Ministry sponsored by Bethel Temple Church located in Parma, Ohio.

Operation Brown Bag was created about seven years ago, by the parishioners of Bethel Temple. The purpose was to feed the less fortunate and the Homeless of Cleveland. So, after long hard thought and lot of prayer they came up with the Brown Bag Ministry.

Brown Bag Ministry? YES! Brown Bag Ministry starts off its day every Sunday morning about 9:00am by coming down to Public Square and distributing hot coffee and donuts to the city’s needy. Next, the Bethel Temple church bus pulls up and takes about 30 or so people to church in Parma. Finally they come back from services about 12:30 PM and that’s when Operation Brown Bag starts back up.

O.B.B. runs like this; Each family who attends the church is asked to bring to church a sack lunch which can be given out on the truck that afternoon. About 150-200 Bags are collected each week and are given out. 

The lunch usually consists of a sandwich, (sometimes meat) fruit, cookies or chips and always a cup of homemade soup. In fact, when they started out seven years ago, they were making 10 gallons and were still running out!  Occassionally, someone does donate a large amount of something to the ministry, so they cook it up and give it to the needy.

So when Sunday comes around, and you feel that you are lone, come on down to Public Square and be with the people who care about you and feel the warmth they have to offer you.

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine Fall1993 Issue 3

Reaching Out to the Homeless Mentally Ill

A Testimony to Akron’s Housing Needs Assessment Hearing

By David M. Pacetti

            “Before I became a homeless advocate, I struggled for four years as an advocate for persons with a psychiatric disability. I have not relinquished that mission. In fact, it was that mission that brought me to this arena. Many to most of the homeless carry the stigma of mental illness; The stigma, nurtured in myths and stereotypes, that prevents the homeless mentally ill from receiving the help they desperately need. So they remain in denial of their condition. Many of the homeless mentally ill, who have languished in the locked wards of a public psychiatric hospital, who have suffered extreme abuse and neglect during the dark ages of mental health that were not so long ago, have sufficient justification to fear and refuse psychiatric treatment. I strongly believe that new funding should be created to expand the role of the Choices drop-in center, that was created to meet the socialization needs of persons with a psychiatric label, but has discovered the needs of many persons with a psychiatric label, but has discovered the needs of many person from the general homeless population. the *homeless drop- in center, still in the planning stage, must have a strong mental health component.

            Social service agencies must engage in intensive outreach efforts to reach a population that is disabled by learned helplessness, and must be properly funded to do so. Marianne Goldyn RN, of the Community Support Services Homeless Outreach Project has demonstrated a standard of excellence for what can be accomplished by one person committed to responding to need rather than demand alone.

            The homeless need to have a person at the local level of government, empowered with executive authority, to collaborate with advocates who are engaged in the creation of emergency lodging or transitional housing, to enable advocates in circumventing laws and regulations created without any consideration for the life and death struggle of the homeless.

            As one of the principal organizers of the Grace Park Tent City, I have been told that I should forget about what happened there; That I inflict injury on our cause by even mentioning the twelve day demonstration. How can I forget about the Love and Courage I saw demonstrated there? How can I remain silent about the resolve and determination of the people there, who have been labeled as lazy and hopeless? This demonstration resulted in the creation of Unity House, a progressive home for homeless men, supervised and operated by the formerly homeless residents. The Homeless Organization does not have a monopoly on the philosophical design of Unity House; Nor the initiative and vision that created it. If a handful of volunteers, without funding or planning, were able to create such a bold and spontaneous project, I can only imagine what government, collaborated with faith communities and advocacy groups would be able to accomplish.

            My mission as a homeless advocate is to prevent government and the community, as much as possible, from participating in a collective delusion; A delusion insulated by antiquated class distinctions and unfair value judgments; The delusion that homeless people are responsible for their socio- economic status; The delusion that there are not enough resources available to end homelessness: The delusion that we do not have an individual moral responsibility to make the ending of homelessness our priority.”

*The Homeless drop- in center, as conceived by a committee in Summit County, will provide practical amenities such as showers, lockers and mailboxes.

Editor's Note: Mr. Pacetti is a mental health consumer and formerly homeless. He is a member of the Summit County Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and a board member of the Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.

Published in the Fall of 1993 by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine in Cleveland Ohio.  NEOCH maintains the copyright on this article.

Men of Site "F" A Protest at Project HEAT

By Robert Williams

             Have you often wondered what it was like to be able to win a battle with the country? A small story I am going to explain to you will kind of give you an idea of what it is like.

            On Thursday, July 22, 1993 a stack of papers came into Site F, stating that the site will be close as of Saturday which was brought in by Mrs. Barbara Williams. Myself and some of the other guys {such as} Jerry Watson, Sarge, Joseph Bryant, Carl Ellis, Sam Jackson all got together and started planning on the move we were going to make. At first everything was set up for Friday until we found out we were going to be here till Sat. night Sun. morning. So now Saturday night rows in and things are being made ready. Our last plans are made and we are just waiting until the morning comes. Sunday morning is here and everyone is awakened... First I talked to the people and explain the plans of the morning. Myself and Site F men decided to sit in and had no intentions of leave until someone came down and talked with us. It is now about 6:30am and things are just getting started. The worker of the night was inform of what we were doing and they explain to us what they had to do as far as calling their boss (Barbara Williams) and explain to her what was happening at Site F... Once again me and the men got together and wrote out a list of demands... The list

1. Demands in writing and which copies

2. Meeting immediately with

A. Barbara Williams (Project HEAT director)

B. Louise Simmons (County staff assigned to homelessness)

C. County Administrator/and city

D. Joe Mieser from Legal Aid

E. Ron Reinhart (staff) as negotiator for Site F.

3. Discuss a site or time to be able to find a permanent site effective as of July 25,1993

4. Food & Drinks...

So after this time has gone by. Enough time for Barbara Williams to arrive. Her first question to the Men of Site F was, what going on? So we explain it to her we are having a sit in as to where no one is leaving here until our demands are reached. She explain to us that we will be trespassing and that she would have to call the police. Well police finally arrive and were outside talking with Barbara, we then went in to let the men know the police were here. A few men got up and left out because of personal problems but the sit in was still on in the rest of the men’s.

With the men behind me, I had no fear of what was about to happen. So, the police are on their way in now. Asking to speak to me I simply say sure we can talk. One officer insisted that I step outside to speak, I then insisted on staying behind the desk the men set up for me behind the lines we had set up for ourselves. Once again the officer insisted and once again I refused explaining to him, he could come across the lines and speak with me in room which is our sleeping quarters, he refused. So now there is again a stand off. Giving Barbara a list of the demands she soon had departed and here we are left with police and the building security trying to figure out what to do. So we decided once again it was time to call the media down. Channels 3-5-8 and 43 just as well as the plain dealer as of which as came down. Police decided to make another move after standing outside and discussing what their next move was going to be. So they come back in putting on gloves saying we were going to vacate to property. Now it back to our demands, we are not leaving. Police talked among themselves and decided to call someone in with rank. They back off. By this time the news media cam. Explaining to the media what was going on and also giving them a list of demands things started to get heated.

Some of the demands started happening. Ron Reinhart finally arrives which made all of us fell a little better. Explaining to Ron Reinhart has happened so far as the police were concerned, he agreed to be our negotiator. Then Barbara came back just as well as the Lt. for the police. We were not able to hear the conversation going on out side the building between Barbara the Lt. and Ron so we just sit patiently and waited inside. It has to be about 9:00 or 10:00am I guess and the men are hungry. Ron makes a call out to St. Augustine and without delay something was provided for us to eat as always from St. Augustine. In any kind of crisis, I know they have always been there.

So we had something to eat and realized we are still at war. By this time everything outside was at ease and the Lt. is on his way in. Walking up to me the Lt. asked if he may have a word with me? I replied "sure come on over". He did. Taking him into our sleeping quarter he began. "Mr. Williams my name is Lt. __. I have an idea about was going and he understand what we were going." Anyway conversation went on between and he decided to wait things out until the Men of Site F, has seen al of the media we had set up.

So we shook hands and decided to wait. He said none of the officers would bother using anyway as long as everything was okay and it was. He said he would check with us later he left. Now the media is really starting to come in one behind the other. Setting up a good part of the night writing out copies of the demands I was kind of tired but every time I laid down another T.V. station popped up. Questions of what did I think was going to happen and many others. Well time went on and its going on 2:00pm. Lt. comes back to check once again on things making sure everything is going smooth and wished us luck. News media checking in again to see if there has been a change. So its time to eat again. Ron set up to go down to the Salvation Army's Christmas in July dinner explaining to them what we were doing and once again Salvation Army came through. Now we are really eating and drinking. In quoting one of my men Sarge, the stand off in little Waco in truly a stand off. But we are being taken care of by good-hearted people who always are with us in this fight. Time marches on. Nothing has happened. Well before all of this has happened a member of NEOCH and personal friend of mine and Jerry Watson, Mr. Brian came down to lend a hand in our quest. Arming himself with markers and poster paper in hand, the signs went up everywhere.

Thank God for good relationship amongst friends. Coming in just in time before the media came again, this time with a surprise. Mr. Danny Williams, County Administrator arrived with T.V. cameras behind him and asked if we could talk once again. I agreed.

Discussing and understanding our cause, Mr. Williams agreed to give the Men of Site F a week extension if we agreed to call off the sit-in, which would give Project: HEAT enough time to find a site and relocate Site F. It was now 3:00pm or 4:00pm and for the moment everyone was in agreement of things. Mr. Williams also stated that there would be a meeting in Cleveland City Hall on Monday concerning our problems finding a site.

Well, as you can see, sometimes it pays to fight for your rights. Even if everything is not settled as of yet, the war is not won, but the battle goes on.

Published in the Fall of 1993 by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine who maintain the copyright.