NEOCH’s mission is to organize and empower homeless and at-risk men, women and children to break the cycle of poverty through public education, advocacy and the creation of nurturing environments.
In 1988, Lisa Thomas, Sister Mary Frances Harrington, Rev. George Hrbek, Pat Tomcho, and Catherine Lowe founded the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH). It was the successor to the Emergency Shelter Coalition. Since then, NEOCH has been a non-profit coalition of service providers, housing activists, members, and homeless people. We are called a "coalition" because we bring together diverse interests – from religious groups to homeless people to social service providers – with the common goal of finding solutions to homelessness. NEOCH stands uniquely poised to take on an exciting, yet challenging role within the community and continue as the primary resource for homeless advocacy in Northeast Ohio.
NEOCH has developed its vision by actively listening to, mobilizing, and working with those currently experiencing homelessness. We envision a society without homelessness. We know reaching this goal begins with pushing society, particularly service providers and the government, to treat people experiencing homelessness with dignity and respect. The homeless need better shelter standards, more county support, more accessible housing, and –most importantly– more chances to have their input heeded. Our strategic plan for 2017-2020 was developed in coordination with both folks experiencing homelessness and our Board.
NEOCH activities, in partnership with the homeless, include the publication of The Cleveland Street Chronicle, co-sponsorship of the Stand Down service fair, staffing for service and outreach collaborations, coordination of the Homeless Congress, improving and expanding access to services, sponsorship of the Homeless Candlelight Vigil, protecting the right to vote by homeless people, publication of various Street Cards, construction of a host of educational and advocacy activities, and more. We are constantly adapting our work to meet the changing needs of people experiencing homelessness.