Saturday, October 29, 2005

Street Names

The memorial for Symeon Hurt was appropriately respectful and a move toward some healing. We learned that Mr. Hurt used a street name of Mike Youngblood, which is why we had a hard time finding contacts in the homeless community. He was known on the streets as Mike. This is common in the community to have a street name. Most are more like nicknames (Red, Spaz, Tree), but some people have an entirely different identity. Some are hiding from some past trauma. Others enter an entirely new world when they enter homelessness, and in doing so create a new personality. Others do not want this experience to haunt them in the future and so they create a temporary identity that they will leave when they get back into permanent housing.

We also heard from the owner of the Car Wash that Mike or Symeon worked. She had a genuine friendship with Mr. Hurt and tried to take care of him over the last few years. We heard about his volunteer activities at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, and Angelo Anderson recognized him from his years managing 2100 Lakeside Shelter. Other speakers included Len Calabrese of the Catholic Commission, Rev. Greg Jacobs of Trinity Cathedral, Earl Pike of the AIDS Task Force, and Rev. Kelly Burd of NEOCH. We heard that Mike or Symeon was kind and thoughtful. Melvin Hurt, Symeon's father, as well as Mr. Grey his uncle from St. Louis also told personal stories of Symeon's life. The family was preparing to assist Symeon with a move to St. Louis to live with his uncle who was a professional counselor. The family were actively involved in trying to get Symeon help with housing and some of his other problems. He visited them usually every week. The family graciously talked to media in their time of mourning, and asked the media to continue to put out the call for witnesses to come forward.

The AIDS Task Force set a somber and appropriate setting for a memorial, and a local caterer donated a wonderful spread of food. I pledged that NEOCH would continue to focus some energy on this incident to make sure that our public entities do the proper investigation and respect Symeon Hurt's memory. It would only compound this tragedy if we had let Hurt's passing quietly slip by us. We will not forget.


Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What is Happening in Other Cities

Staff were able to visit with other large cities in Ohio to discuss joint activities. We can learn a lot from the experience of the other Coalitions in Ohio about how to better address the problem of homelessness. For example, the Cincinnati Coalition has a fantastic curriculuum on homelessness that they market to teachers and school districts. The Columbus Coalition has this wonderful yearly conference to educate social service providers. The focus this year was on racism and its impact on homeless people. Dayton has constructed a impressive overflow system to make sure that no one has to sleep on the steets. All the local Coalitions have formed an organization called the Ohio Coalition for Homeless Advocates to try and build a movement to forward Civil Rights and joint projects to sustain advocacy at the local and state level. We will have more information about the activities of OCHA in the near future.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Memorial Set for Homeless Man Killed by Hit and Run Driver

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the AIDS Task Force will co-host a memorial to remember Symeon Hurt, 27, who was killed by a hit and run driver on Thursday October 20 at 7 a.m. The truck was recovered and police have a suspect. Mr. Hurt had spent years battling an addiction and had spent some of his adult life homeless. He also worked and volunteered at a few of the social service providers in the area. We will remember Mr. Hurt on Friday October 28 at 3 p.m. at the AIDS Task Force offices at 3210 Euclid Ave. We will hear from family and friends of Mr. Hurt. This Memorial is intended to call attention to violence against homeless people and to pledge that our community will not tolerate people running down homeless people and leaving them to die on the streets.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

An interesting debate

I had an interesting discussion with a group of homeless men today about the nature of a group meeting within a shelter. Are they a trade union or tenant council and allowed to act on any issue that they choose or are they strictly meeting to discuss internal operations and every decision stays within the shelter? This issue stikes at the heart of organizing people and is critically important for the community. It was interesting that many felt that they do not feel comfortable in rocking the boat since their stay is so precarious. This is a common issue that we at NEOCH confront. There are tons of worthy charities in the community that serve homeless people, but those who utilize the services are always worried that any criticism will mean that the program will close down and cease operation. It is very easy for all us to complain about a politician or a landlord or a business, but it is another thing to have the courage to complain about an organization that holds your entire life in their hands.Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

First post

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.