Saturday, December 31, 2005

Overlooked stories of 2005

Homelessness Still Not on the Front Pages...

There were hundreds of stories from 2005 having to do with homelessness that did not make the news. Here are the top 10. One that was never mentioned in the media was the U.S. Conference of Mayors report on hunger and homelessness. The report stated that there were a decreased level of resources and not an adequate quantity of food in our community. Here is the text about shelter for Cleveland:

"Shelter demand remains high, but has not increased significantly over the past
year. Increased efforts at moving longer term shelter residents into housing
continue to be offset by new people coming into the system. There continues to
be a need to use an overflow facility to accommodate all single men seeking
shelter. Full service shelters for families are always full. The Community
Women's Shelter houses families on a temporary basis until other space becomes
available. It has recently been taking longer to place families in full service
shelters because of the slow turnover of rooms in family shelters. One shelter
can accommodate two parent families. If that shelter is full, couples may have
to go to separate shelters. The state shelter standards have been changed to
prevent publicly funded shelters from continuing policies that separate teenage
boys from their mothers."
NEOCH pushed to make sure that the State enforced this law in 2004, but some shelters still violate this law. The City of Cleveland reported a 1% increase in requests for shelter and a 2% increase in requests for families seeking shelter. They also report a decrease in shelter beds in 2005.

Other stories ignored:

  • There were over 300 families or some 700 individuals who made it up to Cleveland from the Hurricanes in the Gulf. They did not come in one plane load, but they slowly trickled up here. Our community did a great job in responding. If our home grown homeless could get even half the level of care, we would have solved this problem years ago.
  • The problems NEOCH had with not being allowed into the Women's Shelter and the intervention of Congressman Kucinich after the County bungled the response.
  • The expanding problems at East Side Catholic Shelter/Miracle Village that could lead to the demise of those programs and the loss of over 100 beds.
  • The fact that actual homeless people are not involved in the decisions for how to spend $11 million in federal homeless dollars.
  • The re-introduction of the Bring America Home Act, which would be a major step forward to addressing homelessness at a national level.
  • The one year of continued improvements at 2100 Lakeside Shelter since the Lutheran Metro Ministry took over.
  • The escalating war that has broken out in the Ohio City neighborhood for the heart and soul of this diverse and historic neighborhood. The first salvo was the stripping of the words "affordable housing" from the Development Corporation's mission and the election of a hostile board. A splinter group has started that is friendly to poor people and the current battle is over the replacement of the Riverview apartments.
  • The utter uselessness of the State government in fighting homelessness. They have created a silly InterAgency Task Force that is useless. They studied predatory lending and did nothing. Dems cannot keep hiding under the "We are in the minority" tent. At least they could be proposing legislation to address poverty and homelessness even if it gets shot down. Talk, talk talk about poverty, jobs, and health care until the media starts listening!!!
  • 2005 saw the largest number of homeless people die when compared to the previous 18 years in Cleveland. No group locally picked up the story of the national report on the health effects of homelessness released by the National Healthcare for the Homeless.

We will look at things to look out for in 2006, and give an overview of each of the programs under the NEOCH umbrella in 2005 in this space over the next few weeks.

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

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