Fire Leads to Eviction
If you are Downtown, you might have noticed these flyers directed at Homeless people. They give a deadline of this Wednesday January 11, 2006 for homeless people to move from the Convention Center property. We are aware of this issue, and have spoken to police and the local outreach workers to try and help relocate some of these individuals and couples. A few of the people have slept in front of the glass doors near the Mall B for years without being disturbed. So why are they being asked to leave now?
It seems that there was a fire targeting a gay couple who slept near the Convention Center and Brown's Stadium. This caused damage to the metal doors of the Convention Center and was the last straw for the staff at the Convention Center. They demanded that police evict these squatters. This has been a relatively safe place since no one walked by these locations and staff had left them alone. These were mostly either couples who have no shelters available or people who have a problem with staying in a congregate living space. So now because of a suspected hate crime, they will all have to move. The Cleveland Police never really did anything because the staff at the Convention Center staff seemed to tolerate all this activity.
This eviction does not fall under the agreement signed with the City of Cleveland in 1999 because the Convention Center is a park, and there are special rules for parks. NEOCH signed an agreement that police would not harass homeless people for purely innocent behavior like sitting, sleeping or standing on the sidewalk. This covers the public sidewalks, but does not cover public parks. It seems that parks have curfews and special laws that were not covered in our lawsuit. We are doing everything we can to try to help those who stay around the Convention Center find appropriate places to live (preferably inside). We all know what a pain it is to move especially in the winter.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.