Sunday, July 30, 2006

Upcoming Coalition Events

Listen, Attend, and Learn

A few brief updates on Events coming up for the Homeless Coalition. Yes, we will update our website this week.

Monday July 31, 2006 on WCPN 90.3 FM
David C. Barnett is doing a feature on the Street Voices Project of the Coalition. This will feature interviews with Sabrina Otis one of our formerly homeless Moms in the program. You will also hear from Teri' Horne who created the program in its current form and Charlene Higginbotham who currently administers Street Voices. This is an example of the amazing work of the AmeriCorps*VISTA program. Tune in at 6:20 a.m. and 7:50 a.m. at 90.3 FM for the report or as always you can catch it by podcast from their website.

Wednesday September 20, 2006 at the VOA Veterans Resource Center
The Coalition in collaboration with the Veterans Administration will host a Teach In to explain the services offered to homeless individuals who served in the armed services. We will meet at the Volunteers of America Veterans Resource Center at 775 East 152nd St. at 6 p.m.on 9/20/06. There will be a tour of this new shelter and an overview of the other projects in the community. We will also have a panel of current or formerly homeless veterans talk about the services. There will be more information on our website in the next few weeks, and the opportunity to RSVP on our website.

Friday October 20, 2006 at the Bishop Cosgrove Center
The Coalition along with a large number of social service providers will have a one day social service fair focusing on housing. The event is entitled "From Homeless to Housed," and will include tables and information from the social service providers in the community. The event will also feature a two hour class explaining all the subsidized programs in the community as well as an explanation of how to use the Housing Cleveland website and the First Call for Help website. The event is 10 to 3 pm and details will be on our website soon.

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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oscar Goodman Laws Revisited

We Hold These Truths to be Self Evident: Las Vegas Sucks

A new law has been passed in Las Vegas. This law makes it illegal to provide food or meals to the indigent for free or for a nominal fee in parks. What's an indignant, you ask? The law defines it as "a 'person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive assistance' from the government under state law." The mayor, Mayor Oscar GOODMAN, offers a better definition: "Certain truths are self-evident. You know who's homeless."

Is he alluding to a famous Thomas Jefferson quote in order to bash homeless people? Never in my life have I more wanted the skeletal remains of the Author of the Declaration of Independence to claw his way out of his grave and exact revenge on those who have invoked his name. How Mayor Goodman will shudder when the gaunt hand still crawling with maggots pins him down and he realizes that it is the Father of the University of Virginia that shall feast on his brains tonight.

Since that lazy fog-breather Jefferson isn't returning to a semblance of unlife anytime soon, I offer this in exchange: Your law doesn't say that people receiving assistance from the government aren't allowed to eat in your parks, it says that people who look like people receiving assistance from the government aren't allowed to eat in your parks. Oh, Mayor Goodman, you don't really have anything against people who are homeless. You just hate when people look homeless.

Don't you get it, Osky? What you have is a self-image problem. You're projecting your own inadequacies onto the people you govern. When you say, "You're not allowed to accept food because you look homeless," what you really mean is, "I'm not allowed to eat because I look homeless." It's okay, Osky-pooh. You don't really need stricter local regulation laws on the city's impoverished. You just need to hear someone tell you that you are beautiful.

Mayor Oscar Goodman, you are beautiful. You are as unique as a snowflake and as much an integral part of Spaceship Earth as the smallest budding seed. No one else can be a better Oscar Goodman than you, Oscar Goodman. If I lived in Las Vegas, I'd buy you an ice cream cone and we'd both sit in your park and be beautiful together.

If any of you beautiful people out there (because you all are beautiful, each and every single one of you) are concerned about Oscar Goodman and the people of Las Vegas, please, just write the mayor and tell him he's beautiful. He also has a phone number (702-229-6241), and I know he would love to hear an honest voice telling him he doesn't need to be afraid to look in the mirror. His fax machine can also be used at the fax number 702-385-7960. If nothing else, please visit him, City Hall, Tenth Floor; 400 Stewart Avenue; Las Vegas, NV 89101. Business hours are Monday-Friday 8 AM to 5 PM.

Posts by NEOCH Board and Staff

Oscar Goodman Laws

Las Vegas Tops Jackson Mississippi in Stupid Laws

From 1876 to 1964, the United States struggled against Jim Crow laws of the South that segregated African Americans to different schools, rail cars, drinking fountains, etc. Today, we are met with "Oscar Goodman" laws targeting homeless people. Las Vegas has remained in the top 5 of the "Meanest Cities in the United States" according to the National Coalition for the Homeless for the last three years. They have strict panhandling laws, anti-camping laws, and pretty much every other kind of law targeting those without homes. Now Vegas is trying to out shine Jackson Mississippi and their crazy curfew law.

Mayor Oscar Goodman has enacted an anti-feeding program which defines an indigent person as someone who a reasonable person would believe that the individual was entitled to government assistance or in other words anyone that looka like they just flew across the country arriving late at night or all those people who work 18 hours a day in order to make the rent. A totally unenforceable law enacted by a bully. Goodman, after making the mean city list in 2005 said that next time he was in Washington DC he was going to kick the NCH directors butt. I am proposing referring to all these laws directed at homeless people around the country as Oscar Goodman laws. His name would go down in history representing all that is wrong with American cities.

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

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Update on NEOCH Board Secretary

Bufford Finally Released from Hospital

We posted a message in the middle of May 2006 about our Vice President, Marcia Bufford. A brief update for our friends. Marcia was in rehabilitation at MetroHealth for the past 2 months to regain the ability to walk and talk. She was released from the hospital on Tuesday, and is resting at home. Things looked bleak in May, but she has made amazing progress after being shot. She is walking and talking now, and working on putting her affairs back in order.

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

More on City of Jackson

Doublespeak Alive and Well in Mississippi

I just want to report on whatÂ’s going on in Jackson Mississippi. A lot of the articles I read tend to spin it as a great idea. Just for fun, let's try a different spin:

Mayor Frank Melton of Jackson, Mississippi, has set a curfew specifically for homeless people. If you are homeless, it is illegal for you to be on the streets after 10 PM. If you are found on the street after 10 PM, you are taken to a "facility" where you are clothed and fed. It's not a jail, though, because these people aren't under arrest. It's just a building the local police forcibly escort you to and which you are not allowed to leave until they say so.

Think what you want about the above spin, I would like to point out a small passage that turns this whole topic from debatable to creepy:

"Melton closed the shelter in the gym Sunday afternoon because it is used during the week for summer youth programs. The remaining homeless people were taken to the Billy Brumfield Shelter, with the exception of Jonathan Graham, a 17-year-old from Texas who now is living with the mayor."

Frank, I'm not here to judge you. I'm just here to say that rounding up all the homeless people in your city and from them picking a minor to take home like a five-year-old picking a puppy out of a store window is, well, it's weird, Frank. I know you must think I'm just ants at a picnic. All I can say to that is: I am not a colony of ants, and what you are doing is no picnic.

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

The Worst Law Against Homeless People in the US

Jackson Mississippi Mayor Violates Rights with "Homeless Curfew"

The City of Jackson and its Mayor, Frank Melton, have developed a strategy to sweep homeless people off the streets--a "homeless curfew." The plan went into effect on Friday July 13, and would force homeless people into a gymnasium at 10 p.m. or face arrest. To justify the City extending the "hospitality" to homeless people, they will be required to mow the lawn, clean and do other menial tasks in exchange for their stay.

This is the worst idea ever by a major American city to address homelessness. Melton is African American and his city has passed a 10 year plan to end homelessness. This effort to make it illegal to be homeless kills the concept of ending homelessness. I can only characterize this as an internment camp for homeless people.

Many people choose not to use shelter because of the large number of rules or others feel that it strips them of their dignity. There are many who do not want to accept charity or do not want to have to admit that they have a problem. Some individuals have a paranoia about living in a group setting. Others do not trust the government or have health complications that make it difficult to live in a group setting. Forcing people into a shelter is a violation of the rights of the disabled and the freedom of movement of an adult population.

Shelter is only an answer for a small number of individuals. Forcing people into shelter is not the answer for anyone. The solution is a diverse path off the streets to serve the diverse needs of those who end up homeless. A community needs direct housing, comprehensive supportive services, treatment on demand, preventative health care, income support, and mixed income housing. Forcing people into a shelter and then forcing them to work for their stay can only be characterized as slavery.

With 25% of the homeless population veterans, imagine the indignity of the man having served in Iraq coming back to the safe streets of Jackson where he graduated from high school, worked, and paid taxes then being forced into a gymnasium after becoming homeless. This veteran had honorably served to protect democracy on foreign soil then returned to America and was unable to find democracy in his home city of Jackson. Many veterans develop addictions or mental illnesses because of the trauma they witness, and then cannot find the help they need in the States. It is the ultimate betrayal to force veterans and in fact any homeless person into a gymnasium and then forcing them to work for their stay.

I agree that homeless people should not live on the streets and there is one way to solve this problem: affordable, safe, decent housing for all. Judging homeless people as a threat is wrong headed and must be challenged in court. In a Southern city that did not see African Americans actually free to vote for 100 years after the Civil War, this law is a throwback to the 1950s.

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

Monday, July 10, 2006

One Year of Panhandling Law in Cleveland

Panhandling Law Results

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless filed an open records request to look at the first year of the Cleveland panhandling ordinance. Here are the results. We will have a more detailed look in the next Grapevine.

From July 2005 when the ordinance was passed until December 31, 2005, the City Police issued 9 tickets. In the second six months (January 2006-June 2006), they issued 62 tickets for aggressive solicitation or asking for money in the wrong place. 65 different people got tickets of the 71 total tickets issued, so only a few were repeat offenders. The most aggressive panhandler in the City of Cleveland over the last year was Kenneth Tate with three tickets. He actually was responsible for 22% of the tickets in 2005 with two, then another one in 2006.

It seems that if your name is Brooks or Jones you tend to be aggressive when you ask for money with 3 different people named Brooks and three different Joneses receiving tickets.

The worst two day period to be a panhandler was May 11 and 12, Thursday and Friday, when 5 tickets were issued to five different people.

The worst month to be a panhandler was April 2006 when 27% of all the tickets were issued with April 22-26 Friday to Wednesday the worst week of the year.

The most bizarre and most likely made up name for an aggressive panhandler was Calvin Myhand Jr. who received two tickets. Also, a patriot who has his own beer, Sam Adams, was given a ticket for his aggressive behavior--TWICE.

We are still waiting from the Courts to see what the disposition of all these tickets have been. Were these guys jailed? Did they pay their fines? We will see, and report on this when we get that information.

Do you feel safer in the Downtown? Are the panhandlers that you meet nicer since the ordinance went into effect? When this ordinance was debated in City Council, Ward 21 (Lakewood Lite) Councilman Mike Dolan said that his wife was afraid to come Downtown because of the panhandlers. We need to ask our good friend Mike if his wife has visited the center of her City in the last year.

The most surprising part of all of this information is that the Wolstein Group did not receive one aggressive panhandling ticket over the last year. They have gone to extremes to take the East Bank of the Flats, and have not received one aggressive solicitation ticket. No justice.

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

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Congratulations to the New Social Justice Media Person

Feagler Wins Community Shares Award

So, I sent this to the Plain Dealer and gave them a week to publish. No dice. So here you go.

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to Dick Feagler for winning the Social Justice Media Person of the Year from Community Shares. Thank you so much for publishing that wonderful commentary the day after winning the Social Justice Award identifying the source of all of our problems in Northeast Ohio: "beggars."” It is refreshing to see Mr. Feagler use his new found recognition as a champion of social justice to beat up on the rich and powerful panhandlers.

I was pleased the Feagler was attacking men who have the nerve to stand out in the hot sun and admit that they are poor for eight hours. Those panhandlers are living large, and I too wish that there was some way to get these guys to stop asking for odd amounts of money like $6.35. I appreciate Feagler turning his back on the amendment that also allows him to publish by supporting Akron'’s pre-registration before speaking law. I like the courage of a social justice media personality railing against "bums," and boldly declaring that he was proud of using that word. Social Justice Feagler reminds us of the joy of the colorful language of olden days when we labeled individuals with racist language.

By the way, since when did the police start saying, "Be off with you"” to panhandlers? These beggars are destroying Public Square, and the police need to use harsh language with these guys. Congratulations on your award, and keep sticking it to straw men like panhandlers.

Brian Davis

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Some Rough Thoughts

A Few Other Things

Using the Stumble button, I found this extremely bizarre website from 1999, which combines PBS as the host and market research by a bunch of artists to improve panhandlers in New York City. The crack Needcom staff have advice for improving the business of panhandling and a focus group with the panhandlers. They talk about ethics, paying taxes, and giving to non profits vs. giving directly to those in need. There is a ton of stuff on the website that is certainly bookmarked in Feagler's favorites. This is an amazing resource prompted by the harsh tactics of the Giuliani administration in New York. They answer questions about carrying signs to ask for money and exchanging a service like washing windows and the amount of money that a good panhandler can make. My experience is these need to be accepted with a grain of salt in much the same way as fish stories. It is more information than you will ever want to know, and I do not understand why it is still an active site.

Freedom Day & ACLU Closed?
Today is Independence Day and the ACLU, one of the most valuable organizations in the United States at this time, claims to be protecting the Bill of Rights but is closed today. This is the day we celebrate the signing of one of the most important documents in our history. The one that spelled out the creation of an independent democracy, and we need these guys working to preserve our right to vote, to have privacy, and to speak.

On second thought, nothing much is happening today since government is closed, so take the day off, rest, and relax. In fact take the week, because you guys have a big job ahead to close Guantanamo prison, get rid of the Ohio voting poll tax, the death penalty, protecting our freedom to publish, and to peacefully gather to petition our government. Rest today because there is a hurricane brewing to destroy the Bill of Rights and you will need your strength.

NEOCH now listed on
Instead of clicking on Yahoo or Google how about doing your search through
This is a simple way to donate a penny to NEOCH every time you do a search on the web. Just go to and type in your search then put in our agency name--"NEOCH"-- that you would like to donate to and click search. Two steps instead of one, but the money goes to NEOCH. Pretty simple. It is a Yahoo search and it works.

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

Happy Independence (For Some) Day

Reflecting on the Fourth of July And Poverty

I have been wearing my flag shirt all week as a shield to protect against someone throwing a burning flag at me. I hear that flag burning is out of control in this country and we all need some way to stop this desecration of our nation's symbol. Then I thought about the ethics of driving over the speed limit (breaking the law) with a flag shirt on. Is that desecration of the flag? Then I thought of the flag that is flying over the government sanctioned Guantanamo Bay prison Cuba, which nearly every other country in the world considers an abomination against the rule of law. Is that a desecration of the flag? Then I thought about those soldiers in Iraq who were torturing people at Abu Ghraib prison, disguising murders, raping women, and overseeing other atrocities while wearing the flag on their arms. Is that a desecration of the flag? I thought about the flag waving outside of the Texas death house or the one outside of our embassy in Khartoum, Sudan as we watch a genocide unfold, and I wonder. I decided that maybe it was more important to start protecting the founding principles, values, personal liberties, and checks on power that is the basis of America instead of just the symbol of those ideas.

In nearly every city in the United States there are between 15 and 40% of the population that do not feel free today. These are the individuals living with poverty every day. Those living in a homeless shelter today do not feel free to stay out and watch the fireworks. Those living without health care do not feel free to be sick. Those who do not have textbooks in their classes do not feel free to read about freedom riders, the struggle for independence, or the fight to get women the vote. Those who do not have a decent income do not feel free to travel to Philadelphia to see Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell. How do we have the nerve to debate a flag burning amendment when we never even passed the Equal Rights Amendment for women? Anyway, freedom is in the eye of the beholder, and in this country that prides itself on being the best at everything (except soccer and playing nice with others) there are many who feel shackled and therefore do not feel we have the best democracy on the planet.

It is all too confusing so I just stopped thinking and sat and listened to Ray Charles sing America the Beautiful, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash American Series on repeat all day.

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