Thursday, March 08, 2007

Family Forum Reflection

Women Gather to Plead for More Attention

The Family Homeless Forum was not as well attended as we had hoped, but it was a wonderful forum with a four women doing a great presentation about their experiences. We prepared a good overview of family homelessness locally that will be on the website shortly. We intend to send the report to every elected official, foundation, and major religious institution in the area. Family homelessness is on the rise with 9,000 individuals from families who experience homelessness every year. Nearly one third of the total number of children in the Ohio school system who were homeless came from the Cleveland Public Schools last year. And the situation for families is only getting worse.

Federal policy has turned away from family homelessness, and this has caused great instability within the family shelters. Two of the 12 family shelters in the community are on the rocks and in danger of closing, and the waiting list for families getting into subsidized housing is 3-5 years. Michelle talked about how she had to wait for help because she did not have a drug problem and was not disabled. We heard from one woman about the lack of facilities for both Moms and Dads to stay together in the same shelter. One woman talked about having to make the decision to go back to an abuser, because she could not find any housing after a felony conviction. Sabrina talked about the horrible experiences within the shelters, and the fact that she had no where to turn for help.

The experience of homelessness is rough enough without prolonging that stay with silly and incorrect policies. In the past, we did everything, as a society, in our power to make sure that kids were protected from the most extreme forms of poverty. It seems that there are so many families suffering that we have just given up. We need local leadership to step forward, roll up their sleeves and begin to build more housing to keep families together.

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

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