Homelessness: Do We Have the Will to End it?
We had a great fund raiser at Massimo da Milano on Friday night. I think that it was the best event of the last six years. We had a great street poet who stole the show. He was living in an abandoned house, but worked every day. He said that he was angry when he wrote the poem about how people act around poor people. The poem will appear in the next Homeless Grapevine, and the poet got to sit at the table with the Mayor for the evening. George Lockhart III said that he was angry and sent in a poem, and then he is eating dinner with the Mayor. The photo exhibit was great with every one of the images sold at the auction. Three out of the four photographers were present at the event. This was part of a disability grant to teach homeless people photography and then have their work displayed and sold.
The keynote speaker of "Partnering to End Homelessness" was Mayor Frank G. Jackson. He actually talked for longer than I have heard in the past. He gave a good overview of poverty in the city referencing some of the surprising statistics with regard to homelessness. The Mayor mentioned the 35 to 40% of the population who work, and the fact that one third of the homeless children in Ohio come from the Cleveland Municipal School District. He talked about the reality that 72% of the homeless population are African American. After setting the table for the crowd, he presented the appetizer with the statement, "There is a lot of money in misery in Cleveland."
The main course for the evening was Frank asking the crowd if there was the will out there to end homelessness? He told us that he was absolutely sure that we had the ability to solve homelessness. Mayor Jackson went through all the great services, programs and opportunities that exist, but he was not sure that we had the will. His focus over the next few years for addressing the problem will be in three areas: housing and the preservation of housing, employment and jobs, and his most important priority--education. Jackson talked about each of these priorities and the places that he plans to spend his time. It is a tall order, but we have someone heading up the ship who is at least talking about the issues (a big change from the past).
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.