Saturday, June 16, 2007

Food Fights on Public Square

Where do we Feed Homeless People?

We had a meeting on Tuesday with the City of Cleveland to discuss the feeding of homeless people on Public Square. One interesting comment was that the two groups engaged in this activity include progressives like Food Not Bombs and Evangelicals don't agree on much except that they do not want government to tell them what to do. The problem is that there are so many people who want to deliver food to homeless people and most use Public Square as the staging area. The issue is that there is no coordination, not enough trash receptacles, and not enough bathrooms. Now, we have witnessed church groups fighting with each other over the space.

We need coordination of the feeding so that we have one or two churches per night. We need a place in doors to serve homeless people. This is why those residents of the tents were staying near the Square. They needed to be near the place where food is served. The City is concerned and has reopened discussions about food service downtown. This planning started under the previous administration, but went no where. We will see how this effort proceeds, but it started out well with the Mayor's Chief of Staff attending the meeting.

We really need a building in which homeless people can gather that has running water and bathrooms. We need a place that churches and others can come and serve food with a set schedule so that every night is covered. We need a place on the East Side that serves dinner for all those who choose not to use the shelters. Ralph Delaney would go Downtown to deliver food and water to homeless people in the 1990s before he was beaten to death. His dream was to see the creation of a 24 hour drop in center for homeless people. I would love to see a place for homeless people inside so that they can eat and rest with a measure of dignity.

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

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