Sunday, August 26, 2007

Slim Media Attention to Poverty Walk

Poverty Demonstration/March Well Attended

Stop Targeting Ohio's Poor's demonstration on Thursday had about 35 activists in attendence including NEOCH, Jobs with Justice, Empowerment Center, United Clevelanders for Peace and Against Poverty, Poor People's Economic Forum, Organize Ohio, and George Zeller from the Center for Community Solutions all attended the walk. It was global warming hot for the couple of dozen people who met outside of the Welfare Building. This was the third annual commemoration of the Martin Luther King Jr. poverty walk from the 1960s and to remember the 11th Anniversary of the federal welfare reform and 10 years since the state passed their version of the law. Unfortunately, only the Plain Dealer (no story yet) and the Homeless Grapevine showed up to cover the event. The group needs to practice their chants to generate more attention or bring in some theater groups.

Here is what we learned or questions that were raised at the walk:
  • What is happening to the $300 million surplus held in the welfare rainy day account down in Columbus?
  • Jobs with Justice raised the issue of the need for a County Living Wage.
  • A woman from the Public Housing asked that day care be expanded to assist more low income working families.
  • Tim from May Dugan said that we need to meet on a more regular basis to keep all the groups working on a common agenda.
  • One member raised the issue of how much the United States has spent on a war in Iraq, and all that could have been addressed the housing, health care, and education problems in our country.
  • This march is 40 years after the MLK march, and things are much worse for poor people at this time.
  • There was a reference to the insecurity in families as well as the insecurity in our own infrastructure including the loss of one of our American cities in New Orleans.
  • George Zeller made the point that real incomes had decreased across Cuyahoga county. This recession has effected everyone of us and every suburb. We keep losing jobs and real income is decreasing in every city but Chagrin Falls. George is always good for showing how bad the economy is in Northeast Ohio.
I had the opportunity to talk and pointed out the dramatic decrease in support for poor people over the last 10 years. We have more homeless, evictions, foreclosures, and people without health care. I raised the question of what is going on with the Department of Human Services? Why are they not helping to forward solutions to poverty and growing insecurity especially after Cleveland was named poorest city in the United States twice? They have eliminated so many people from the welfare roles, and we have to wonder what are all those employees doing now who previously gave out money? We need their help, ideas, leadership, and their funding. Finally, I talked about the meeting with the Governor's wife on Monday, and how I was struck by the recurring theme of never being able to pay all the bills. The formerly homeless families said just when they were reaching some level of stability with a job the human services department cuts off their childcare or Medicare, or cash assistance. This often plunges them back into the shelters or eviction court.

This was a well attended demonstration for the middle of the weekday on a hot day. We have to thank Valerie and Stewart Robinson for staging this demonstration every year. On Tuesday, the Census numbers come out again. While these figures are far from accurate in comparing very different cities, they do give a basis for comparing how we are doing in addressing poverty locally. I hear that if they are at all accurate, Cleveland will be poorer then they were last year.

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

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