Sunday, September 16, 2007


What is Happening at the Homeless Coalition?
We have been busy trying to put together a plan for the NEOCH Board on the future of the Coalition over this last week. The Board must decide this week on what the Coalition will look like in 2008. They will decide on which programs will be part of the Coalition family and which will we try to relocate to other programs. The Coalition will be smaller, but in the end we will do more around advocacy and public education. We will be stronger and will work toward a solution to homelessness in Cuyahoga County.

A few of us got to hear the depressing report on the state of foreclosure and Fair Housing in Cuyahoga County at the Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting. Jeff Dillman from Housing Research talked about the state of affordable housing report and the large number of disability related complaints that their group receives every year (around 36% of all complaints). Disability complaints have now surpassed racial complaints (34% of the total complaints). Mark Siefert of ESOP talked about the huge volume of foreclosures coming in the near future. He said that it is bad now, but it will get worse when the volume of Adjustable Rate Mortgages reset beginning in October and lasting through next year. Siefert was critical of state and local government for allowing this situation to get so out of control, and ESOP is trying to get workout agreements with banks and mortgage companies for the homeowners facing foreclosure. Next CAHA meeting: October 1, 2007 is Lt. Governor Lee Fisher at 1:30 p.m. at 1350 Euclid Ave.

NEOCH staff had meetings with potential sponsors of some of our programs and met with the NEOCH Board executive committee to talk about the future. I talked to the police about the impending enforcement of the curfew on Public Square, and the relocation of the tent city. Yes, after being humiliated by a few media outlets and tormented by drivers getting on the freeway, the tent city guys decided to move. They will be a lot better off where they relocated.

The Office of Homeless Services "Advisory" Board met this morning. This is one of the greatest missed opportunities in our community. All the right people are at the table (public housing, shelters, service providers, foundations, city, county, and researchers), but the group has never done much to solve homelessness. NEOCH helped create this group back in the early 1990s with the thought that it would take the lead in eliminating homelessness locally. It has done very little over the last fifteen years, and has never flexed its political muscle in the community to demand changes. It is a good discussion group for those who like talking about homelessness, but not so good for forwarding solutions to homelessness. We did find out that the strip club inside of North Point may not close when they open the transitional shelter in the motel. This potentially could be the only shelter in the United States with an attached strip club. Only in Cleveland...

Met with Captain Sadie about problems in the third district and Public Square. He is a nice guy who has a lot of sympathy for homeless people from his work at Jacobs Field. The Captain is getting a lot of heat from his superiors and the business community over the behavior of homeless people and panhandlers downtown. I firmly believe that law enforcement should never be involved in distribution of services to those who are resistant to shelter, and my meeting with the Captain only reinforces this belief. The police are also concerned with the number of religious groups downtown distributing food with Public Square torn up and with only two quadrants left. I also talked to one of the guys living outside who said that there were about dozen people still sleeping on the Square. All are aware of the impending deadline for enforcement of the curfew (October 1), and a number of them need help with mental health issues.

Met with the NEOCH staff again to talk about the plans for the next year, and sent the plan out to the full board. While we are working on the future of NEOCH, we still had to answer e-mails, telephone calls, and calls of inquiry. At least once a week someone will call or e-mail asking how to open a shelter. We strongly recommend not opening a shelter since two local shelters have already gone out of business in Cleveland and three are teetering on the edge. Unless a person has a great deal of wealth and can fund a shelter strictly from individual donations, they should not think about opening a shelter. Government and foundations do not have the money for shelters anymore.

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

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