Rats on Public Square Follow Up Meeting
First, there was a great discussion about the Rats on Public Square at RealNEO for all--check it out. I have seen a number of comments about how bad that story was in the Plain Dealer, and I didn't even catch the rats borough vs. burrow copy editing mistake when I read it. From my experience there were rats nests on the Square, and they were a health hazard. I cannot say whether they had anything to do with homeless people, the lunch crowd or the construction on the Square or all of the above as I am not a rat expert. I do know that the excessive quanities of food and the rats have made life difficult for homeless people, but the reaction from people downtown has also not been helpful. We have seen a great many laws created and directed at homeless people including the curfew, the panhandling law, and now the movement of the food. We have also seen a great deal of hostility toward homeless people with the negative stories and the horrible comments about homeless people in the newspaper and on a few blogs. Things must really be bad if we are blaming homeless people for all the problems of the City.
Also, we did have another meeting between the City and the Food Distributors. We have not had a meeting since October when there was a tense stand off between the two groups, so we were afraid this could go real bad. It actually turned out to be a pretty good meeting. The City got two more groups to agree to the alternate location. This means that every night but Sunday and Wednesday night are taken. The City made an exception for one group, but refused to relent on the Port-o-John issue. We need a bathroom Downtown. This would be a huge step forward if we could get some place where humans could relieve themselves in a dignified manner. We found a place and a group to pay for the Port-o-Johns while we work on a permanent location. The city is absolutely opposed to Port-o-Johns, but agreed to work on finding some permanent alternatives. The City has set a short time frame to find a permanent place for the food providers to feed inside, and has agreed to allow the groups to discuss the options in a subcommittee. Overall, it was a good meeting and we do seem to be making some progress.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.