Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Worst Meeting Ever

No Time For Questions

It seems like the whole country is acting like George W. Bush where up is down and war is peace. I went to the Homeless Book Club meeting, otherwise known as the Office of Homeless Services Advisory, and the director presented an overview of the shelter situation since Aviation High School closed. By the way, this group does not advise anyone. "The surge is working," this last year and the 1999 quote: "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is," said George W. Bush. Ruth Gillett told us all that we are better off now without Aviation. She was comparing overflow shelter with permanent supportive housing and transitional shelter beds created. Beds that do not turn over for six months or six years cannot be compared to beds that are a short term answer to those without housing.

"I just want you to know that, when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace," said George Bush in June of 2002. Gillett said that three new people come into 2100 Lakeside shelter every night, but did not realize that this meant we are witnessing an impending train wreck. I mean if we replace beds that had half the people leave every month with beds in which people do not leave for six months, we have serious problems coming down the line. It was a huge mistake to talk about overflow when talking about opening North Point transitional shelter. They have nothing to do with each other and the County is so focused on North Point that 2100 Lakeside is suffering.

"No President has ever done more for human rights than I have," said George W. Bush. I felt like I was sitting in the meeting with one goal: say something enough times people will actually start to believe it. Gillett said things were all right because in the last 10 days the 60 beds of overflow were sufficient, dismissing the fact that the City Mission was only committed through the end of the month, which would limit us to 30 beds of overflow. She did not address the reality that on one night 25 people waited in a chair for a bed. Gillett did not address the reality that we have always had a slight drop in the shelter census on the first 10 days of the month. Now I understand why no one in the White House Press Room challenges the President. There were so many things wrong with this presentation, it was impossible to pick out where to start. There is never enough time to address all the problems in the homeless community at the Homeless book club meetings.

"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," said George W. Bush after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. The most amazing part of this meeting was Gillett's solution to this problem was to put a Gatekeeper at the Lakeside shelter to divert people from coming into the shelter. This policy, which I am calling the "There is a couch in this community with your name on it" will put people through a long screening process to figure out if there is a better or more appropriate place in Cleveland for the men who show up. It is a good thought, but we still need to address the train wreck coming because we do not have overflow anymore.

We just need a place for those banned from the rest of the shelters to go. We need a place for the sexually based offenders to get out of the cold. We need a place for those recently released from prison to go, because there are no couches in the community for them. We need somewhere that second or third shift workers can sleep. We need a place for those who cannot stand rules to get a cup of coffee. We need a place for the drunk to sober up. Some of these people are not the most desirable or employable, but they are still our brothers and they still need a place to live.

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


CynDe said...

Has Ruth Gillett personally experienced homelessness? What qualifications does she have to hold her position? Certainly not life experience.

Ruth Gillett needs to spend one month living as a homeless woman without money and contact with anyone in her ivory tower.

She also needs a high colonic, a vision exam and a case of Q-Tips.

Having been there and done that am I being too critical?

Cynthia D. Miller

Gary said...

"Club 21" is run by a group of hypocritical do gooders who put ex-cons in charge of clothing distribution (selling and pocketing the cash) which leaves those in true need without.

Rather than rehabilitate people and moving them back into society, men are housed there for years which is insulting to the fact of what they should be doing which is to move the homeless back into society within six to nine months.

The congregation of LM are solely committed to helping the less fortunate but no one knows where they come from. Where are the churches? There is no literature available. They show up once a month with food and a clean pair of socks, hold hands and pray and afterwards disappear into the mist.

If they would assist one percent of the men who go to the shelter, it would be a grand thing but how do the men at the shelter contact them?

Never once have they offered any opportunity for work, a job to let the men regain their self esteem and respect. So in actuality what are they doing but giving a handout rather than feeding the soul.

Many of the men want to work. Job listings aren't posted.

Men of trades are sleeping there but LM has galvanized themselves from the homeless men. Could they be fearful of inviting them to their own homes for yard work, repairs etc. out of fear of having their own throats cut?

Rather than monitoring the front door the back door is what should be watched.

These are just a few of the reasons why I and seven other men left and had our own camp. Every day we went to work without dealing with the hypocracy of 2100 Lakeside.

Gary Waterbeck
Journeyman Carpenter