Saturday, November 29, 2008

Upcoming Events for the Coalition

A Few Upcoming Events
NEOCH Membership Renewal

Look for our annual membership renewal form in the mail over the next week. We need you to renew your membership, because we are only as strong as our membership. You can renew your membership from our website under About Us/Join NEOCH. It is a few easy, quick steps.

Health Care Report Released December 11, 2008

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless surveyed 320 homeless people about their experiences with the health care system over the last month. We will release the results of the survey including homeless people’s experiences with dental and mental health care; the length of wait in the emergency rooms; and which facilities they use most. We asked people about how chronic health conditions led to their homelessness, and can provide demographic information. Please join us as we release this report and hear from a few homeless people who will put a face on this issue. We will release the report on December 11 at 6 p.m. at Trinity Cathedral at East 22nd and Euclid Ave.

Woodchopper’s Ball December 13

The NEOCH newsletter incorrectly stated that the Woodchopper’s ball was the first Saturday in December. It turns out that it is in fact December 13 at the Kent Stage in Ken Ohio. This is an annual fundraiser of the Coalition organized by guitarist Brian Henke. The musical line up and ticket information can be viewed at or calling 330/677-5005. If you enjoy good music, we hope that you can attend.

Homeless Memorial Day Set for December 21, 2008

For the past 22 years, NEOCH has hosted the Candlelight Vigil to remember those who passed away over the last year. Sunday December 21, 2008 marks National Homeless Memorial Day as well as the start of winter, and we will mark the day at St. Augustine in Tremont. The Vigil will feature the reading of the names of those who passed away and we will hear remarks from one elected official at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday December 21. All are welcome to join us after St. Augustine’s lunch at 2486 West 14th St.


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

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Great Scene Magazine Article

Photo by Cheryl Jones, NEOCH/Grapevine Photo artist. All rights reserved.

Turn Over the Homes to Homeless People

I did not have time to blog about Michael Gill's article in last week's Scene Magazine. At every gathering of homeless people, the topic of the number of vacant and abandoned houses in the community comes up. The number of abandoned units has grown steadily since 1995, and exploded in 2004 to the present. Now as Michael Gill points out there are three times as many abandoned units in just the city of Cleveland, and that does not include the surrounding suburbs. East Cleveland probably has 40% of their units in serious disrepair, and Cleveland Hts. has seen over 1,500 foreclosures in the last two years. But there are abandoned houses throughout the County. This demonstrates the need for a County Land Bank (click here for the discussion on WCPN on Monday). An urban homesteading program will not solve this problem, but it cannot hurt to try it.

So, in responding to the concerns of the Homeless Congress and their strong desire to try something to pair skilled homeless people (electricians, plumbers, drywallers, and painters) with some of the recent houses that were vacated due to foreclosure. The Congress wanted to put some of these houses before they are stripped clean back into use. We did not ask for a large amount of money, and we just want to see if this could work. We have heard the cautions, and we heard the failures of previous homesteading programs, but we feel that it can't hurt to try. At this point with so many vacant houses, we cannot afford not to try as many solutions as possible. We need the land bank; we need the County Trust Fund; we the proper amount of destruction and rehab; we need an urban homesteading program; and we need a development of parks or urban farming programs to use the land vacated by the foreclosure crisis. It is angering to sleep in the shelter every night while a few door down there is an intact building sitting empty in the shadow of wealth everywhere.

Thanks to Michael Gill who spent a lot of time on this story and interviewed a bunch of homeless people.

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

Appeals Court Strikes Down Our Victory

Some Voters in Jeopardy of Disenfranchisement

The U.S. Appeals Court in a surprising reversal of Judge Marbley's decision sent the provisional ballot case back to the Ohio Supreme Court. As the Dispatch article points out, this was decided by two Bush appointed judges and one Carter era appeals court judge. I do not understand why politics has paid such a large role in how we vote in Ohio. I also do not understand how the court could decide that our settlement with the State is ignored because two voters file a separate lawsuit in a different venue. Our case is exactly on point, and our settlement should be respected and honored. We fought this case for two years, and the case belongs in the federal courts because the Help America Vote Act established the provisional ballots in 2002. Here is the text from the 2002 Law:
Provisional Voting Requirements.--If an individual
declares thatsuch individual is a registered voter
in the jurisdiction in which the individual desires
to vote and that the individual is eligible to vote
in an election for Federal office, but the name of
the individual does not appear on the official list
of eligible voters for the polling place or an election
official asserts that the individual is not eligible to
vote, such individual shall be permitted to cast a
provisional ballot...

If the appropriate State or local election official
to whom the ballot or voter information is transmitted
under paragraph (3) determines that the individual is
eligible under State law to vote, the individual's
provisional ballot shall be counted as a vote in
that election in accordance with State law.
Since a federal law established provisional voting, it would make sense that the federal court can order how those votes are uniformly counted.

Here is Jennifer Brunner's statement from her website about this case:
"This litigation has already delayed the final certification of the November election. It is our hope that the Ohio Supreme Court will quickly affirm their previous clear guidance “to liberally construe election laws in favor of the right to vote,” so as not to disenfranchise approximately 1,000 Ohio voters with a hyper-technical interpretation of Ohio law."
Now, I do not know who is doing press for Brunner, but did they have to use the word "liberal" when referring to how the notoriously conservative Ohio Supreme Court should order the counting of provisional ballots. Couldn't they have used a better word? Is she just trying to bait them? I too hope that every voter is counted, but I would not say the word "liberal" or "liberally construe election law" in my sound byte. She needs a new press person.

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

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sign of the Times

Hard Times

Photo by Cheryl Jones. For prints contact NEOCH.

Times are tough!!

To demonstrate how bad things are here are two pieces of bad news from the homeless community. St. Paul's Shrine at Euclid and E. 40th served their last Sunday meal today. They have served every Sunday for years from 1:30 to 3 p.m. with a nice hot lunch. All that came to an end today, when we need it most.

The other news was that the Ohio Welfare Conference was canceled for this year. Agencies and individuals just did not have the money to travel. In a time when the welfare safety net is needed most, the organizers have canceled the annual get together. Ohio going back 40 years was always the most enlightened in advocacy around welfare, but things are so bad the advocates can't even afford to get together to compare notes on improving services.

Those 2.5 million jobs Obama announced on his weekly video need to be concentrated exclusively in Ohio and Michigan and we still would not be out of the woods. NEOCH will release our state of homelessness in January 2009. It is going to be depressing.

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

Rumor Has It....

Republicans Will Crash Brunner's Election Party

This is not confirmed yet, but rumors have it that Republicans will hold a Senate hearing on their proposed changes to election law on the same day that Secretary of State had invited election experts down to talk about reform of Ohio Election Law. I have heard that in this lame duck session, the Republicans are going to host a hearing on December 2 to talk about their proposal to "reform" Ohio election law. This is the exact day that Brunner called her "election summit" to work out a plan for improvement for 2009. Now, NEOCH did not get invited to the Brunner summit. I guess she does not like being sued, ignoring our calls for a settlement and then losing in court. We will certainly be at the Republican hearing to tell them that their proposed legislation is not only disenfranchising, but illegal. They crafted legislation in 2006, and did not listen to activists who said that the law would not work. Then they sued because they did not like the law that they passed on their own. Now, they are back at the table proposing laws that will easily be challenged. Will they ever learn? I hope Strickland vetoes this desperate power grab.

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

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Judge Rules to Keep NEOCH Agreement in Place!!

Judge Algenon Marbley ruled on Friday against the two Republican challengers who sued to overturn the NEOCH settlement with the State of Ohio in the voting ID case. The federal judge made a few changes, but ordered the provisional ballots counted even if there was poll worker error. In dispute is a U.S. Congressional race in Central Ohio and two State House races, and how the provisional ballots in those races will be counted. NEOCH temporarily settled the case against Secretary of State Brunner and the state of Ohio before the election providing two directives backed by the court to standardize the counting of provisional ballots in all 88 counties. In the District 15 race between Republican Steve Stivers and Mary Jo Kilroy, the Democrat, there are only 500 votes separating the two with over 27,000 provisional ballots to count. The Republican voters, who sued after the election, do not want the 1,000 provisional ballots counted in which the poll worker did not complete the outside envelope correctly.

The only down side is that the Judge put off the counting until November 28 (the day after Thanksgiving) to start counting in order to give time to the U.S. Court of Appeals to rule. I am sure that the Appeals Court justices will love to rule on this case after a great Thanksgiving dinner. We trust the court to rule for allowing legitimate voters to cast a ballot. Imagine waiting in a long line at the drive-thru window at Wendy's, and you finally get up to the front of the line to put in your order. Then you drive around to the pay window, and they tell you, "Sorry, you will get no food today, because our order clerk took your order wrong." This is what the Republican operatives are asking for except in the most important thing a citizen is entrusted with: voting for president of the United States. "You did nothing wrong, but the person who took your ballot screwed up, and so you are out of luck for four years. Have a great day, and come again."

What judge in their right mind would side with people trying to disenfranchise voters? We shall see.

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

Monday, November 17, 2008

Voting Case Update II

Judge Keeps the Case in Federal Court

Federal Judge Algenon Marbley ruled this morning that he would maintain jurisdiction over the provisional ballot case filed by Republicans down in Columbus regarding the US Representative District 15 race (Stivers vs. Kilroy). The case involves our settlement of a case with Secretary of State Brunner and the uniform counting of provisional ballots. Judge Marbley has decided to keep the case in his court to avoid lawyers "venue shopping." This is a victory for Ohio voters. The bizarre aspect of this case, as we described in many posts over the last year, is that the Republican legislature babysat Brunner's office throughout this case. They were involved in the settlement, and if they had a concern should have raised it before we signed this agreement. Why are they standing on the side of disenfranchising legitimate voters who tried to cast a ballot, but were let down by the poll worker? The Republican legislature wrote the law on provisional ballots. They supervised the NEOCH vs. Brunner case for two years, and a Republican Taft drafted the original rules for homeless participation in voting when he was Secretary of State. We trust that this case will quickly be settled, and every legitimate voter can have their voted counted.

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

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Where is the Plain Dealer?

Updates on Voting Case

The Columbus Dispatch, my least favorite paper, has had stories three days of this last week about the provisional ballot court case against Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. Saturday's story is here, and Fridays story is here. This is an important story about how to count provisional ballots in Ohio, but we have not seen any stories in the Plain Dealer in the last two weeks. Why not? The judge in the case will decide if the case stays in Federal court or goes back to the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday morning. The case could decide the winner of the 15th Congressional district to the House of Representatives in Columbus. Out of the 26,000 provisional ballots there are nearly 1,000 that apparently had some kind of poll worker error and could be disqualified. It seems like an important story for Ohio.

Plus, the Columbus Dispatch has stopped using the Coalition's name in their coverage of this court case referring to us as a Cleveland homeless advocacy coalition. We were stripped of our name in the Columbus paper. Please Plain Dealer editors, write about this story so that NEOCH can get its name back.

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

Friday, November 14, 2008

Republicans Challenge NEOCH Settlement

Brunner Settlement Made Before Election Under Scrutiny

As we discussed back in October, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, temporarily settled the voter ID lawsuit. We could not reach agreement on the ID provision for election day because of time, but we got a directive to count the provisional ballots in a way that is fair and consistent with the law across the entire state. We signed a settlement that was certified by the court to have uniform standards for counting the provisional ballots in all 88 counties. Now that there is a close race between Stivers and Kilroy in Central Ohio for the U.S. Representative in District 15 the Republicans are claiming that there is a problem with our settlement. The Republican who currently leads by 400 votes has objected to the settlement agreement for how to count provisional votes.

The new lawsuit asks the Court to reopen this settlement and two voters have filed suit to overturn the Brunner issued settlement as well as her first directive. They are trying to eliminate provisional ballots in which the poll worker did not follow the proper procedure. So, in other words, the voter did everything that they were supposed to do, but for whatever reason their name did not appear in the poll book. The local board of elections certifies them to be a legitimate voter having voted in the correct precinct. The Board determines that they were who they said they were when the voter signed the provisional ballot. The voter filled out everything correctly on the provisional ballot, but because the poll worker did not sign or date the ballot those filing suit want the voter stripped of their vote. Through no fault of their own, but because an overworked elderly individual who only is employed for this one day by the County makes a mistake, the Republicans want to have the voter denied the ability to participate in the democratic process. Is that fair? Is that really what the Republican party has become?

We will keep you informed as the judges and lawyers work this out. I hope that the judges side with Ohio voters and give every legitimate voter the chance to cast a ballot.

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This is Why it is Worth Coming to Work

Helping a Guy Sleeping on the Street

Working with homeless people is one of the toughest jobs in the community. And every shelter and food provider needs to be complimented. This is not to say some workers do a better job than others, and there are a few who need to find other jobs. It is rough to have to see the worst problems in our society and the impact of homelessness on innocent children, seniors, family members, and veterans. NEOCH staff are not direct service providers, and so we are one step removed from the tragedy as well as the triumph. We spend a great deal of time on the infrastructure, the community-wide problems, reports, and coordinating services. Every so often, we get to see a life transformed. Yesterday, was one of those days.

We coordinate the outreach workers in the City. So, if a councilman or police officer or just a member of the neighborhood calls us, we can send out an outreach worker to help someone sleeping outside. There are thousands resistant to staying in a shelter in our community, but we have a great safety net set up to serve those living outside. Sunday night a concerned neighbor on the Near West Side of Cleveland sent us an e-mail saying that there was a guy with one leg sleeping behind a building. The concerned citizen had offered food and comfort, but realized this guy needed a lot more and was in danger of dying this winter. He sent us the e-mail, and it turned out that this guy was "lost" in the homeless system. Having someone identify where he was turned out to be a big help. The outreach workers at Care Alliance got him into a nursing home yesterday. He slept in a warm bed last night and will get the level of care he needs. It was a good day to come to work yesterday.

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

Upcoming Senate Session Advocacy

We Do Not Support Pseudo-Hearth Act--Drop S. 1518 until 2009

On October 2, the House passed the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH Act), which re-writes the portion of the McKinney-Vento Act that governs HUD's homeless assistance grant programs. The original HEARTH Act had the support of many homeless advocacy groups, and was introduced by the late Rep. Julia Carson of Indiana. However, the version of the bill just passed by the House is a compromise version of the legislation reached behind closed doors and passed with only 34 minutes of debate on the House floor. It is an almost unrecognizable version of the bill that was introduced, and we would like it dropped by the Senate. We would like the Senate and House to take up a new bill that has the support of a new administration early next year. Although there are many areas of improvement over the current McKinney-Vento legislation, such as key protections for homeless children and youth, NEOCH has several areas of concern. This legislation currently awaits action by the Senate in the form of S. 1518. We urge you to call Senator Sherrod Brown to encourage the Senate to hold this law until 2009. We do not support the current compromise legislation. Some of the biggest problems include:

The New Definition of Homelessness is Overly Complicated and Contains Some Arbitrary Timeframes and Provisions that Will Exclude Individuals and Families in Need: The bill expands the definition of homelessness and is an improvement over current law and practice. However, the new definition would be very complicated to administer at the local level, which might result in many families that need homeless assistance being found ineligible. It also arbitrarily excludes many persons and families in urgent need of assistance (ex. a family living in a motel but which has enough funds to stay at the motel for over 14 days), which limits flexibility for communities seeking to respond to the economic and foreclosure crisis with help to families becoming homeless. People at the local level should be given a larger role to determine eligibility for services based on need.

The Bill Places a Definition of Long Term Homeless into Law. The bill uses the offensive term “chronic homeless”, and while it expands the definition to include families we do not believe it is necessary. We should not segment the population and provide additional assistance to those based on the length of time they have spent homeless. Every homeless person needs help and our goal should be to end homelessness for everyone we come in contact.

The Bill Requires Every Group Receiving Federal Dollars to Submit Personal Data About Their Clients to a Central Database. The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless does not support forcing shelters to have to submit personal data about their clients to a central database. We do not support the unfunded mandate, because of the privacy concerns of homeless people. We also have seen this data used to inaccurately reflect the total number of homeless people in a city, and we fear that it will be used as the basis for distribution of the federal funding.

The Bill Must Balance Homelessness Prevention with Needed Services for People Who Are Already Homeless: The bill increases the flexibility with which communities can use funds from the re-named Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program, which is a positive development. However, the bill does not set any minimum required amount for communities to spend on emergency shelters, meaning that communities could choose to eliminate emergency shelter in favor of spending all of their grant money on homelessness prevention. Although an end to homelessness is our ultimate goal, in reality there will be individuals and families who will need emergency shelter. Also, the bill sets aside a higher percentage of overall funds for the ESG program, which means less money for the main McKinney-Vento program to assist people who are already homeless. Therefore, the McKinney-Vento appropriations must be increased to ensure that we are sufficiently funding both homelessness prevention and services for people who are already homeless.

Mandatory Set-Asides Should be Removed: The House bill maintains the current requirement that 30% of funds to go to permanent housing for individuals with disabilities or families with a disabled head of household, and adds a 10% required set-aside for permanent housing for homeless families with children. Although the goals of these set-asides, to ensure permanent housing for individuals and families in need, are to be commended, this is the wrong approach because it severely limits communities’ flexibility in responding to homelessness. For example, it would inhibit the ability of a locality that funds transitional housing or innovative programs to be more cost effective than permanent housing or that already has permanent housing resources to use the funds in the way best suited for the particular community.

We Need You To: We ask that you call Senator Sherrod Brown’s office 202/224-2315 asking him to hold this bill until the 2009 Congress and the new Administration. For more specific information, contact NEOCH at (216) 432-0540. Please call us if you get any feedback from the Senator’s office. A full analysis of the bill and comparison to existing law can be found at the website of the National Policy and Advocacy Council on Homelessness. The full text of the bill passed by the House can be found with the highlighted link.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pay Day Lenders Flee Ohio

Don't Let the Door Hit You....

Cashland announced that they were leaving Ohio after the passage of Issue 5. Good Riddance!! It is a long time coming, and please take the rest of the payday lenders with you. Who let these guys into Ohio in the first place? Why did we reform the usury laws to let these agents of poverty into Ohio? The state is a lot better off without payday lenders. It is a credit to Ohio voters to punish these charlatans for their deceptive campaign to trick us into allowing them to continue to rip people off. It is time for Ohio leaders and Congress to reform the banking laws so that we do not need payday lenders. We need to lower the bank fees, and bring some justice to the banking industry. We need to make sure that banks are not robbing people on a daily basis, but are serving the community.

Don't mourn for the payday lenders. They built an industry on greed and exploitation, and now they have to leave. We don't need businesses that push people into a lifetime debt. Back in 1999, the Grapevine did a feature about how check cashing stores seem to open next to bars. The article asked the question: why are these poverty centers setting up shop right next to bars? The check cashing outlets grew faster than the bars, but it was an interesting partnership in the beginning.

Next up for regulation: Businesses that rent furniture, recycling centers, pawn shops, plasma/blood banks, and the Ohio Lottery.

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

A Good Day for Voting

Shelters and Board of Elections Did a Great Job

The Homeless Coalition with one volunteer, John, spent election day driving people to their precinct to vote. We went to East Cleveland, Euclid, Maple Heights, and Cleveland and had no problems. It is time to give out a few awards. First, John the Lawyer (no friend to Joe the Plumber by the way), gave up his day to drive homeless people all over the county. The second award goes to the Board of Elections who did a great job preparing and staffing this election here locally. We were extremely critical of the Cuyahoga Board of Elections for the 2004 and the 2006 elections, but there were no major problems with this election. The staff were prepared, and during the first week of voting everything went smoothly. Election day saw no major problems, and the staff were helpful. In 2006, I nearly got arrested because the staff were not trained sufficiently; they were understaffed; and they were not willing to listen that they were making mistakes. In 2008, the polling places were ready to go on time and staff knew what to do, and were pleasant. At the main office, they were ready for early voting and seemed to have enough staff and workers. It was rough on the weekends, but that was a problem with having only one polling place available for early voting. It might be a good idea to use the convocation center or the Higgbees building or the Medical Mart or some other large complex in 2012 for the Obama vs. Palin race.

The shelters of Cleveland also should get a gold star. Every one of the shelters made an effort to get everyone to vote. Cleveland is one of the only cities in the United States that requires the publicly funded shelters to offer registration/change of address to every person entering. This is thanks to the County Office of Homeless Services who have also asked that every shelter record how many people voted. On November 4, there were very few left who had not already voted. The staff at the shelters did a great job, and I am sure that homeless turnout in Cuyahoga County surpassed the 64% voter participation nationally in this last election. Of special recognition, the Salvation Army Harbor Light Complex helped 160 people to vote early. The Y-Haven program made sure that most of their clients voted in this election, and many also worked at the polling place on November 4. 2100 Lakeside had one staff person assigned to help with registrations and to get people to vote. The new North Point Transitional Shelter made sure that everyone in the place was registered, and the few that did not vote early walked down the street to Bohn Tower to vote. Thanks to all the shelters for working to keep homeless people engaged in the democratic process. We will collect the numbers and release those later this month.

One big criticism goes out to the Ohio State legislature for putting in place horrible rules for voting. There are so many things in the law that are confusing, stupid, useless, and backward. The whole system needs to be redesigned. We need a blue ribbon commission appointed to reform voting in Ohio, and put some dollars into improving this system. The ID provision is worthless and basically a poll tax (since ID is not free and takes months to obtain). The precinct based system does not reflect the needs to current voters, and the entire registration system is antiquated. Please change the voting laws this next year.

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

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Challenging Voters

Republican Lawyer Challenged One of Our Voters

We have spent the day driving homeless people to their polling place. There are not many left who have not voted, but we have a couple of dozen that we have taken. One of the voters was challenged by a Republican lawyer, because he did not have a current identification. The voter was in the poll book, but had lost his identification. I know that it is legal to challenge voters, but it just seems like such a bullying tactic. I mean the guy is homeless living in a shelter, and had his identification stolen. He is working on putting his life back together and some Republican lawyer in an inner city polling place attempts to disenfranchise this guy. It seems desperate and an extreme form of harassment tactic for someone to do this to an American citizen down on his luck.

Also, the Republican party went to court today to challenge our settlement last week with Jennifer Brunner over the counting of provisional ballots. They drew a conservative judge, and so our case is probably not settled as we had thought. We have a signed settlement with the other side, so I do not understand why the court is even hearing this case. Details to follow.

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


Put Down your Computer and Go Vote!!

It is election day. All the hard work is over. Put down your computer and go help two or three people get out and vote. You can help transport homeless people through NEOCH or just call a few family members and make sure they voted. Everyone must participate. GO VOTE!!!

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

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Good City Club Debate

So Much Deception from the "No" on Ohio Issue 5 Campaign

I thought Bill Faith of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio did a good job in laying out the reasons Ohioans need to vote yes on Issue 5 at the City Club debate on Friday. I was surprised that a son of the civil rights movement, Niger Innis, was supporting this initiative. Mr. Innis is a conservative and son of Roy Innis, a libertarian campaign manager for Alan Keyes with a history in the Congress on Racial Equality. The bottom line is that a yes vote will bring down the fees paid by consumers to take out a short term loan. Why are the "No on Issue 6" campaign advertising so dishonest? The pitch that this will cost Ohio 5,000 or 7,000 jobs was a loser so they switched to move the debate on the privacy concerns of a database. I thought Bill Faith did a good job in pointing out that the database issue was not even on the ballot. If it is such a horrible idea to put this information in a state monitored database, why did they not put it in the ballot language? It is hard to run on a platform that if we reduce your interest rates there will be 5,000 fewer people in the state assisting in the breaking your financial kneecaps. NEOCH and most social justice groups support a yes vote on issue 5 to bring down the current highway robbery rates in payday lending industry.

It is the only rational vote to vote yes on Issue 5 to keep down the interest rates, and that is why nearly every elected official is urging a yes vote. When have we had all five living Ohio governors, all the leaders in the Ohio legislature, and every major newspaper in Ohio all on the same page? It is clear choice to vote Yes on Issue 5.

One word of caution on Issue 5. The real problems with this legislation that got very little attention is what happens on the day after the rates come down and the payday lenders leave? There needs to be bank regulations to limit the fees they charge poor people and regulate banks so that they return to the inner cities. Who is going to lend to poor people if there are no payday lenders? Are we going to return to the loan shark using ex-boxers or semi automatic weapons to enforce lending regulations? Will we long for the days of 391% interest from a payday lender? The state and federal legislature need to reign in the banks and pass a borrowers/bank patrons bill of rights. The CRA needs expanded to protect poor people from these alternative lending institutions. Also, I predict that based on the payday lending and their deceptive campaign they will try everything they can to stay in business. I feel like with all the money they have made in Ohio, we will have to go to court to finally kill this industry.

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