Bad Economic Times=Cuts for the Shelters
FOR THOSE ALREADY DEPRESSED BY THE CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, DO NOT READ THIS! SKIP THIS--GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! When the numbers of homeless people are at an all time high, the services most in need are being cut. The three big shelters in Cleveland each received a 5% cut from the County. Community Voice Mail increased their fees for the agencies by 800% this year, this means that many agencies must drop or significantly curtail the service. Cleveland Furniture Bank (formerly St. Vincent DePaul) is no longer giving out clothing vouchers to poor people. A few shelters are cutting their hours or dropping prepared food, or limiting items that they give out. NEOCH had to cut our staff from 7.75 staff in 2007 to 2.75 in 2009. We had to layoff our Community Organizer at the beginning of the year, and give away two of our programs. A few of the staff from the shelters or outreach workers are cutting back on staff hours in order to make the budget. The money for rental assistance to prevent evictions for families was eliminated, and it does not look like the County will be able to replace those funds in 2009. Foundations are cutting back and suggesting that the agencies consolidate or merge to save money. The shelters and services are suffering, but all these cuts hurt real people suffering the most because of poverty.
In the end, it will be harder to get some help with rent. It will be harder to pay for birth certificates and bus tickets will be scarce. Access to clothing is going to become an issue, and it will be harder to track down a relative who has become homeless. Moms will have a more difficult time keeping their families together because shelter stays will increase thus making the wait time for a quality shelter bed significantly longer. Waiting lists will grow across the community, and this will test the patience of those requesting help along with those offering the assistance. There will be more people sleeping in abandoned buildings or cars, and more people showing up looking for a hot meal in Cuyahoga County. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is going to be a rough 2009 for homeless people. I will try to collect some positive stories at the 2009 Stand Down on Friday at the convention center to cheer up our loyal readers. Stay tuned and don't get too depressed.
Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.