Monday, May 31, 2010

Drew Carey Entertains City Council

Next Week Carrot Top Unveils a Device that Will Revolutionize Cleveland...
I like Drew Carey, I really do, but to give him a couple of hours before City Council is an insult. It makes us look like we live in a Cow Town. I have a long history with stand up comedy, and Drew Carey was one of the best. I mean, his routine about Cleveland's unofficial motto being "At least it's not Snowing" is hilarious. He also has did a great routine about driving a Yugo among many others. He is no doubt a great comedian, but he is a lousy community leader. In a time in which 29 miners died in West Virginia, 11 oil workers died in the Gulf, and banks destroyed neighborhoods in Cleveland and around the country, how does a person who believes in less government have any credibility?

I watched all the Nick Gillespie/Reason Magazine videos, which contained only a dash of Drew Carey, and felt cheated. Advertising these as Drew Carey videos is like calling Ken Burn's Civil War series the Studs Terkel videos. He was a minor part of the presentation, and these videos had very little value in forwarding civic discussion. I just don't understand how anyone watched them and said, "We need to get this guy to testify before City Council."

They kept bringing up the state of Cleveland sports, and somehow making the connection with the decline of Cleveland. The Browns were perennial contenders in the 1980s, the Indians in the late 1990s, and now the Cavs are regular participants in the playoffs. If this was a valid point all of our teams would be cellar dwellers since the river caught fire. Complaining about high taxes, privatizing schools, and restrictive land use policies are not a solution for anything. They are conservative talking points that have not worked in practice. Our own state has flirted with charter schools and that has resulted in high failure rates among these schools, and for profits making money off of providing education to the next generation. We have had nearly two decades of cutting taxes, and where has that gotten us--two unpaid wars, trillions in debt, and many angry people who are not willing to pay their fair share for living in a democracy. The first combination strip club/pawn shop/payday lender that goes into Gates Mills, Bratenahl, or Avon Lake would be the end of less restrictive land use policies.

I really wanted to hear some good ideas for how to turn around population decline, job losses, and a collapse in the housing market, but was disappointed. There were two good points made during the videos: We wasted millions on playgrounds for the rich with the two stadiums and the arena, and that we need to figure out a way to reduce red tape within government. That being said it is a giant leap to say end the MedMart deal, sell the West Side Market and allow a Walmart to go up where ever they want. We are all-in on the MedMart deal. No matter what we think, we have invested far too much public money to stop this train now. A year after we sell the West Side Market, it will close. It will go the way of every other farmer's market and a Walmart will open in its place. I loved how Gillespie mentioned transparency when talking about how a corporation could run the West Side Market better. I have never thought of WalMart, BP, Exxon, Halliburton, Blackwater, or AIG as especially transparent in their business dealings. This was the most laughable part of the videos. Government can at least be forced to be transparent, but corporations guard their privacy above all else.

I think Michael Symon could offer more help to Cleveland as a local business man than Drew Carey. Libertarian views are great for the classroom discussion at CWRU, but they are impractical and silly in practice. The private sector cannot solve homelessness, poverty, massive job losses, and population declines that currently face the City of Cleveland.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Home or a Jail?

Metal Detectors at the Shelters?

Since the death of the shelter director in February, many of the shelters in Cleveland have moved to increase security. There were many issues associated with the death at the Volunteers of America shelter including discharge plans, the care of those with a mental illness, de-escalation training, conflict resolution, intake process that reveals previous violent encounters with the law, and many more issues. Instead of looking at all of these problems, most of the concern is with security including metal detectors and bag searches.

This is an issue that needs broader discussion within the community. Are the shelters emergency homes for people or are they corrections facilities? Should our main concern be the safety of the staff or making the facility as accommodating as possible so that people are not sleeping on the streets? Have we wasted our money when their is a stabbing at a shelter with metal detectors? There are so many issues, and we need some real discussion about this in the community. We should not have a knee jerk response when we invest in these new technologies when a weapon can be formed out of can of beans in a sock or box cutter or any number of a thousand other items. How would you feel if your landlord put up a metal detector and a bag search at the front door of the apartment building in which everyone entering, including all the tenants, had to have all their items searched every day?

These decisions will have a negative impact on how many people choose to use the shelter system. It could result in more people sleeping on Superior Ave. in Cleveland. It may lull people into a false sense of security, and people who should expect that every person they encounter is armed will let down their guard. It could change the power dynamic within the shelters in which searches are used as another form of punishment. There are many dangers associated with stepped up privacy searches. Before the shelters jump into this movement toward metal detectors, the community of social service providers and homeless people should have a conversation. Alternatives should be discussed, and the consequences of these decisions should be laid on the table. Increasing security does not have to mean comprehensive searches and wand searches. There are cameras, random searches, conflict management, and counseling options that could make the shelters safer, and may in fact be cheaper. It is unfortunate that there is not leadership locally to look at all these issues before we jump into the transition of the shelters into corrections facilities.

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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Housing Cleveland update

The affordable housing website for Cuyahoga County, was funded by stimulus dollars for another three years. It is a real gem for the community, and we wish the state would invest funds to expand this site statewide. It is administered by in North Carolina, and organized locally by 211/First Call for Help and NEOCH. To be honest, the current state of Ohio funded housing website is a huge waste of money. Taxpayers should be up in arms over the horrible waste of money. HousingCleveland is regularly updated (every three weeks) and has a bilingual call center. The Ohio funded housing site is a static website that is rarely updated, and has only a fraction number of units that we have on the Cuyahoga County site.

Here are some stats from the Housing Cleveland site from May 15, 2010:
  • There are 1,360 available listings or 2,026 total units on the Housing Cleveland site with a total of 26,982 total units in the database.
  • 54% of the units are within the City of Cleveland and the rest are spread throughout the county.
  • There have been 2,281 units added to the site since January 2010. This is down from the 3,500 units added in the same period in 2009. We suspect that many people were marketing their houses as apartments because of the foreclosure crisis in 2008-9, but not doing that as much in 2010.
  • There are 1,706 basic searches done everyday from 217 unique users.
  • There were 693,000 searches done by 88,600 unique users done in the last year.
There is also an expanded site in Medina County ( They have 44 searches done every day, and 61 available listings or 166 available units. Housing Medina could benefit from some marketing help, but that is another story.

It is time to make Socialserve the sole provider in Ohio for a housing website. It is a wonderful non-profit that is surprisingly affordable.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Community Development Policy Forum

Housing Policy and Community Development

Monday, June 7, 2010
4:00-6:00 p.m.

Cleveland State University

Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

Glickman-Miller Hall

1717 Euclid Ave

Cleveland, OH 44115

Book Talk and Panel Discussion
in partnership with The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland with David J. Erickson, author of The Housing Policy Revolution: Networks and Neighborhoods and director of the Center for Community Development Investments at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. He also edits the Federal Reserve journal Community Development Investment Review.

Erickson's new book traces the shift in U.S. housing policy from the 1960's-era, federally funded programs to today's collaborative networks of community developers, advocates, local governments, bankers, and property developers, supported by federal tax credits and block grants. Through historical analysis and detailed case studies, he reveals a system that adjusted to a changing political climate and innovated in the delivery of affordable housing.

The response panel of local housing and community development professionals will discuss the impact of this policy shift on the availability and affordability of housing for low-income families and individuals in Northeast Ohio.

Response Panel:
Moderator: Kathryn W. Hexter, Director, Center for Community Planning and Development and Levin College Forum
Kate Monter Durban
, Assistant Director, Cleveland Housing Network
John O. Anoliefo, Executive Director, Famicos Foundation
W. Dennis Keating, Professor and Distinguished Scholar, Director, Master of Urban Planning, Design & Development Program

Free and open to the public.
Registration requested at Forum or call 216.523.7330

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Homeless Hate Crimes Bill Re-Introduced in Ohio

After Cincinnati Attacks, Ohio House Introduces Stronger Penalties

With the multiple attacks these last few months in Cincinnati, the State of Ohio has responded by introducing a bill that would allow prosecutors to increase the penalty for an attack or intimidation of people based on their lack of housing should the attacker be convicted. This is similar to the hate crimes laws in Ohio, and we hope will provide some deterrent to future attacks on those resistant to shelter. This is an extremely vulnerable population that lives without a door or a lock or the security that the rest of the population enjoy. And to have skinheads and young people go out hunting for homeless people justifies the state coming down with tough punishments on these individuals.

As Introduced

128th General Assembly

Regular Session


H. B. No. 509

Representatives Murray, Foley

Cosponsors: Representatives Sears, Pillich, Hagan, Walter, Harris, Heard, Williams, B., Domenick, Skindell, Winburn, Fende, Gerberry, Harwood


To enact section 2927.121 of the Revised Code to create the offense of intimidation of a homeless person.


Section 1. That section 2927.121 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:

Sec. 2927.121. (A) As used in this section, "homeless person" means either of the following:

(1) An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;

(2) An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that meets any of the following criteria:

(a) A supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations;

(b) An institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized;

(c) A public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

(B) No person shall violate section 2903.04, 2903.041, 2903.05, 2903.11, 2903.12, 2903.13, 2903.14, 2903.21, 2903.211, 2903.22, 2903.31, 2905.01, 2905.02, 2905.03, 2905.11, 2905.12, 2907.01, 2907.03, 2907.05, 2907.06, 2909.01, 2909.02, 2909.03, 2909.05, 2909.06, 2909.07, 2911.02, 2913.01, 2913.02, or 2917.01 of the Revised Code if the offender commits the violation with the intent to cause harm to any victim of the violation because that victim is a homeless person.

(C) Whoever violates this section is guilty of intimidation of a homeless person. Intimidation of a homeless person is an offense of the next higher degree than the offense the commission of which is a necessary element of intimidation of a homeless person.

We need to get other members to support this legislation and hold a hearing in Columbus on this bill. We will keep you informed.

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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Arthur Price Sr Passes

Hard Working Vendor Joins Wife

We have had to put the Grapevine on hold while we fund raise, and get our own house in order. Arthur Price Sr. was a vendor of the Grapevine for years outside of the West Side Market. He saw many in his family die of cancer including his own mother. He wanted to stay busy so he started selling the paper in his 70s. I guess that he saw a number of relatives retire, and then pass on quickly. Arthur was determined to stay active, and sold the Grapevine through his latest illness in 2009. He passed away last week and his memorial service was Saturday.

Arthur was a stern and gruff old guy similar to many men born in the 1920s. He was hard on many people, but he was a good salesman. He loved working for the Grapevine, and he told me every few weeks that the Grapevine saved his life. He said that it forced him to get up and go outside. He had a purpose and that was to sell papers. He loved meeting people at the Market and loved interacting with the other vendors, the customers, and the WSM workers. Behind his rough exterior, the one soft spot was for his wife. Just as Bernadette Janes described in the 2006 article in the Homeless Grapevine newspaper, Arthur loved his wife, Clarabelle. She passed away in January, and this made it difficult for Arthur. He had moved to hospice care, and could not move around for the last four months.

The family asked the Chaplin from the Hospice Care Center to conduct the service. This was unusual since she had only four months of interaction with Arthur to pull together the ceremony. It worked really well in that she was not deeply emotionally attached to Mr. Price, and had sat with him and talked about what he wanted in the service. So she presented the facts that Arthur wanted to pass on to all of us. She talked about the Grapevine, his family and the love for his wife. She thanked the people that Arthur wanted thanked, and she mentioned that there were a few fragile people within the family that Arthur wanted to make sure were taken care of. The Chaplin was clear that Arthur had joined his wife, and was at peace at this point. It was a very nice service that Cathy, one of our other vendors, attended on behalf of the Homeless Grapevine.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Support A Reduction in Family Homelessness

Dear Friend of the Coalition:

Honor your Parents for the Holidays

The fastest growing subpopulation of homeless people in America is families, which typically means a Mother and one to two children. Imagine your own mother having to spend time in a homeless shelter. Imagine trying to figure out how to maintain a job, your child’s schooling, and search for housing while staying in the shelter. It is a miracle if a Mom and a Dad can stay together during a period of homelessness in Cleveland, and please realize that it is extremely difficult to find a shelter bed for a Dad with his children.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless is working every day to preserve affordable housing opportunities, expand job opportunities and eliminate civil rights barriers that confront homeless people. We make every effort to work with the City and County and the social service community to reduce the time a family spends homeless in Cleveland. In our recently published State of Homelessness Report we found that:

  • The school district reported a 17% increase in children experiencing homelessness in the last year.
  • First Call for Help reported a 82% increase in requests for food pantry assistance since 2006.
  • The Domestic Violence Center reports a 8% increase in families served between 2008 and 2009.

Today, we introduce an effort to honor the mothers and fathers in our community while improving the services to those families that become homeless. We are asking for your support in an effort to create a Family Street Card directed at parents facing either foreclosure or are danger of becoming homeless. In exchange for a $35 donation, we will post a message on our website honoring a mother or father that you feel deserve to be recognized. We need $2,500 to prepare this Family Street Card, print the card and begin to distribute this one page easy to use resource for families struggling in our community. Currently, we print an East Cleveland Street Card, a general Street Card, and a Veteran’s Street Card. With the explosion in family homelessness over the last four years, and the decline in the number of shelter beds for families over the same period, now more than ever we need a resource to distribute to those families struggling with their housing.

For every donation that we receive, we will memorialize on our website the parent or loved one who worked to raise a child and deserves some public recognition. We will also send a thank you note either to that individual or directly to you for your support of social justice and of families who are struggling with housing. Your tax-deductible donation will allow us to create a new resource for families and at the same time honor the parent in your community who influenced you or demonstrated exemplary behavior in teaching the next generation.

To support this project, you can return the enclosed form or go to our website and donate online. Either click on the “Reduce Family Homelessness” button on the front page of our website or go directly to in order to donate. Mark your donation with the phrase “Family Homelessness” in the purpose line. We can send a card to you to recognize your donation or we can send the card directly to your parent or the individual that you want honored, and we will also post a message on our website honoring a parent in our community.

Please help us create a new resource for families and support the Homeless Coalition. As you prepare for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, take a minute to acknowledge someone who has had a tremendous impact on your life.

To donate go to and click on Family Homelessness!

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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Homelessness Around the United States

Local Reports April 2010

National Coalition for the Homeless Met in DC this last Week


Significant growth in homelessness within the State. They are working on a Tenant Bill of Rights in Minnesota— it would cap late fees, require receipts provided by landlord, and guidelines for screening tenants. Applications for an apartment would have to be provided an apartment in the order they were received. Denied for a subjective reason, the tenant would get any fee back. The state is facing massive cuts in emergency assistance.

Miami Florida

Sex offenders going into hotels after the encampment under a freeway overpass was fenced off. Miami held as a model city in the Continuum of Care, but there are issues with budget cuts and expanding populations. Florida house passed the homeless hate crimes legislation. Looks good for passage in the Florida Senate.

Ft. Lauderdale

HPRP not doing well, and much is going to moderate incomes. State has cut homeless funding. Broward cut 50% of their services due to the downturn. Several large shelters have closed. Transitional shelters have had to close. Cut beds, services and hours to deal with budget cuts. Proposal to continue to criminalize homelessness in Ft. Lauderdale and Oakland Park will fine people who give food and money to homeless people. Increasing number of homeless and decreasing number of beds. No programs for the long term homeless. Alternatives to incarceration coalition established to try to reduce prison stays and long term punishments and mandatory minimums. Florida has a huge problem with one of the worst rates of incarceration in the United States.


Continued budget cuts and HPRP has supplanted local dollars, and so there are more shelters and services closing locally. The state is defunding shelters, and more attempts to make it illegal to be homeless. Poor use of the HPRP funds for smaller groups especially in the rural communities.

Puerto Rico:

They do a poor job in receiving funding from the United States federal government. Worst managed HOME program in the United States, which has opened the door to greater scrutiny. Feeling threatened over HEARTH act, and attempts by local planning groups that could block grant of all those federal dollars. Have not been able to open an affordable housing project because of local bureaucracies, and while the buildings are done they have not been able to move in and now have become targets for vandalism. New protocol on how homeless people are served in the courts. There is a law that gives the rights to people who find themselves homeless, but it is ignored in the local community. Census told the population that they had to have an address to work for the Census.

Atlanta, GA

Shelter facing foreclosure is in court, and proving that you can operate without funding. Residents of the shelter do a lot more to operate the facility. 99.9% of staff are still hanging around without funds. Local grassroots organizations excluded from Neighborhood Stabilization and HPRP. There is some danger of losing the Foreclosure money (Neighborhood stabilization), which would go back to the Federal government. Massive demolition of public housing, 50% cut to public transportation, and privatization of the last public hospital..


Catholic Church not going to close the shelter over the DC gay marriage issue. Big cuts that resulted in decrease in the number of shelter beds. They have closed the winter shelters for the spring/summer/fall. Family homelessness is increasing. Incidents at the shelters have increased including a death where an individual was turned away and died of exposure on a bench outside of the shelter. They have seen an increase in the incidents between shelters and staff because of the budget cuts.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Coalition is still on life support. Talked to the Mayor of Little Rock, because of city being named one of the meanest cities. Paid homeless coordinator in Little Rock to help. Another Little Rock About 1% of the population is homeless in the state of Arkansas. shelter closed because of a lack of funds.

South Carolina

State does not have any state dollars for homelessness—all dollars are pass through from the federal government. State initiative to require homeless veteran’s a preference over all other populations for a shelter bed and first for services. This did not pass. Defeated an initiative to be able to evict tenants within 15 days without going to court. Magistrate could appear without the tenant and get rid of the tenant. Four police officers arrested for Civil Rights violations in Greenville They have pled out after an investigation by the FBI. State HPRP is not being spent. At the local level it is being allocated at a good pace. Homeless awareness is increasing because of the NCH VISTA program educating the community. One City Administrator in Greenville has indicated a willingness to talk about ending homelessness. This is unusual for a public official in South Carolina. over the beating of a homeless person.


No more Montana Council for the Homeless by the Governor, and they may switch to become a private non-profit. Statewide HPRP going to the usual suspects. It is given out, but difficult to find in some communities. Information has spread and made a run on many of the programs.

Baltimore, MD

Mayoral transition difficult after the Mayor was forced to resign. She was very good for homeless people despite the scandal. The United Way initiative to end homelessness and continue the 10 year plan is still on track. All HPRP went through the United Way to administer the funds. Money is going out in large numbers.

South Dakota

Major issues in trying to distribute HPRP and lots of complaints with state for changing guidelines periodically. No state money going into local homeless services. Safe home program --32 long term homeless units is the cornerstone of the City’s project and they have now walked away from the program. No local dollars in Souix Falls from City. The City has established a zero tolerance for kids in the shelter to try to get them back into housing quickly. Indian reservations are the hardest hit.

Sacramento, California.

Massive deficit and massive proposed cuts. Hate crimes legislation introduced. Massive cuts to human services at the local level, and huge Continuum of Care cuts. Advocates want a safe ground to organize themselves with temporary structures while they search for housing. They won the lawsuit—got $250,000 to buy back tents and stuff after the police came in and destroyed their camps. Advocates have also registered hundreds of people and did a candidate forum focused on housing and homelessness. Training in May over HEARTH planning for the future. State HPRP is not going out very quickly. Better at the local level and trying to link the employment programs. Religious community organizations are trying to match HPRP funds in Sacramento. Director of Hunger and Homeless Program now including re-entry stuff into their work.


Sustained a huge budget cut for Health Care for the Homeless fund in order to fill gaps in the state budget. Cut the general assistance funds to single adults. After protests state government had to reverse the GA cuts and they never went into effect. Also advocates convinced them to reinstate the $2 million of the $3 million cuts to Health care for the Homeless. HPRP is given to the state Coalition and there is a match from TANF families. Some agencies are getting the funds out, but others are struggling. No ability to do training. Started construction on a 98 units of affordable housing that will include a work component in which they get homeless people to do the labor on the project then get first preference. Took over the HMIS system, and assure that privacy protections are in place. Colorado Springs has the homeless computer system is contracted to the local sheriff to manage. The State Coalition has told them to stop this or they will no longer have access to the management system or the funds that goes with it. Down the road the health care reform bill that just passed Congress will help our constituents including the leveraging of Medicare resources.

Taken from notes at the National Coalition for the Homeless Board meeting this past weekend April 2010 by Brian Davis

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