Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cincinnati Coalition Files Suit

They Do Some Crazy Stuff in Cincy

We have been trying to convince the City of Cleveland to pass a law that would regulate the shelters. I guess sometimes you have to watch what you wish for, because you may get it. The City of Cincinnati passed an updated shelter standards bill and placed a bunch of Easter eggs in the legislation. They included in the bill a requirement that every shelter receiving public money must discourage panhandling among their clients. So, the shelters are expected to dissuade their residents from engaging in a perfectly legal activity. They must report to the City every year how they "discouraged panhandling." All of the other issues in the world that the shelters should be counseling their clients against like drugs, prostitution, and even state sponsored gambling, and the City picks out the legal practice of panhandling for special scrutiny.

The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless is suing the city over this ridiculous policy. The City has also taken the oversight of the shelters away from the Coalition and given it to the group that distributes the federal funds locally. The City claims that it is premature to file suit since it is not sure that the policy will become law.
"City Solicitor John Curp said the lawsuit is premature because council's approval of the rules does not mean they will be implemented by city administrators. He said his office must review council's recommendations to determine whether they are constitutional." according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
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Women Still Do Not Have Access to Showers

Cleveland can afford a stadium that is only used 10 times a year, and yet we can't afford a building to provide showers to 50 to 70 women?

NEOCH Board Members Invite City Chief of Public Affairs and the County Director of Homeless Services to Sleep in the Shelter They Fund

Press Release Issued by NEOCH 6/26/2010

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Board of Trustees are inviting Cleveland’s Chief of Public Affairs Natoya Walker-Minor and the Cuyahoga County’s Director of Homeless Services Ruth Gillett to spend at least two nights at the Community Women’s Shelter. The invitation is in response to the city and county officials moving homeless women to a temporary site with only one shower while their regular facility is undergoing renovations for six months. Board members are worried about the spread of infectious diseases due to lack of shower and hygiene problems in the hot summer months. “We have concerns about accessibility issues for those women with a disability sleeping in the shower this summer,” said Rosie Palfy who is leading the advocacy of the NEOCH Board on this issue. The invitation is an attempt to show the deplorable living conditions at the temporary site of the Community Women’s shelter with a hope of prompting a change. The site violates the Ohio Basic Emergency Shelter Standards as well as multiple building code regulations.

On May 3rd, residents of the Community Women’s Shelter moved to their current temporary facility on 1701 Payne Ave. and Walker was quoted in the Plain Dealer indicating “City and County officials spent years planning the renovation and looking for temporary sites.” In an e-mail to the Coalition after a tour of the temporary women’s shelter, Walker said, “While it is inconvenient for the women to walk less than 300 feet to a shower, it is doable.” The chosen site was without showers, forcing women to walk around the block to the nearby Cosgrove Center limited to only two hours a day or the inaccessible North Point Men’s Transitional Shelter to shower on the next block. The board is concerned that the limited shower schedule could interfere with women looking for housing and jobs.

The NEOCH Board is concerned that the message delivered to the women is that our county has enough money to build a medical mart, renovate the baseball stadium, and buy an asbestos building on East 9th and Euclid, but we do not have the money to house women in a safe, decent place while they struggle with their housing. According to CWS and City and County officials, installing showers at the new location was not cost effective, and there are no other buildings that they could find to house the women.

Residents have complained and filed grievances to NEOCH citing lack of proper facilities and expressing concern over feminine hygiene issues. More than 70 women are currently living at CWS and advocates are not satisfied with the current conditions. The NEOCH board is calling on city and county officials to live in the shelter for two nights to see if the current situation is “inconvenient” or intolerable. NEOCH is asking for city leaders to develop a better solution for our most fragile population under the care of the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. We asked for a response by Tuesday June 29, 2010. Many of these women are disabled and have mobility challenges, and they need regular access to a shower.

Contacts: Rosie Palfy and Marcia Bufford on behalf of NEOCH
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Friday, June 25, 2010

ACLU Brown Bag Lunch

Join NEOCH at the ACLU Lunch in Two Weeks

2010 American Civil Liberties Union Brown Bag Lecture Series
You bring your lunch. We’ll bring the experts.

Homeless, Not Hopeless:
The homeless community’s fight for fair treatment

July 7, 2010 on Wednesday | Noon - 1:00 p.m.
Max Wohl Civil Liberties Center
4506 Chester Ave., Cleveland 44103

Far too often municipalities enact unconstitutional ordinances that criminalize homeless people and greatly restrict their access to public space.

Join us for a discussion of the homeless community’s fight for equality with Brian Davis, executive director of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and advocate for the estimated 26,000 homeless in the Cleveland area.

This program is part of the Brown Bag Lecture Series. Lectures will be held throughout the summer on Wednesdays from noon – 1 pm at the Max Wohl Civil Liberties Center, 4506 Chester Ave., Cleveland.

This event is free and open to the public. Free parking is available. Drinks and desserts will be provided. To RSVP, call (216) 472-2200 or click the RSVP button.

Save the date for our statewide membership conference!
July 30 - 31, Columbus.
Get more information at

Join the ACLU and help strengthen our freedoms. Already a member? Click here to find out what else you can do to restore our rights.

Stand up! Get active! Make some noise! Our new website has all the tools you need to restore lost liberty.

From an e-announcement from the ACLU

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Meal Program in East Cleveland

Divine Outreach to Serve Once Per Month

After the article appeared in the Plain Dealer regarding the lack of food providers within the city limits of East Cleveland, a number of church groups stepped forward to offer volunteers and food to help out. Divine Outreach Ministry would like everyone to know that they will be serving a meal on the fourth Friday of the Month at Windermere Living Hope Church. The meal will be from 4 to 6 pm. at 14035 Euclid Ave. in the beautiful Windermere Living Hope Church. This will add a fourth night of food being served out of this historic church. The first meal for Divine Outreach Ministry in East Cleveland is Friday June 25.

Divine Outreach currently does the meal behind the Mental Health Services Building at East 18th and Payne Ave. in Downtown Cleveland on the Second Saturday of the month. They have a long history of working with homeless people as the lead organization providing food at the Homeless Stand Down. If you have questions or want to help volunteer or provide additional donations, you can call Dorothy at 216/355-6953.

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Monday, June 07, 2010

A Home Has Showers

County Relocates Women to Shelter Without Adequate Showers for Summer

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless calls on all taxpayers of Cuyahoga County to refrain from showering this summer unless you go next door to your neighbor's at a scheduled time. NEOCH is asking for this drastic action to show support for the women forced to live in a shelter without the proper number of showers. When the publicly-funded Community Women’s Shelter was closed for renovations last month, City and County officials relocated the 52 women to a facility that did not have a working shower. Because of budgetary concerns and Not-In-My-Backyard issues, the City and County allowed the shelter to relocate for the next six to nine months to 1701 Payne Avenue, a facility that only this week installed “one shower for emergency uses only.”

Between the hours of 9 and 11 a.m. weekdays, the 50 homeless women can go outside and walk next door to the Bishop Cosgrove Center to take a shower. At other times the women are forced to walk to a nearby men's transitional shelter, escorted by staff, to use one available shower on the second floor of a men’s residential floor. Those with mobility issues must figure out how to take care of their hygiene needs using a sink, because the transitional shelter 1550 Superior Avenue facility is not handicapped accessible.

The Board of NEOCH has received numerous complaints from women living in the shelter regarding this matter. Many women said that they have had to resort to washing themselves in the sinks because they could not make it to Cosgrove during those two hours. Residents are concerned this unsanitary practice will put them at risk for contracting infectious diseases. “The City and County selected this location knowing it didn’t have showers,” said Rosie Palfy, a NEOCH board member. “The women were told on numerous occasions showers would be installed before they moved, but it never happened because they said it was too expensive.”

"Women in the care of Cuyahoga County who are incarcerated at the jails have access to daily showers on-site. The Men’s shelters have access to showers. Even the animals in the custody of Cuyahoga County at the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo have better access to showers. Why are homeless women being denied the ability at the facility in which they live?" asked Marcia Bufford, NEOCH board president. "We find this move an unconscionable disservice to the women at the shelter who have no regular access to showers on site."

The members of the Board of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) oppose the move of the Community Women’s Shelter, even on a temporary basis, to a facility without the appropriate number of showers on-site. The facility is administered by Mental Services for Homeless People, a $15.5 million non-profit organization largely funded by government support. We ask:

  • the City and County to enforce the Ohio Basic Shelter Standards
  • install showers in the facility or move the women somewhere that does have showers on-site immediately.
  • the Cleveland Health Department enforce basic health and safety standards for a residential facility.

In support of homeless women and any children who become homeless this summer, the NEOCH Board asks that Cuyahoga County tax payers stop using their own showers and instead schedule a two-hour window in which they can go to their neighbor’s house and use their shower.

Contacts for this issue:
Marcia Bufford and Rosie Palfy
NEOCH Board members
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