Monday, August 30, 2010

More Reasons to Support the ACLU

Homelessness Discussion Available On-Line

Earlier this year, we promoted an event at the American Civil Liberties Union on homelessness. I was privileged to be invited to speak to a surprising large crowd for the middle of the day about homelessness and the 20 years of legal work that we have undertaken to protect the rights of homeless people. It was another good event by one of the premier civil rights groups in the United States. Because of the work of Chris Link, Ray Vasvari, Kevin O'Neill, Gary Daniels, Joan Englund, Gino Scarselli, James Levin, Jason Jaffery, and Carrie Davis (no relation), the ACLU has always been a tremendous partner to protect the rights of very low income and homeless people in Cleveland and Ohio. They have posted the video from the talk on their website here.

There were a number of very good questions from the crowd, and I talked about the long history of working to protect the civil rights of homeless people. Because of NEOCH and the ACLU working together, things are better for homeless people compared to other areas of the country. For example, Cleveland is one of the few communities in the United States with a signed agreement between the police/city and the Coalition that prevents the police from arresting or threatening arrest for purely innocent behavior of sitting, sleeping or standing on the sidewalk. This reduces the number of homeless people who end up in jail for being poor, and reduces conflict between homeless people and city officials. If you want more information go watch the video. Also, make sure you support the ACLU because some group in our community should have the job of protecting and preserving the Bill of Rights and not just paying lip service to "protecting the Constitution."

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Street Cards Published

All Street Cards Updated and Posted

Thanks to MetroHealth Hospital for printing the 2010 version of the Street Card. It is out now, and available on the NEOCH website. We are working to distribute them throughout the system. This is the eighteenth year of updating the Street Card in Cleveland. Every year one of the hospital systems agrees to printing the card. We distribute 10,000 to schools, libraries, police stations and social service providers. Many print the Street Card directly from our website. This is the most popular page of our website by far, and people are free to download the Street Card and make copies and distribute themselves. For those who are not aware the Street Card is a free resource guide for those in need of help. It lists all the services available in the community that a person can access directly from the streets (no referral necessary). It lists only weekly food sites. New this year is some help with obtaining identification. I saw a section on ID on one of the street cards from another city in the United States and decided that we need something similar. If you are visiting a store with some fraudulent women holding a street card asking for a donation, don't be fooled. They are scammers. Don't give them money.

A few months back, NEOCH announced that we were creating a special Street Card to serve families. Thanks to the internship of CWRU student, Joe Baum, we were able to publish this Street Card last week. We were seeking donations to help with this project, and about 20 people responded. Thanks also to the Dominion Foundation who saw this project and stepped forward to get it done. They are helping with the printing and the distribution of this Family Street Card. It is available on our website here. The Family Street Card is tailored more to homeless children and their parents. It lists childcare options, foreclosure assistance, and contacts at local school districts for families struggling with housing. We will begin to distribute the Family Street Card throughout the community this fall.

In addition, both the Veterans Street Card and the East Cleveland Street Card were updated and are available on our website. For case workers who work with these individuals, these are invaluable resources. Please feel free to download any or all of these Street Cards and distribute them to people in need.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Limitations on Health Care

A Grand Experiment: Limiting Detox to Once Per Year

The newly united Alcohol and Drug Addictions Board and the Mental Health Board took a huge hit by the state in the last round of budget cuts. The ADAMHS Board decided that they would work on limiting costs by only paying for one stay in detoxification for narcotics and other drugs per calendar year. Even if you leave a day after beginning detox, you cannot return for 12 months. Beginning October 1, 2010, the Board will pay for detox services only once per 12 months unless the women in need is pregnant or the individual is in active or impending alcohol withdraw. They held a public meeting last week to talk about these issues and a few activists and practitioners attended. Sounds boring, I know. I have to say in listening to all the statistics and the rationale, this all seems like some big experiment without a lot of proof that this will work. I was not even sure what the goals were for this program after listening to the staff of the ADAMHS board.

The Board was not looking for comment or public scrutiny. They were just asking to explain why they were taking these actions. ADAMHS Board Director William Denihan could not make it, but Dr. Christina M. Delos Reyes was able to provide some passion to defending and explaining the policy. Charlotee Still Noble, ADAMHS Board chair was also in attendance, but she did not say much. It must be noted that the policy was introduced earlier this year, and was criticized by many so they went back and revised it to not include pregnant women and those attempting to rid themselves of alcohol. The main defense was that they are trying to better meet the needs in the community, because of the long waiting lists that exist now. They are trying to better integrate the treatment programs with the detox programs so that people leave detox and get priority within the treatment programs. Dr. Delos Reyes talked about the budget cuts, and specifically the disparity that exists in how the medical system deals with alcohol and drug issues compared to other health care issues. This was an important point that she championed and should be shouted in the halls of the state capital.

The statistics provided by the board were not very convincing, and said to me that the Board does not do a very good job of understanding the full landscape of alcohol and drug services. They presented only the numbers from detox services that were reimbursed by the board, which I do not believe is a fair reflection of the need in the community. There are plenty of other programs, hospitals, and places that do not get reimbursed but provide medical detox. How many "frequent fliers" go through multiple detox sessions, but only one was paid for by the County? We also do not know how long people are in fact waiting for detox. Are they finding a waiting list at one of the three programs that are reimbursed by the County ADAMHS Board, and so they go somewhere else (like the emergency room)?

Then when pressed by those attending the meeting, it was found that the board has no ability to gather these other statistics. This means we do not know how this new policy will impact our community. We do not know if this will increase the number of people using the emergency room. We do not know if this will increase alcohol related deaths or even if this will increase the amount of care that the other providers must pay for out of their own pockets. It seemed to me that this was a rationing of health care, based on a small amount of data without any attempt to figure out the impact that this will have on the community. They could have rallied the community against tax cuts, a change in state budget priorities, or a focus on public policy instead of just corruption scandals. Instead we were treated to anecdotes and platitudes like, "This is not about waiting lists; this is about make the services available."

Stella Maris detox program staff claimed that they spent $209,000 in uncompensated care in 2009 and $59,000 in uncompensated care in 2008. I have to believe that this new policy will only push more uncompensated care onto community organizations like Stella Maris or the Salvation Army because it is so difficult to turn people away from detox. This is the first step into the treatment program, and so groups understand that they do not want to turn people away from this first step out of fear that they will never see them again. I applaud Dr.
Delos Reyes comments about treating these addiction issues as we treat every other health care problem with emergency care and a "do no harm mentality" as a guiding principle. Too often decisions within behavioral health are made based on economics and not what is in the best interest of the individual. Too often behavioral health problems are addressed with "consequences" for misbehavior by the addicted individual. I have never heard of discharging a patient being treated for diabetes/high sugar levels in the hospital because they had a friend bring in a milkshake. Relapse with a drink while in treatment and they will send you on your way without hesitation.

While some communities are passing special taxes on beer and wine distributors in order to pay for treatment on demand, we are going the opposite way in Cuyahoga County. The brave new world of rationing detox is upon us.


PS: I hate this photograph and the message contained on it, but it is a perfect example for why we need detox. This is why we doctored the photo to discourage people from copying it and using it as negative propaganda against homeless people. The composition of the photo by Cheryl Jones is very good, but the message is horrible. I mean begging for money is offensive, but then publicly admitting that you have a drinking problem is even worse. I have talked to Nate, the subject in the photo, about this but he thinks humor brings in the bucks. It just seems like to me a black guy doing a minstrel show for pedestrians downtown and asking for some dollars in exchange for making himself look like a fool. It is highly offensive, but the message delivered by the ADAMHS Board in rationing health care is just as troubling.

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

People That Make Things Work 4

Linda Stamm--Identification Collaborative

It is such a routine and easy undertaking that most of us take for granted. It is something that we do every couple of years, and besides the long lines it is usually just an inconvenience to renew your driver's license. For a homeless person obtaining identification is difficult, and in a post 9/11 world it is often impossible. In Ohio, you cannot even exercise your fundamental right as a citizen to vote in person without identification. It all starts with the birth certificate as the primary document to get all the other pieces of identification. There are a hundred different ways to get a birth certificate, but some states make it impossible to order a birth certificate by mail. There is the thorny issue of what address to use if you have no fixed residence. In Cleveland, to get a birth certificate you have to go to City Hall, but that requires showing identification to get into the office of vital statistics to get the birth certificate. To prove who you were actually born, you have to enter this Monty Python type routine with the security guard at City Hall asking to see your identification; you respond that you are there to get identification, and there is this stand off at the front door.

Anyway, identification can cost between $15 and $120, but in many cases it is the ticket to housing or a job or treatment or release from parole. It is often the last thing that people secure when they first become homeless, and it is one of the first items stolen. For those born on a military base or in New York City or Indiana or Puerto Rico, it takes a very long time and it is a very difficult process to order your birth certificate by mail. This all has to do with stepped up security after the attacks on September 11, and local and state budget shortfalls that resulted in large scale increases in fees. In Cleveland, we developed a unique partnership with many of the homeless social service providers. Linda Stamm of the West Side Catholic Center has been a vital part of this for the last few years, and is moving on in the next few weeks.

NEOCH assigned a VISTA to this project about five years ago, and he was able to coordinate this service for the year he was here. Then West Side Catholic took over the project, and the Plain Dealer did a feature on the problems that homeless people had with identification. They showed how other cities had funded identification programs, and Cleveland was behind in providing this opportunity. We also have to give credit to Eileen from St. Colman's for getting everyone together in the beginning and pushing this forward. St. Colman's was the original fiscal agent for the project. The big step forward that Jerry Skoch provided at West Side Catholic was to not only fund a program that provides resources to those without identification to purchase a birth certificate or state id or both, but also providing a staff position to do advocacy around obtaining ID. Often the importance of advocacy in setting up these programs is forgotten. There are huge issues that Linda was able to help us work through. She raised flags to the community when the state was raising the price of identification. She tried to convince the state that they should help with the cost of obtaining identification for very low income people as other states do. Linda helped us with the voting lawsuit that we filed to allow the votes of homeless people to count when they voted and did not have ID. She helped with negotiations over the loss of licenses because of debt issues, the specific rules for people coming out of incarceration and obtaining id, and clarifying residency rules at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

This has been an excellent collaboration, and is the envy of other cities in Ohio. Just having a notebook on the rules for all 50 states for how to obtain a birth certificate is a wonderful resource. Linda put this together and updates it regularly. We have to applaud West Side Catholic for their willingness to assign staff/volunteers to this important collaboration. We have to thank the local foundations and City of Cleveland for funding this collaboration over the last few years. And we owe a debt of gratitude to Linda Stamm for organizing all of this. Good luck.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

The People Who Make Things Work 3

Pat Clifford during happier times as the Drop Inn Center Marked 30 Years of service in 2008.

Pat Clifford Cincinnati Homeless Advocate
Unlike Earl Pike who seems to have parted amicably with the AIDS Task Force, we know that Pat Clifford was unceremoniously dumped by the Drop Inn Center in Cincinnati. This is the shelter that buddy gray started by taking over a building after years of fighting with the City to do something about the rising number of homeless people. Clifford was again another of the deep thinkers in our society who make our government work. As we have demonstrated many times in this blog, Cincinnati is one of the most messed up cities when it comes to homeless policies. They never have ended the war between public officials and homeless people. They are still fighting over space, viability, and NIMBY issues going on 40 years now. These problems date back to the founding of the shelter and the protests that buddy raised. I talked to officials from the Cincinnati Coalition and they see this as a new attempt to sweep out "the old guard" and finally get the shelter to relocate.

buddy's shelter is one of the few large shelters in the United States that serves both men and women at night. They have struggled with all the problems that all of America's homeless facilities have to face. Just a month ago a woman overdosed in the bathroom at the shelter. They fought with the City over the winter to be able to house a homeless man who was dying of pneumonia, but was a sexually based offender and could not find housing anywhere in the city. Also, last month in Cincinnati a police officer recklessly drove off the path in a public park and killed a homeless woman sleeping under her blankets by driving over her while she was sleeping during the day. The only reason to drive over someone's belongings is to show homeless people that the police are in charge of the park. This typifies the on-going battle taking place in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood between developers/police and low income people and their advocates.

Pat was a protege of buddy. He was the director of the Cincinnati Coalition when buddy was shot and killed in the shelter in 1996. Clifford studied homelessness and the best way to house those struggling with poverty. He looked at shelter models throughout the country. He tried to make the housing of last resort the best it could be for everyone coming to their doors at night. Clifford was the Obama of the Cincinnati homeless population. He worked closely with homeless people for years and was their advocate and then was thrust into the job of director of the largest social service provider serving homeless people. He had to make nice with the City, the United Way, funders, and sometimes he had to hold his tongue when he saw how the city policies that harmed homeless people. Clifford, as director or landlord to homeless people, was criticized by some advocates for what was perceived as harsh policies toward homeless people in much the same way as Obama is criticized by the liberals for compromising. Clifford never compromised when it came to attacks on the shelter; acting as caretaker to the buddy gray legacy. He balked at teaching homeless people about the dangers of the legal activity of panhandling as part of the yearly shelter allocation of funds. He was unwilling to relocate the facility to some far away hidden location without new money on the table in order to please the powers in Cincinnati who have rediscovered the 40 year neglected Over The Rhine neighborhood.

It is rough running a shelter, and it is difficult to keep the idealism that inspires young people to want to solve the problem of homelessness when working in a shelter. There are some homeless people who, in order to feel safe, want to strip searches of everyone that walks in the door--civil liberties be damned. There are some homeless people who because of their mental condition make life impossible for everyone around them, and the shelter director has to figure out a way to love everyone looking for help. There are some who are unwilling to take advice from anyone, and give up good housing options to live in the shelters. The majority of homeless people just want to leave as fast as possible, but they are often lost because of the sheer numbers looking for help each with their own crisis or multiple layers of problems that caused them to lose their housing.

On the first day of working in a shelter it is often the case that you are the leading advocate for privacy rights, decriminalization of quality of life ordinances, and a strong belief in government. Most get into the job because they want to provide a hand up to those who struggling in our society, and they can see that they are making a difference for people. Every single day of seeing people destroying themselves with drugs and alcohol and making horrible decisions for themselves a shelter worker must check themselves and recommit to core beliefs or they get lost. It is so easy to become bitter and angry with the population, and disgusted with government to the point that you become part of the problem. I met with Pat in March, and he did not seem burnt out or frustrated with his constituency. In my opinion, Clifford was able to walk this tight rope of providing a home to people struggling without becoming the Mayor of a homeless ghetto or the warden of a homeless prison.

I was told that Clifford went on vacation and then when he came back the board fired him. The Drop Inn Center has a relatively small board, and so it is easy to get a few development minded people to convince the others that it is time for a change. Josh Springs of the Cincinnati Coalition has been all over the news complaining that the local development company that wants to renovate the park and move the shelter was behind Clifford's firing...And the war goes on in Cincinnati with homeless people caught in the crossfire. I am sure that Clifford will land on his feet. I just hope that he is not so disgusted with the politics of homelessness that he decides to move to some other human service or civil rights project.

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People Who Make Things Work 2

Earl Pike Photo by AIDS Task Force Staff Kathie McClure

Earl Pike of the AIDS Task Force

By now you have heard that Earl Pike is no longer the director of the AIDS Task Force. I received his Facebook posting explaining his decision to move on, and he said that had been thinking about a move for sometime. This may be true, but it seems to me that if this was a planned move by the agency the statement would be more like, "At the end of this month, Earl Pike will be leaving the AIDS Task Force, and Tracy Jones will take the position of interim executive director," or something like that. But it does not matter, those are the often strange inner-workings of non-profit organizations that we will probably never hear the real story.

This series of posts reflects on people in Ohio who make government work. These are the people who are doing jobs that government should be doing or individuals who make local or state government work properly. As Director of the AIDS Task Force, Earl Pike worked to serve those with HIV/AIDS for the last 25 years, basically, since the beginning of the crisis. He is one of the deep thinkers in our community, and we all felt confident that with Pike in charge we had a chance of solving the problem. Coming up with solutions to providing the best services to people with AIDS is not the same talent as fund raising, human resources, and completing government grants in order to run a non-profit organization. Implementing a solution to a crisis is also not the same as media relations, interaction with politicians, and schmoozing with donors as required when leading a non-profit organization. But Earl Pike is always thinking about the population that he served, and how to improve their quality of life.

There are tons of people who say that government should be cut, and that once government gets involved everything will cost more and all we typically get is WFA (waste, fraud, and abuse). When I heard that Earl Pike had left the AIDS Task Force, I thought about how much has changed with regard to people suffering with AIDS during the time he dedicated to this issue. It is a testament to the power our government has to impact people's lives. In 1985, Ronald Reagan starts his second term in office, blood begins being tested for those donating blood to prevent the spread of AIDS, Back to the Future is the king of the box office, and New Coke is introduced. People that receive word that they have HIV consider it a death sentence, and agencies are constructed to act as hospice care centers to the dying. Government put a disproportionate amount of money into the problem compared to other killer diseases of heart disease, cancer, or respiratory diseases. We the people poured money into this new disease and improved the quality of life for millions throughout the world. What is the price of 20 to 30 extra years of life for millions? I have to think that it was worth it, and I am proud that I paid my taxes. This was a disease like none other seen by modern man that was spread by the exchange of bodily fluids. We put lots of money toward this problem and our best minds with tremendous results. Next time someone criticizes the wasteful government spending just ask them about HIV/AIDS.

I worked with Pike on various health care related boards and some homeless assistance projects, and look forward to some other bigger projects in the future. The last time we collaborated was when a truck ran over a homeless man in front of the AIDS Task Force building. Earl offered his space for a memorial for the man since the family was not big on going into a church. It was a nice way to remember Symeon Hurt who was trying to get his life together.

So, Earl Pike is moving on to a new problem or a broader look at the issue of sexual health and disparity issues. We can only hope that he will have as much success in his new endeavors as he had with the AIDS problem. Please do not think that I am saying that the AIDS crisis is done or over or that we can rest on the success that advocates such as Earl Pike have fought to achieve. All I am saying that if America sets it mind to something (getting to the moon, keeping HIV positive people alive, and keeping the elderly from living in extreme poverty when they retire) we do a pretty good job. We need more people like Earl Pike to put their talents and life to working to solve problems and we could finally solve homelessness, obesity, mental illness that disrupts a person's life, and eventually poverty.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The People Who Make Things Work 1

OAQDA Executive Director Mark Shanahan (third from right) is pictured with members of the German American Chamber of Commerce during the GACC's Renewables and Energy Efficiency Roadshow in September.
Photo of Gayle Channing Tenenbaum from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority Website.

Gayle Channing Tanenbaum
Congratulations to Gayle Channing Tenenbaum who will be inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame at the end of the month. Tanenbaum is a huge advocate for children in Ohio, and is the one of the reasons that things work in our society. Her job is to make sure that any threat to the health and welfare of young people in Ohio is met with an appropriate response. That could be a legal remedy, lobbying, twisting of arms, publicity, and most importantly shining a light on the inner workings of government. She has exposed the hypocrisy of campaigning on a platform of life, but cutting all human services funds so that young Mom's can not survive or attempts to balance the state budget disproportionately with cuts to programs serving poor people. She has worked 40 years in serving the most fragile populations. Tanenbaum works on public policy, planning as well as media and public relations.

Tanenbaum is a Senior Policy Fellow with Voices for Ohio's Children, and CEO of Channing and Associates consulting firm. Simultaneously, she serves a number of children and human services organizations including her role as Legislative Director for the Public Children Services Association of Ohio. She worked in the Celeste administration, and cut her teeth in social services in Cuyahoga County.

She holds a master's degree in social work from the University of Cincinnati. She is an adjunct professor, teaching public policy, at the Ohio State University College of Social Work. There are many who feel that our government is dysfunctional or dishonest or corrupt, but without honorable women such as Tanenbaum, Ohio would be in big trouble. She strives everyday to improve the quality of life for families and proven successes in access to benefits, health care expansion to children, and housing. None of us have the time to watch every move made by state government; that is why is critical to have people like Gayle Channing Tanenbaum acting as our eyes and ears down in Columbus.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

No Fund Raiser This Friday

Guys Night Out Postponed!!!

The Cleveland Tower City Cinema's has announced that they have to postpone the "Guys Night Out" fundraiser for this Friday evening. This does not look good for the Jet Li, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis film. Ticket sales for the Expendables were not up to the level expected for a film with all these stars. We will give you more information in the near future.

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Latest Appeal To Mayor For Help

NEOCH Board Asks the City to Enforce Building and Housing Standards

Dear Mayor Frank Jackson:

For the past two months, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless has tried to improve conditions at the Community Women’s Shelter. Our goal is to get the same treatment for homeless women as would be extended to women living in an apartment. As you know, on May 3, 2010, residents of CWS were moved to their current and temporary facility at 1701 Payne Avenue due to renovations of the CWS building. The site contained no shower forcing women to go to nearby Cosgrove Center and North Point Men’s Transitional Shelter to shower. If this were an apartment building with 90 women and one shower, this would have been condemned the day that it opened.

NEOCH’s has worked for 10 years to improve the conditions within the shelters, and we feel that things are moving backward with this temporary location. We have spent countless hours over the last month to work on the problems at the Community Women’s Shelter. Our board member, Rosie Palfy has filed numerous complaints to city officials about the health and safety of the shelter. We filed complaints with the state, and with every department that will listen. NEOCH filed complaints with building and housing citing multiple building code violations in the first week of June. Please remember that homeless people typically spend less than 30 days in shelter, so for many this will be their only contact with City or County funded shelters.

Palfy called repeatedly and even drove downtown to check on the complaint in person, and no one answered or responded to her messages. After hearing no update on her complaint, she called Inspector Santora from the office of Building and Housing in late July. Mr. Santora had made a visual inspection of the facility and finally called Ms. Palfy on July 23, 2010, and remained adamant that the shelter is complying with all health and safety codes. Ms. Palfy cited many violations in the shelter such as the number of people per toilet and the lack of showers, the overcrowded conditions, the lack of the proper number of sinks, and the deteriorating conditions in the shelter. Inspector Santora remained unyielding in his defense of the shelter and insistence that the plumbing was adequate. However, it is our understanding that congregate living facilities must have at least one toilet and shower per 10 people. The shelter regularly has 80-100 people per night with four working toilets and only one shower. Mr. Santora was described as “rude” during their phone conversation by Ms. Palfy.

The inspector could not explain why the certificate of occupancy indicates that the shelter can only have 50 beds, but now has 80 beds and as many as 100 women sleeping in the shelter. The inspector indicated that he toured the showers in the building around the corner to see where the women shower. Despite the fact that there is nothing in the building and housing code that allows residential facilities to have showers available for a few hours a day down the street. The inspector did not check on the fact that women were using the urinals because there are not enough toilets, and that the water pressure is so low it is often the case that they do not flush. The inspector’s response was, “Where do you think they would be going if they were [sleeping] outside?”

Santora believed that the women were not in any imminent danger and so was unwilling to take corrective action. We have done as much as we can to prevent harm, but are not receiving any help from the City. We have already seen a majority of the women not showering. We have already had women going to the hospital because of infections. Inspector Santora seemed to be treating the Coalition as the enemy here, and he seemed to indicate that it was our intention to shut down the facility and make the women homeless again. This is not our intention or our goal. We just want the women to live in humane conditions, and for the City and County to take this problem seriously. We ask that the bureaucrats who spent a year planning this move to admit that they made a mistake in not planning for the proper number of showers and the large number of women who needed shelter, and fix their mistake. NEOCH is asking for your help to stand up for the women in the shelter. Your intervention can help improve the conditions in the shelter. We are always willing to help, but we cannot tolerate the conditions that the women are living under.

Sincerely yours,

Marcia Bufford

Bufford also sent this to Building and Housing Director Rybka as a follow up to the early June complaint and members of Cleveland City Council.
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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Fund Raiser to Benefit NEOCH

Guys Night Out at Tower City

(Women are Invited as well)!! Cleveland's Tower City Cinemas is hosting a benefit for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless on August 13 at 6 p.m.

Tickets are available for $25 at the Cleveland Cinema's website. There will be an food, prizes, and tickets to see the Expendables with Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews, and Mickey Rourke for its opening night.

For more information call Tower City Cinemas at 440-526-0355.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Census Update 2010

Ben Holbert of the US Census gives an award to Luke Drotar VISTA for NEOCH for his work in making sure that homeless people were counted in 2010. Then some guy in a Hawaiian shirt crashed the photo shoot.

Done for Another 10 Years
NEOCH and especially Luke Drotar did a ton of work on making sure that the US Census did not miss homeless people during the count. We are pretty sure that every shelter in Cleveland was counted, but most of those who were outside or those who only surface at a meal program were largely missed. We hope that the Census releases the shelter count as they had done in the 2000 Census. NEOCH staff have prepared a list of recommendations for the 2020 Census if we still have not got it together as a country and solved homelessness.

1. We need one staff person from the Census to be designated as liaison to NEOCH and the County Office of Homeless Services that will cover the whole county. This time there were three different offices that covered different service areas, and each had one supervisor.

2. We need more field staff counting, and fewer staff advertising the Census. Also, there were not enough administrators coordinating or directing the field staff that we could communicate with in the office. Those directing the field staff were also out in the field and we had a hard time getting in touch with Census staff.

3. We need to have Census clearly define to us the definition of shelter that they intend to count as part of the homeless count. Where do the mental health and treatment programs fit into the count?

4. We need the privacy of the outdoor sites communicated to workers early in the process and this should be a United States policy and not just a regional policy.

5. One month before the count, outreach workers and homeless individuals should be hired and sworn in as Census employees to guide them to the outdoor locations on the day they count those resistant to shelter.

6. We need some guidelines for how they eliminate duplication with regard to the meal count since as many as 50-60% of the population are counted in other locations.

7. All the numbers should be released to the City and County after the count to compare to our February HUD count and to use for planning.


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