Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Death in the Homeless Community

Two Rough Stories for the Homeless Population

This weekend we heard two stories which only strengthen our resolve to continue our work to end homelessness in America as soon as possible. The first is the death within the shelter at 2100 Lakeside. A man we will call "Bobbie" had a seizure during dinner and never regained consciousness. He was transported to the hospital, but emergency staff could not revive him. This is nothing to do with the care he received in the shelter or a result of negligence, but it is none the less sad that a guy took his last breath in the crowded loneliness of a shelter. LMM's 2100 Lakeside shelter in fact has better access to health care professionals than most any other facility in the city with Care Alliance and the Cleveland Clinic operating medical clinics nearly every day at the shelter. Bobbie had long standing health complications and passed away at the facility without family or loved ones around him.

The other story was the bizarre tale of the Joseph Kopp being found buried in a backyard in Seven Hills. Kopp had been homeless and estranged from his family for five years. Kopp seemed to be living in a garage in Seven Hills, and many media outlets have said that the owner of the house wanted Kopp to move out and an argument broke out. Kopp's body was found near the house where he was allegedly residing. Police have arrested Frank Dienes and have stated that they are still investigating Charlya Dienes. It is dangerous being homeless. Sleeping in a large building with 300 people or sleeping outside without the safety of a locked door can have an negative effect on a person's health. A homeless person is constantly on edge and sleeping with "one eye open." There is sleep deprivation problems and the fear of being attacked. This is only going to put a new element of fear into the lives of homeless people. Will people be more likely to be fearful of accepting help from Good Samaritans? There are so many people sleeping at the shelter who are picked up by suburbanites from the shelters or downtown to do casual yard work or painting or other light work around houses. After this story, how many of the homeless population will be weary or will refuse to get in a strange car for work or an offer of housing?

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