Thursday, June 30, 2011

NEOCH Names New Executive Director

Christopher and Jennifer Kocan at the 2009 NEOCH Annual Fund Raiser. Jennifer named interim Executive Director of NEOCH in June 2011.

Board of Trustees Appoints New Interim Executive Director

On June 22, 2011, The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) Board of Trustees appointed former Board Treasurer, Jennifer Kocan, as Interim Executive Director. Kocan resigned her Board position and is stepping into this new role until a new Executive Director is hired. Kocan has been asked to serve for the next six months and oversee the hiring process for a new director.

The Coalition for the Homeless, one of only seven similar organizations in the country, has a 20 year history of incubating new programs and being the leading voice for people experiencing homelessness in the region. In order to take advantage of this unique position in the community, the NEOCH Board wants to take a leadership role in ending homelessness in Greater Cleveland with a new ambassador to bring disparate interests together under one goal. Board President Marcia Bufford said, “We want to be a positive agent of change while respecting the accomplishments of the Coalition over the last two decades.”

Brian Davis, who was serving as the Executive Director, has accepted the position of Director of Community Organizing for the organization. "Brian has extensive community organizing experience, valuable contacts at the state and national level, and a truly unique and trusting relationship with the homeless community, and for those reasons we are asking him to stay with the organization and focus his time solely on advocacy related matters," says Bufford.

Kocan will focus on ensuring a smooth transition to the new Executive Director and will work to reassure NEOCH's constituents, members and partners that there won't be any disruptions to the important work that NEOCH undertakes every day. "I'm looking forward to helping the NEOCH staff and Board of Trustees during this time of transition," says Kocan. "I strongly support NEOCH's mission of empowering homeless men, women and their families and giving them a voice in the community, and I am passionate about the advocacy and public education work that is being done to further this mission. I am committed to helping the Board examine how best to move NEOCH forward in the current economic climate, and my top priority is to help re-build and strengthen existing relationships within the community and to collaborate with new partners."

Kocan has been a member of NEOCH since 2005 and was a member of the Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2011. She earned her Masters in Business Administration from Cleveland State University and has worked in the finance industry for 15 years. Bufford said, “On behalf of the entire board, we are so grateful that Kocan was willing to step forward to work on rebuilding the organization.”

Bufford said, “We want to make sure that we can tap the valuable historical knowledge of Brian Davis, but also we need to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose. We want to secure a place at the table to work on the federal effort to end veteran’s homelessness and assist with the amplification of the voice of homeless people about the sharp rise in family homelessness.”

On Behalf of the NEOCH Board
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Social Media and Street Chronicle

Street Newspaper is Now on Facebook

Thank you to all who have supported the Cleveland Street Chronicle since its reincarnation. Here at the Chronicle, we’ve tried our best to keep you current on the latest news concerning poverty and homelessness in Cleveland. To help fulfill this mission, we have set up a Facebook page so that we can better interact with our readership and supporters as well as keep you up-to-date with all necessary developments. To the page we’ll post multimedia content periodically as well as links to online versions of Street Chronicle articles from past issues. We expect it to be the next best thing to holding a fresh Cleveland Street Chronicle in your hand. Go search ‘Cleveland Street Chronicle’ on Facebook and ‘Like’ our page so that we can better connect with you.

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry. Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

UHCAN Health Care Forum

Delivery of Care Health Care Forum

This third and final forum will focus on the delivery system transformation encouraged by the Affordable Care Act and how that might impact the ways in which individuals will receive health care. It will feature Greg Moody, Director of Governor Kasich’s Office of Health Transformation, who will share how Ohio will implement the national health reform law so as to improve the quality and coordination of health care while reducing costs.

Panelists include:
  • Cathy Levine, J.D., Executive Director of Universal Health Care Action Network Ohio and Co-Chair of Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage;
  • Peter DeGolia, M.D., C.M.D., Director of the Center for Geriatric Medicine of University Hospitals Case Medical Center and Executive Director of McGregor PACE;
  • Gwyn Hartman, M.B.A., Director of Care Management Programs for the MetroHealth System; John Begala, Executive Director of the Center for Community Solutions; and,
  • Aaron Smith, MD, Kaiser Permanente.

Monday, June 20, 2011
4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Cleveland State University
Levin College of Urban Affairs
Glickman-Miller Hall
Roberta Steinbacher Atrium
1717 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
Parking in East 17th structure.

or by calling 216.523.7330.

The forums are free and open tothe public.
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Affordable Housing Forum in June

Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance Meeting June 6, 2011

Four guests appeared at the June 6, 2011 Cuyahoga Affordable Housing Alliance meeting to talk about affordable housing issues in suburban communities. NEOCH assists in hosting this meeting every first Monday of the month unless there is a federal holiday. This is a venue in which government regularly meets with advocates and housing providers to talk about the state of affordable housing in the Greater Cleveland. This is a chance to exchange information in order to prevent any further loss of affordable housing in our community. We review possible troubled property and have regular reports from key community stakeholders such as the Housing Authority, the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County Community Development. These meetings are a fixture in the community for the last 12 years.

In June 2011, we invited representatives from the largest suburbs around Cleveland. There are five communities (Cleveland Hts, Euclid, East Cleveland, Lakewood, and Parma) all are designated entitlement communities by the federal government. This means that they are a sufficient size and have enough people living in poverty to need additional help from the federal government. This additional help (Community Development Block Grant) is available to assist with housing emergencies, homelessness, eviction diversion or other similar programs. Those who were able to attend included:
  • Mary Leigh--Chair of Economic Development in Lakewood,
  • Sally Martin--Housing Manager of South Euclid and co-chair of the First Suburbs Housing Committee.
  • Karen Knittel from the Cleveland Heights Planning and Development Department,
  • Don Graves Assistant Building Commissioner for the City of Parma.
About 30 people attended the event, and each of the four presenters gave a short presentation before chair Phil Star of Cleveland State University opened up the forum for questions.

Cleveland Hts.
They fell below 50,000 residents as a result of the foreclosure crisis after the 2010 Census. It is estimated that Cleveland Hts. is now a community of 46,000 people. They are hoping to remain an entitlement community, but that is a decision made by HUD Washington. Cleveland Hts. does fund housing programs for low and moderate-income residents. They have staff to assist seniors & the disabled with issues. Code violations are making it difficult to meet the home buying assistance goals also the age of the housing stock and the problems with lead paint also are complicating the City's efforts.
  • Down Payment Assistance fund helped 30 people last year.
  • Neighborhood stabilization fund helped to renovated 12 homes.
  • Now they are working to sell these newly renovated homes to those with a modest income.
  • Demolished 13 homes that are severely distressed
Mary Leigh of the Community Development Office runs all the federally funded programs and is following their local consolidated pPlan. They are working to try to increase home ownership in Lakewood, which has been a challenge over the last three years. They also have CDBG funds, HOME funds from the federal government, Neighborhood Stabilization funds (federal help to confront the foreclosure crisis). Lakewood does a great deal of code reinforcement and supportive service by partnering with Lakewood Community Services. They also fund fair housing activities through Housing Research and Advocacy Center. They are attempting to strategically analyze impediments to housing stability in Lakewood. The City funds CTO for rental help and dispute resolution. Lakewood is trying to encourage the development of ADA accessible housing for seniors. They have a low interest loan program and a senior deferred loan program for seniors. Lakewood has a first time homebuyer program to encourage renters to become home owners. They are distributing rental assistance through Lakewood Community Services as part of the federal stimulus. There is a financial education program, and a home weatherization assistance.

South Euclid
South Euclid was the only non-entitlement community represented at the forum. Ms. Martin is the current chair of the First Suburbs Coalition which is a group of 18 Inner-ring suburbs. South Euclid has gone through some of the same problems associated with the foreclosure crisis as the others. They have 700 residents at risk and 380 homes being foreclosed on with 9,600 homes hard hit by the downturn. NPI helping map out the city to show where there are problems. Non-entitlement communities rely on the County government to assist with housing issues. South Euclid was part of the $1.5 million grant from the county from Neighborhood Stabilization to assist the first suburbs governments. South Euclid has created a program called "Make the Bungalow Hip Again" to try to encourage families to move back into the aging South Euclid bungalow housing. They also have a green building initiative that they are advertising. South Euclid has a public private partnership with the completion of four green homes.

Ms. Martin described the pain within the suburbs with many homeowners hurting – there are lots more people on Food Stamps and struggling to pay the mortgage. She described the Housing department as becoming more of a social worker staff. They have sent letters to everyone in danger of foreclosure trying to get them help before it is too late. She and senior South Euclid housing staff have walked with representatives from ESOP through the neighborhood to offer help to those facing foreclosure. They created some community gardens where houses have been come down due to foreclosure. City officials have had to deal with 240 Foreclosures that now have been declared not fit for human habitation.

Don Graves a building commissioner filled in for Eric Tollup from Community Development who was called away. With the assistance of Neighborhood Stabilization funding they NSP purchased and tore down 26 houses. Employers have not fled as much as they have feared especially with the help of the bailout of the auto industry. Parma also has a first time home buyers program. They have senior services to help with utilities as well as property maintenance division and can help with seniors who are struggling. The City has to deal with around 300 vacant and foreclosed property. They are seeing more foreclosures because of people not being able to find jobs. ESOP and others present at Seniors Centers to offer assistance. Citizens are concerned about foreclosures and people abandoned properties. There was a great deal of discussion about properties not being taken care of by the banks or government entity which owns a vacant or foreclosed building. Most of the foreclosure assistance money given to the city was used to take down properties. Parma has developed a collaboration in which Fire/County Health Dept. and social workers all go out together when there is a crisis at a housing complex. They have a crisis intervention model to help with a need. Having all agencies present at same time reduces the runaround with ADAMS Board staff, housing inspectors, Police and Senior services all present makes it more likely that the person will be able to find the help that they need.

A number of questions came up including:
  • The question came up with regard to the relationship of the suburbs with the County Land Bank? Most said that they were just beginning to work with the Land Bank. South Euclid seemed to be the furthest along in trying to work with the County Land Bank.
  • Most of the communities did not see a change in the next two years in the state of housing.
  • There was near universal condemnation of the new process initiated by HUD Washington with regard to cutting grass complaints in Fannie Mae or HUD owned foreclosure property. Previously, the suburbs had one contact to call and they would immediately respond. Now there are a number of contacts and the response is very slow.
  • There is still no resolution of the shell game the banks are playing with filing a title on a house that has been retaken by a bank.
  • Parma and others have unpaid furlough days for staff, and yet they are all being asked to do more. Most of the suburban governments are suffering and just cannot keep up with the amount of work expected by taxpayers.
  • It is getting impossible to keep up with growing amount of work coupled with a lack of resources. Most communities had to lay off staff while their workload grew.
  • Some of the banks are trying to help, but others are acting in a disgraceful manner.
  • Banks are still stalling at living up to their obligations with regard to the foreclosures.
  • Suburbs are still seeing no end in the number of foreclosures and the tsunami has not ended.
  • Suburbs are still seeing strategic defaults where a homeowner walks away. This makes it difficult to keep up with maintenance on these properties.
  • Most of the communities are being aggressive with vacancies so that they do not get out of control and bring down property values even more. South Euclid has 600 vacant units-- Parma has 300 vacant units. South Euclid did see a couple of units burnt down in their jurisdiction.
  • Communities are just starting to implement the second stage of the neighborhood stabilization funding. They are trying to acquire the worst housing inventory to take down and reuse.
  • A few suburbs reported seeing squatters in their vacant properties.
  • Questions came up with regard to allowing Fannie Mae property owners to become renters. Most suburbs use their law department to help with these issues. A couple of communities mentioned contact with Hoarders.
  • All first time homebuyers have to use a traditional lender in the hope that they will not go through a foreclosure later. Also, most communities have a required financial literacy class to educate new homebuyers who receive suburban help.
  • The suburbs rely on the County Health Department to help out with bed bug issues.
  • There was a question about seeking project based housing units from the Housing Authority in the suburbs. (None have been offered in the last two years.)
  • Would the suburbs seek funding from a future County Trust Fund if it were created?
  • There was mention of a problem in which seniors took out the equity in their houses to help out their kids, and now they are stuck with an unaffordable mortgage. Or young people will not allow their senior parents to take out a reverse mortgage because there would be no inheritances left.
  • They have seen an uptick in the number of single family homes being turned into rental units in the last three years. They have not seen the number of for-profit rent to own schemes in the suburbs like they saw in the past, but it is not a huge problem.
  • There was some resistance to building departments taking over lead safety enforcement. This is a health department issue, and the building departments do not want to oversee the issue.
Next meeting is July 11 (because of the holiday), and we will hear from State Representative Mike Foley and the City of Cleveland Community Development staff Bill Resseger. All are welcome to attend.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Forum on Shelter Standards II

Three women who have had experience with the Community Women's Shelter were on hand to listen to the testimony at the County Council meeting on June 9, 2011.

County Council members Dan Brady, Yvonne Conwell, Pernel Jones Jr. and Sunny Simon listen to homeless people talk about the homeless shelters within Cuyahoga County.

Photos by Pleasure Simmons

Health and Human Services Focuses on Regulating the Shelters II

We have posted the proposed shelter standards on the NEOCH website along with a summary.

I was able to testify before the County Council with regard the state of the shelters in Cuyahoga County. I started out my testimony by thanking the County and specifically Ruth Gillett and Rick Werner for protecting the lives of homeless people living in the County. We are one of the last areas in the United States with guaranteed access to shelter. We do not turn people away when they show up for help. The shelter doors are never locked to those in need of a bed. This is largely thanks to the political will of elected officials over the last 30 years from the City and County, but certainly the policy was pushed and implemented by Cuyahoga County staff from the Office of Homeless Services under the direction of Ruth Gillett. This policy of not turning anyone away that Ruth Gillett has overseen for the last 17 years has saved many people's lives in our community.

I talked about the history of the shelters rising out of religious community, and the fact that none of us thought that we would still be here 30 years later and still seeing a growing problem of homelessness in America. Everyone who worked with homeless people in the 1980s felt that this was a temporary problem that we would deal with at the federal level and it would be over. There was no need for standards since this was a temporary problem and the community was going to meet the emergency needs of families in warehouses and the basements of government buildings. It is phenomenal that we are still talking about housing instability among families living in Cuyahoga County 30 years later. But the reality is that we are at this place and it does not look like we will see an end to homelessness anytime in the near future. So, it is the position of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless as well as the Homeless Congress that we need a law to set a minimum standard for the shelters. We need to assure that if a person is in need on the East Side or the West Side they can expect similar treatment.

I talked about the need for regulations to avoid future tragedies within the shelters. Cleveland residents have seen people die or end up in the hospitals after staying in the shelters. I talked about the women being taken by ambulance to the hospital and when they return to the shelter all of their personal belongings were thrown away. We need minimum standards to assure that public taxpayer dollars are being used effectively. I urged the County Council to pass this legislation that Homeless Congress members spent the last four years working on. I gave some details about how our recommendations were put together and developed. I mentioned this is merely a suggestion that we are all willing to negotiate the details. We put our recommendations together as a starting point that if implemented, we would have the best publicly funded shelters in the country. The document that we presented was influenced by the recently passed San Francisco legislation, and we hope will be the basis for negotiations with the County.

I gave some details on common complaints within the community that NEOCH has collected over the years. While we are not in charge of the shelters or the funding for the shelters, many homeless people come to us to resolve their issues. The biggest concern was people having to sleep in the hospital waiting rooms or bus shelters after being discharged from the shelters at night. Improper discharges or punishments being enforced before a grievance can be heard are the main issues that homeless people want addressed. We have heard many complaints about staff mistreatment that could be addressed with conflict resolution or mediation training. I talked about the improper contact between security guards and residents. There were many facility problems such as leaking roofs as well as numerous food issues within the shelters. All of these issues are addressed in proposed shelter standards that we have developed.

The County brings in over $30 million for homeless services, it seems that we could put a little aside to enforce shelter standards. Of the 19 shelters in Cuyahoga County, 16 of them are heavily dependent on taxpayer dollars. The county has a great deal of leverage with the shelters in enforcing regulations. The Coalition receives regular complaints and we hear all these tough stories about shelters. Every other system of residential care (prisons, nursing homes, treatment centers, hospitals) have regulations. The notable exception is the shelter system, which serves 6,000 to 7,000 Cuyahoga County tax payers per year. It has to be said that the workers at the shelters want to do the right thing, and are some of the best and brightest in our society working at the local homeless shelters. There are mistakes and misunderstandings that take place in any job. We need government to step in to provide quality oversight of these facilities. We need elected officials to be aware how the tax dollars that they deliver to these non-profits agencies are being utilized. Finally, I urged the Council to take up this legislation and pass a bill that would regulate the shelters in Cuyahoga County.

A number of the members asked questions, and I made every effort to answer those issues. Councilwoman Sunny Simon asked about the City of Cleveland and if they had taken this up. I explained that we had tried to convince the City to take up this issue, but the administration was unwilling. There were concerns over cost and which agency within the City has the expertise to oversee these rules. One member asked about the County Office of Homeless Services taking up this issue. I said that as an OHS Advisory member, the group has discussed the issue but most of the discussion is to improve the contracting process. The Homeless Congress and the Coalition are clear that we want a law passed that will survive different administrations and that a homeless person can go to if they feel the shelter has done wrong. Contracts are not publicly available, and there are guidelines that are contained in all the existing contracts. There are problems with the shelters and just improving the contracting guidelines will not work. There was some concern expressed about the expense of this law. There was also concern that the County has not passed legislation with the new legislative branch of government, so this will be one of the first pieces taken up by the new government.

Brian Davis
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Forum on Shelter Standards

Photos by Pleasure Simmons

Health and Human Services Hearing Focuses on Shelters

About 15 homeless people attended a hearing held by Cuyahoga County Council members on Thursday June 9 at the Justice Center. Six individuals stepped up to the microphone to talk about the conditions within the shelters, and many asked that County officials put in place regulations to assure that public taxpayer money are used effectively. All six of the people who testified did an amazing job. A few were currently homeless and had to step up to the microphone while the directors of some of the shelters were sitting in the audience. That takes a great deal of courage to speak out about the place in which they are currently sleeping. The first speaker was a woman from the Community Women's shelter who talked about how there is a need to improve the conditions at the shelter.

The first planned speaker was Don who had stayed at a number of shelters, and had concern that there was very little follow up services. Don mentioned how he received very little help from the shelter staff in finding or maintaining housing. He asked that the Council make housing assistance and follow up services a top priority for those sleeping in the shelters from the first day that a person enters. Rosie was next up and she talked about the problems that the women had last summer, when the County placed the 80 to 110 women into a shelter with only one shower and a small number of toilets. She talked in great detail about women traveling to Tower City to use the facilities because of a lack of toilets at the temporary shelter or the women using the urinals at the shelter because the bathroom was too small for the 100 women who slept there last summer.

Sheri was up next and she talked about her previous experience at the shelters, and the difficulty in finding food for her special dietary needs. She talked about regularly going hungry because she could not find food to meet her doctor mandated diet. Sheri talked about the lack of healthy foods that are unfortunately served by many shelters. Norman, a veteran who currently sleeps in one of the shelters talked about the difficulty in filing a grievance, and his inability to find a place where all the rules of the shelter were written down. Norman talked about the staff making arbitrary decisions about the rules because there is no one demanding fair and equal treatment of the residents.

Darrell, also currently living in the shelter, spoke from his perspective as a health care professional about the unhealthy conditions within the shelters. He talked about the mold at the men's shelter and the horrible conditions within the women's shelter. Darrell mentioned the need for a better trained staff to serve the population. He said that there needs to be more oversight of the health care needs of the residents of the shelters in Cleveland and urged the Council to adopt a set of rules.

All of the members of the Homeless Congress who testified did a great job of briefly explaining the problem and talking about the legislation they worked on to solve these problems. All were clear and concise in describing the problems within the shelters. The six members were respectful of the shelters and the staff at the facilities, but pointed out that there was a need for improvements. All were respectful of the County Council members who listened intently to the diversity of issues brought up by the residents. The County Council chambers are intimidating with a podium standing before a half circle of 16 foreboding chairs. Health and Human Services chair Dan Brady hosted the discussion. We need to thank Council members Michael Gallagher, Sunny Simon, Pernel Jones Jr., and Yvonne Conwell who all attended and listened intently to the group of individuals with homeless experiences.

I had the good fortune of testifying before the County Council on behalf of the homeless population. I will post the notes on my testimony and the questions that came up from the members of the Council next. Stay tuned.

Brian Davis
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Healthcare for the Low Income

Second Healthcare Forum Held at CSU

The topic of discussion at the second forum focused on how the Affordable Care Act will affect our economy. The essential goals behind health care reform are to create better access and quality at a more affordable price. With healthcare reform 32 million uninsured individuals will be insured. For clarity, Medicaid is state funded insurance for those with financial hardships while Medicare is federally funded for the elderly and disabled, something I habitually mix up. Both of these programs face big challenges with the implementation of healthcare reform. The forum had several knowledgeable speakers from a wide range backgrounds including:
  • Thomas S. Campanella, a professor at Baldwin-Wallace College as well as the Director of the Health Care MBA Program.
  • Bill Ryan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Health Affairs and serves as the leading advocate for northeast Ohio hospitals.
  • Dick Christie, MD. the Director of the medical Residency Program at St. Vincent Charity Medical center.
  • Patricia Gray, PN, PhD, Vice President of Healthcare Education Initiatives at Cuyahoga Community College and
  • Bette Bonder, PhD, Dean of the College of Sciences and Health Professions at Cleveland State University also spoke.
Campeanella stressed that the idea creating many Accountable Care facilities have great potential. Accountable Care Facilities are a key component in the new healthcare reform in regards to access and increasing efficiency and then ultimately cost. Accountable Care Facilities are essentially facilities that provide primary care practitioners that oversee and coordinate patients care. It is intended to improve the general health of citizens and prevent people from using emergency rooms as their only source of healthcare. This would necessitate an increase in the number of primary care doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Campeanella also predicted that private insurance companies would provide programs to those covered by private insurance company to create incentives to increase and encourage clients to lead healthier lifestyles. However, he cautioned that “just because you build it does not mean that they will come.” Undoubtedly having access to preventive and maintenance care will improve people’s health, but personal responsibility to seek out available services and address one's health needs on a day to day basis will play a big part in the success of health care reform.

Ryan focused on the role of hospitals in Cuyahoga County. He pointed out that locally medicine is big business especially with the number of hospitals and colleges that provide healthcare programs. He stated that 140,000 jobs in Northeast Ohio are healthcare related. However, Ryan pointed out that just because healthcare is big business does not mean that the community healthcare needs are met. He went on to say that most hospitals are approaching 50% of their patient’s being on either Medicare or Medicaid. Hospitals are having to re-evaluate how to best serve the needs of their communities. In his opinion, hospitals are starting to do just that and Ryan predicts this will increase in the future. He did comment that Accountable Care facilities are few and far between and therefore citizens are hesitant in accepting them at this time. Many communities have strong attachments to the hospital in their communities. Ryan used the Huron Hospital closing as an example and the developing of an Accountable Care Facility opening up in its place. (Although many of the residents concern over the closing of Huron Hospital had to do with not having an emergency facility in close proximity that could care for individuals in extreme medical distress.)

Christie, addressed the issue of the shortage of Primary Care Physician as well as Nurse Practitioners and Physicians assistants. He holds the opinion that many of the loan reimbursement and forgiveness programs for those going into primary care medicine will create little change as the 2.4% increase in funding for loan forgiveness is too little to create large scale change. Christie pointed out that at a minimum it will take 8 years to produce more primary care practitioners, just because of the time it takes to educate and train such fields of study. His prediction for healthcare did not echo the theme of potential. He also explained that it is costly to go into primary care medicine and that many go into specialty fields. Specialist make twice as much as a primary care doctor in order to cover the mountain of debt they incur from med school. Also specialist and research doctors are often med school professors, therefore students have more direct communication with specialist and are more likely to go into specialized care. Christie fells the Affordable Care Act is not going to be a “game changer.” Ryan chimed in that there is no new money coming in, and that healthcare access, quality and cost would all be positively affected with the creation of decent paying jobs and or public work programs.

Gray and Bonder outlined the extensive work Tri-C and CSU have done and will continue doing to prepare healthcare workforce for the coming needs. This includes using extensive partnerships to save money and attempting to meet the needs of the growing healthcare industry. However, there was a comment by both speakers that it will cost a great deal to train students in medical occupations due to the students needing exposure and practice in the field. It is hard to expand programs and that many of the programs have a two year waiting list and many of the recent grads are having a hard time finding employment. The example used was radiological technician programs which have saturated the market. Dr. Bonder made a great point at the end of the rather bleak forum when an audience member asked what can we do now to improve the problem in the future? Bonder suggested that people volunteer their time reading to children in underperforming school districts or other work with the next generation.

It was a somber end to an overwhelming forum. While there was some optimism expressed, intense hesitation at how successful healthcare reform will be was the bottom line message expressed at the forum . All forum are archived on CSU’s website with a link provided.

by Holly Lyon
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cuyahoga County To Listen to Homeless Thursday

Homeless Will Testify Before County Council

The Homeless Congress members as well as staff of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless will testify on Thursday June 9, 2011 before the Cuyahoga County Council Human Services Subcommittee. The meeting takes place at the Justice Center headquarters of the County Council at 1 p.m. on June 9 before Dan Brady’s County Health and Human Services Committee. Four members of the Homeless Congress who have all stayed in the shelters will testify about their previous experience and the need for a law regulating the shelters.

“Many homeless people are concerned about the conditions within the shelters, and we want a local law that will regulate the publicly funded emergency housing facilities,” said Brian Davis of NEOCH. The Congress, the Coalition, and homeless people are asking for local regulations that will be enforced by some office within the County with an ability for homeless people to file a grievance if the shelter is not performing. “We are willing to negotiate on exactly what the legislation looks like, but we want a place that will have the authority to oversee the shelters. We want to avoid another situation in which 100 women slept in a shelter for the summer with only one working shower as happened this last summer,” said Davis.

Additional members of the Homeless Congress and homeless people will be in the audience to hear the testimony and urge the County Council to introduce a bill that would regulate the shelters. The County oversees more than $30 million on homeless services, and does not have a set of local regulations to oversee the shelters. There are regulations of nursing homes, treatment centers, group homes, prisons, but not shelters. Homeless people are just asking for a minimum standard with regard to any shelter in Cuyahoga County receiving tax payer support.

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