Mild Winter and Low Numbers Welcomed by Homeless
This warm weather has been a big help for those trying to help homeless people, and we have not had to spend huge dollars on overflow in Cuyahoga County. Cleveland is one of the last cities in the United States that will find a place for everyone who shows up at the door requesting help. This has been policy for 20 years, and has kept the number of people who pass away down to a minimum. We do not have large numbers of people freezing to death that is seen in other cities. When things are horribly cold more people choose to go inside. We have spoken about the confusion that some have regarding diversion, but overall the system is built to provide shelter to everyone in need.
The nice weather has translated to fewer days this winter of overflow for the men. The County has not had to pay for as many days of overflow as they did last year. So far through January, we were told that the Shelter has only needed 7 to 10 days worth of overflow for the whole winter. This is great news. The way the shelter system for men works is that they go to Lakeside, and then after dinner the staff figure out if there are enough beds inside the building to serve all those who showed up. They have a mat room that can serve as the primary overflow. They also fill empty beds within the shelter of people who have a pass for the evening. These are people who may be visiting family or have an early interview on the far west side so they stay on a couch for the night or they may be in the hospital. They get a pass so they do not lose their bed, but those empty beds must be used if needed. Then once the beds are all full and all the mats are full, the bus is pulled out and transportation starts to other facilities. They have at least three other groups in the community who are willing to help out including Volunteers of America and City Mission and a religious group. It is a pretty elaborate system worked out between the County and the Lutheran Metro Ministry. Thankfully, with the warm weather we have not had to implement it as much as last year.
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