Saturday, March 31, 2012

Regulating Food Distribution in America

It Will Never Work
Both Philadelphia and New York City mayors have announced plans to restict access to food for hungry residents.  The Philadelphia Mayor announced in mid March that he was going to try to restrict distribution of food in parks.  New York City officials are restricting access to donated food to the shelters. Both these efforts will fail, and we know in Cleveland the pitfalls of trying to bring some order to the chaotic world of food distribution.

For more on this issue go here.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fair Housing Forum

Mental Health And Housing
Our friends at the Housing Research and Advocacy Center are having an event to teach people more about fair housing for people with a mental health issues.  It is Thursday April 5 at Greenbridge Apartments at 9 a.m.  This should be a good chance to get your questions answered from one of the premier fair housing groups in Ohio.
For more information go here.
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WCPN Covers Homeless Issues

Dan Kerr's Book Featured on Radio

Yesterday, WCPN and the morning show, the Sound of Ideas, featured a discussion about homelessness or more specifically a look at Dan Kerr's book Derelict Paradise which traces the history of homelessness in Cleveland.  We had a Street Voices speaker, Sheri West on who successfully transitioned from shelter back into housing in 2008 and 2009.  An interview with Ms. West will be in the next Street Chronicle.   I was also able to participate.  Jeff Kaiser Executive Director of Haven of Rest in Akron participated by telephone.
For More information go here.
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Bridgeways is Closing

Another Big Hole in our Safety Net

The cuts at the state and federal level have taken a heavy toll on our community locally with the announcement today of the closing of Bridgeways mental health facility.  Without an ability to raise additional revenue at the state or federal level, there is extreme pressure on the local County and City to do more with less.  Today it was announced that one our critical human service agencies is going out of business by April 30, 2012.

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For more information go here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Check out the New Website

Everything is working
The new site is up and everything (including our e-mail) is working.  Please explore.  Thanks to Lightcomm and Jesse for all his hard work on the new site.  A couple of notes on the new site include the pictures on the front page are from the Grapevine photography project in which a series of professional photographers taught homeless people the art of photography.
To read the full post go here.
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Thursday, March 22, 2012

NEOCH having E-mail Issues

New Website is Available

Our new website is up and available.  It has all kinds of new resources and new information on the site.  One issue right now is that our e-mail is not working properly.  If you are trying to send an e-mail to NEOCH, it may have bounced back.  We have not received an e-mail since Tuesday at 8:30 pm.   If you need to reach us, you can send an e-mail to clevelandhomeless (at) yahoo (dot) com.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  We should have this working in the near future.

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NEOCH Annual Meeting

Congratulations to Chandra and Stowe NEOCH Award Winners

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless held its annual meeting on March 15, 2012.  We introduced our 2011 Annual Report which is available on our website here.  We also gave out awards and had a nice meal provided by the Board.   Subodh Chandra was recognized as the Advocate of the Year for all his work protecting the rights of homeless to vote in person.  The Board recognized Brent Stowe from Lakewood as the Volunteer of the Year for 2011 for his help in restarting the street newspaper locally.

For more information go here.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Drumplay to Host Daniel Thompson Fundraiser

Beachland Ballroom Will Assist Street Chronicle

Daniel Thompson was a member of Drumplay later in his life.  They are celebrating our 20th year as a working group; and they will take this occasion to honor Daniel's memory on April 1, 2012 at the Beachland Ballroom with Ernie Krivda.   Part of the funds go to the Cleveland Street Chronicle, which Daniel was a frequent contributor.  

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Recovery Resources Wins National Award

Employment and Addiction Issues

Recovery Resources, a member of NEOCH and partner in the struggle to find stability for those with mental illness, alcoholism, drug and other addictions, will be awarded the Lilly Reintegration Award in the field of employment services from the National Council of Behavioral Health on April 16, 2012 at their Annual Conference. This national award celebrates the achievements of those in the community who dedicate themselves to improving the lives of individuals with serious mental illness. Recovery Resources was named the Honorable Mention winner and will be awarded $5,000.

For More information on this post go here.
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Voting Issue Back Before State Legislature

Second Try at Changing Voting Law?

We are going to start migrating to our new blog which is actually part of our new website.  So, this site will remain active as an archive, but will only have a summary of the issues for new entries.  We are in the process of migrating to the new site this week, so don't bookmark the new site yet.  The names of the pages are not set yet, and will likely change this week.

The Ohio State Legislators are taking up SB 295, the bill repealing HB 194, will be up for a committee vote (and probably headed to the Senate floor) on Wednesday.  If you remember, HB 194 dramatically changed the voting procedure in Ohio.  NEOCH and most advocates in the state opposed these changes, and helped to get the citizens of Ohio to be able to vote on this law.

For more information on this post go here.

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Cleveland Power Summit

Advocates Gather at St. Ignatius

We are going to start migrating to our new blog which is actually part of our new website.  So, this site will remain active as an archive, but will only have a summary of the issues for new entries.  We are in the process of migrating to the new site this week, so don't bookmark the new site yet.  The names of the pages are not set yet, and will likely change this week.

The advocacy world of Cleveland will gather at St. Ignatius High School this Saturday March 24, 2012 for the Cleveland Power Summit from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. To register and for more details go to the Organize!Ohio website. 

For more information go to our new blog on the NEOCH website.
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Former Governor Goes Undercover

New Jersey State Legislator Becomes Homeless for the Night

Former Governor and current State Senator Richard Codey dressed up as a homeless guy and visited the shelters in Newark.We had a County Commissioner stay in the shelter in the mid 2000s.  Unlike Peter Lawson Jones's visit to the shelter, Governor Codey found serious problems with the shelter system in Newark.  He found that a mentally ill person is turned away from nearly every shelter in the community.  This would not be an issue in Cleveland since we have guaranteed access to shelter, but there are other problems that the Commissioner should have found.  The only thing that Jones reported was that there were not any condiments. 

Most shelters in the United States screen out those who are different.  They restrict those who are drunk, transsexuals, mentally ill, those with a criminal background, or those who have male children over 12.  Shelters often times force people to change to fit into their system.  In most cities, they screen out as many people as they help.  The Governor found out about these problems and is going to work to change the shelter system in Newark.  We need some politician in Cleveland to dress up and stay a couple of days in the shelters in Cleveland.  They could see the staff who don't really want to work with homeless people and should be freed from this burden through termination.  They could see the problems with food and a lack of special diets for those with diabetes and those with food allergies.  They could see how the shelters attempt to convince people to go back where they came from.  This politician could see the problems with theft and the overcrowded conditions.  The could see how the rules change frequently and how there is no independent oversight of the local shelters.  What are you and Frank doing next Sunday, FitzGerald? 

All taxpayers think that if the worst happens to them there is a place to go for help.  They incorrectly believe that there is emergency housing is available or emergency rent money can be found or that the safety net is not full of holes.  They believe that they could find a space in a shelter for their husband and three children.  It is a miracle if an intact family can find shelter without having to spend time broken up. We applaud a politician taking the time to find out how the services they support are doing in their community. 

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Annual Meeting 2012

Homeless Coalition to Host Annual Meeting, Focus on Homeless Veterans

      The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless will host its 2012 Annual Meeting in the NEOCH Conference Room on March 15, 2012 at 5:30 p.m... The Annual Meeting is a chance to reflect on accomplishments made during 2011, release its Annual Report, and prepare strategy for the next year in our effort to end homelessness. NEOCH intends to give out awards to those who have made outstanding contributions to forwarding the Coalition’s mission and worked to end homelessness. This year’s meeting will also serve to spotlight the issue of homeless veterans.
      Recently, the federal government has made homeless veterans a priority and has allocated many resources to ending this crisis. Toni Johnson, of the Veterans Administration and longtime friend of NEOCH, will give the keynote address on new strategies and programs in place for serving homeless veterans in Cleveland.
         All are welcome to attend. The meeting will take place at 5:30 PM and a light meal will be served. NEOCH is located at 3631 Perkins Ave., Cleveland (Between Chester and Payne Ave.).  We ask those who plan to attend to RSVP. 
Brian and Volunteer Lauren
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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Homeless Congress Next Week

Transformational Art at Cosgrove Center
State Officials to Meet with Homeless Individuals Focus on Shelter and Jobs

Cleveland, OH-The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless along with the Homeless Congress will host elected officials from the state legislature to hear concerns that include shelter standards, funding for shelters, transportation, and more access to housing in general.  The meeting is Thursday March 15, 2012 at 1 p.m. at the Cosgrove Center gymnasium. 
      The Homeless Congress, a group of members of the homeless community and their advocates, meets monthly to address the needs of homeless individuals and to bring those issues in front of County, State elected officials, and the media. It consists of two representatives from each Cleveland shelter and six from the 2100 Lakeside Men’s Shelter and three from the Norma Herr Shelters.  It is organized by members of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
      While the State does fund a small amount of the budget for the local shelters, this funding has not changed in over a decade while the amount of people requiring shelter and assistance continues to increase. Though the problem of homelessness is overwhelming and funding is difficult to come by, the Homeless Congress has narrowed down some specific and immediate problems that with some attention could provide a small step in the right direction.
      The topic at the forefront will be that of our shelters, and making certain that they are abiding (and have the means to abide) by uniform health and safety standards. Additionally, transportation needs to be made more available, so that people needing to travel to job interviews and landlord interviews can do so safely. A special concern deals with housing, specifically for families due to the sharp increase in family homelessness during the downturn.  Due to overcrowding, the entry women’s shelters has been forced to close during daytime hours.  The Congress will also be asking for assistance in putting job-training programs in place that specifically serve homeless people, helping individuals to assess and improve work skills so that they may find gainful employment.
      This month’s Homeless Congress meeting will be held on March 15, at 1:00 PM  at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, 1736 Superior Ave.  (enter in the back and go to the second floor.)
      The State Elected Officials scheduled to attend the meeting include:
  • Ohio Representative Sandra Williams,
  • State Senator Shirley Smith,
  • State Senator Mike Skindell,
  • State Senator Nina Turner.
     The Homeless Congress looks forward to giving the local homeless community a voice at a state level. The meeting is open to the public and those wishing to support the Northeast Ohio Homeless Coalition as well other local elected officials are encouraged to attend.

Brian and Lauren the volunteer
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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Comedy Show Feature on Homelessness

HUD Secretary on the Daily Show

What does it say about the major media that a good solid discussion about homelessness is done on the Daily Show?   Last night, Shaun Donovan appeared on Jon Stewart's Daily Show, and for 10 minutes we got to hear about homelessness and poverty on national television.  For clarification, this is a comedy show, and there was a real discussion about the huge increase in family homelessness and the number of children that find themselves homeless.   Now there are a few things that need clarified with regard to the interview that were just spin and not based in reality, but the bottom line it was nice to hear the discussion. 

  • Everyone who watches the show knows Jon Stewart is a New York Mets' fan.  Psst, Shaun, watch the show for a couple of weeks before appearing on it so you seem hip and with it. Never ask a Mets' fan if they are New York Yankee's fan.
  • We did not just figure out that housing was better than shelter even for the mentally ill.  We started closing down affordable housing back in the 1980s so what were we supposed to do?  Congregate living is cheaper than offering an apartment, medical care, food and case managers for every single person in need.  65,000 people declared themselves in need of housing when the Section 8 voucher list was opened.  We do not have the money or ability to serve that number of people, and so shelters are the best option when so many people are in need. If we had a national housing strategy, we would not need shelters in the United States. If we supported our voucher programs, our public housing and HUD housing with the the same zeal that we fund the Defense Department there would be no homelessness in America.  Unfortunately, we do not and so we have opened shelters to prevent people from dying on the streets.  The only way that it is cheaper to offer housing instead of shelter, is if the resident can contribute to the rent.  So, if you can return the person to the workforce quickly and they start paying rent then housing is cheaper than shelter.  Otherwise a bed in a shelter is way cheaper than an apartment.  
  • The 20% decrease in veterans homelessness is BOGUS!!!  Just read the report that HUD published and see all the qualifiers at the beginning of the report.  They are using estimates of estimates.   They are using a one night count that is done well in some places, but barely done in other places.  It is like asking store clerks at Walmart and the local Shell stations to do a one night count to come up with the US population in the Census.  These numbers are not real for veterans.  If we cannot even figure out how many veterans are homeless how are we supposed to solve the problem by 2015?
  • "We are going to raise the amount we spend on homelessness by 15%" according to Donovan.  This is only if Congress agrees to the President's budget, and that does not take into account the decrease in funding for other services that homeless people rely on.  It does not make sense to increase funding on homelessness at the same time as you decrease money for vouchers or eliminate homeless prevention spending.  If housing is no longer affordable and poverty increases, where do these people go except to the shelters?  There are massive cuts to housing and the end of the stimulus while at the same time increasing homeless funding by a small amount.  There is no comparison between the two--rental assistance is being cut by the billions while homeless funding is going up in the millions. Donovan's statement only tells a small part of the story.
  • People are not chronic.  People may have a chronic disease, but homelessness is not contagious.  
  • The stimulus no doubt helped millions avoid shelter, and the administration should be praised for pushing for these funds.  But what was not mentioned was that these funds are ending this summer.  With the housing system still a mess, what are we going to do going forward?  There are going to be more and more families struggling who can't keep up their payments and will turn to the shelters.  We are not going to have eviction money available to these families. 
  • The settlement money discussion:  Why didn't our leading newsman in America, Jon Stewart, ask why they have not solved this foreclosure crisis in the last three years?  This voluntary program has not worked, and when is the administration going to go after these banks to write down these loans to stabilize the housing market?  $26 billion is chump change for the instability in the housing sector.  This was fraud that took place and we need a settlement of $2.6 trillion to clear out the abandoned houses in America and make a down payment on rebuilding our cities.  
There was a second part of the interview that was not broadcast, but placed on the Daily Show website.  A couple of comments from the bonus material.
  • A legitimate question about the total number of homeless people was avoided by Donovan with an answer dealing with the Complete Count on one day.  As we have said before, counting on one day the number of people living without homes is like trying to count the number of Skittles falling in the rainbow while watching the commercial.  It is so flawed that it is a meaningless number.  It does not give us a window into homelessness or even give an assessment of the funds used by Congress to address homelessness.  It is a giant waste of time. 
  • Yes, there are a lot of children who are becoming homeless, and why doesn't HUD consider the child sleeping on a sofa at a friends house to be homeless? They have this complicated list of questions to determine homelessness and there are millions in America who do not qualify by HUD as being homeless.  It was nice to hear that Donovan and the President are focused on the poverty figure, which is more accurate than the figure regarding homelessness.  
  • Having a national discussion about the causes of solutions of poverty is always good, but why does it have to happen on a comedy show?
  • "Get sober and we will find a place for you."  The Housing First strategy is great, but if you have 8,000 people using the shelters in Cleveland and you build 100 units of housing a year, how many years will it take to solve this problem at that rate? 
Thanks to the Daily Show for featuring this debate, but sometimes you need a translator to cut through some of the spin from government officials.

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Vendor Mark Read Passes

West Side Market Vendor Dies on Friday

Mark Read had sold the paper for years including both the Grapevine and the Street Chronicle, and was a previous staff member at University Settlement.  He died on Friday evening after attending our every other week vendor meeting and after working his shift at the West Side Market on Friday March 2nd in the afternoon.  His wake will be on Thursday at Golubski Funeral Home in the the afternoon.  We believe that Mark died after a fall down the stairs, but we could not find a death notice in the paper to link to this story. We do not have an official cause of death at this time. He had just gotten over a sickness that had kept him away from selling the paper, but he was back last week.   Mark was always quiet and respectful to customers and other vendors.  He did write a story which will appear in the next issue of the paper.  He had a rough time in life with lots of struggles to overcome.   

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Cleveland Power Summit

Working Together to End Poverty

On Saturday March 24, 2012 at St. Ignatius High School on Lorain and West 30th St.  from 8:30 a.m  to 3 p.m. most of the communities advocacy and social justice groups will gather for the Cleveland Power Summit.  Organize Ohio is hosting this event to lay out an agenda for housing, heatlh care, environmental justice, education, children's issues, and living wage jobs.  They will hear concerns from the community and plan a strategy for change.   They will feature a free breakfast and lunch.  There are about 40 social justice groups co-sponsoring the event.  To register go to the Organize Ohio website

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

New Study from ICPH

African Americans Over-represented in the Homeless Population

With the submission of annual data by the shelters to HUD, it provides good solid information for researches to pick over and present to the world.  This data is horrible for counting the number of homeless people in America, which ironically was the original purpose of forcing every shelter to submit.  But it does give excellent information on the demographics using the shelters in the country. So, the Intitute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness has looked at 2010 data and found that African Americans are disproportionately represented in shelters throughout the United States. 
"In 2010, one out of every 141 black family members stayed in a homeless shelter, a rate seven times higher than members of white families, according to “Intergenerational Disparities Experienced by Homeless Black Families,” a report released today by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness."
Three times as many African American families were living in poverty compared to white families.  African Americans are impoverished at 23.3% while white families only have 12% of their total population living in poverty in the United States.   The report looks at various cities how many are experiencing homelessness including St. Louis and New York City with over 90% of their 2010 homeless population black.  Cleveland's African American population was listed as the high 90%, but the County reports a figure around 80% for 2010 and 2011.  The figure is so high it raises some troubling questions. Why hasn't the first African American president talked much about homelessness or poverty when there is this huge disparity among minority populations?  Why aren't the national civil rights organizations more involved in the struggle to end homelessness?  Why isn't this issue ever discussed by social service providers or part of the planning to serve the population?  Why are African Americans so overly represented in the homeless population and Hispanic/Latino populations so under represented? 

What policy initiatives can we put in place when dealing with evictions using these statistics?  What does this tell us about prevention if African Americans are so overly represented in the shelters?  How do we change intake with the knowledge that African Americans are disproportionately represented in the beds of the shelters?  How do we set guidelines for diversion if we know that African Americans make up such a large number of homeless people?  These are disturbing number, but what do we do with them?

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Homeless Youth on MTV

On MTV, yes, MTV is still a channel--no music, but still a TV station, this Friday they are featuring a documentary about homeless young people looking for a break from someone.  It is from U2's The Edge comes 'The Break' - an inspirational documentary that follows three diverse young people who are currently without a home. It airs on Friday, March 2 at 8/7c on MTV.   There is original music from the Edge as part of the show. Three kids are featured, each of whom gets "a break" to help them find their places in the world. Here is the trailer for the documentary

As with most cable, it will most likely air repeatedly check your local listings. 
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