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This blog is dedicated to distribute current information about the Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland or poverty or the state of homelessness. Entries are written by board or staff of the Coalition. The opinions contained in this blog reflect the views of the author of the post. This blog features information on shelters, affordable housing, profiles, statistics, trends, and upcoming events relating to homelessness. We welcome comments, and will remove offensive or inappropriate messages. All postings are signed by the author.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle
Jim Schlecht Event

Is Democracy Broken in Cuyahoga County?

This is my testimony for May 3, 2017 County Council Meeting.  Here is a link to my comments (It is 42 minutes into the video).   You only get 3 minutes and there is a shot clock that counts down.  These written comments have more information that I did not have time to say under the clock. 

In my opinion, Democracy is not working in Cuyahoga County with this horrendous process for reforming the Women's Shelter.  We have not seen the County Council step up to their oversight authority to make changes in the shelter.  We have yet to see the County implement legislation that improves the lives of people County wide, and we have seen some of the mistakes that the County Commissioners made with over reliance on County staff.  What did we get for all the changes made to transform the County government beside a beautiful new building? 

The County council is not acting like a legislative body with oversight authority, but instead like a rubber stamp for the Executive.  There is still no oversight of the $30 million going to homeless services and no Ombudsman for all the County services.  There were hundreds of protesters against the Q Deal and yet we saw no change in the deal that would help those struggling to survive in this County.  We could use a massive expansion of detox beds, or a law for every landlord in the County that prevents them from not accepting a housing voucher, or more services to families struggling with their housing. 

In the past 20 years, homeless services and housing assistance has grown dramatically, but we have not provided additional oversight of county services that are failing taxpayers who fall on hard times.  We have shut down 400 beds of shelter during the County Council era without a vote of our elected officials.  They have never voted to support Permanent Supportive Housing over emergency services, and have never even talked about a plan for how to serve the dramatic increase in family homelessness.

Now, you are approving a shelter contract with all these well documented issues.   You have all the facts available to you, but you did not take them into account when making this decision.   Does anyone within the County use Google to search the web and hear what clients are saying about the services funded by the County?  There are thousands of words available on our website or you could ask for the facts from County staff. Look at:

  1. Length of stay between two providers who currently operate a shelter.
  2. Why did no one ask about the overcrowded conditions without a solution?
  3. How about the hundreds of unanswered complaints from one provider?
  4. Large number of EMS/Police Calls with 2 per day at women’s shelter while Metanoia (a partner in the West Side Catholic Shelter) had 5 the whole winter.
  5. The recidivism rate for those who return to the shelter or discharges to homelessness by each of the providers.
  6. Or did anyone ask about the suicide attempts at each of the shelters?

With all this information, you are still recommending an inferior provider to continue to manage the shelter.  You are not even saving the County money with the Frontline proposal which is requesting more money from the County compared to the West Side Catholic proposal.  You have plenty of anecdotal information on the NEOCH website and in the media.  We also found that two of the County Council members stayed at the shelter and saw the overcrowded conditions and the inability for many disabled people to not find help.  Councilwomen Conwell and Brown made some solid recommendations after their visit and none of those changes have been implemented.  NEOCH and the women sat with staff at Frontline and all we got was the ability to bring food inside the shelter.  The shelter has done very little to improve over the last decade and they are being rewarded with a three year contract with more funding.

You had hundreds of complaints submitted that do not get an answer and a petition drive in support of West Side Catholic.  You had the House on Payne website detailing all the problems.   You had the 9 brave women who risked eviction to testify and talk to Channel 5 over the last year and speak to you last May.  All of this is why I say that democracy is broken in Cuyahoga County. 

I have a few questions that I hope get answered today by the Council:

  1. 78% of the women who sleep in the Women's shelter are African American so was it fair to have a committee that gave Frontline the contract made up of 8 white people?
  2. Was it fair to have two individuals on that committee with a long history of involvement with Frontline and not West Side Catholic?
  3. Will there be any additional oversight or special conditions placed in the contract by the County to assure that they reform the shelter? 
  4. Will the County start taking complaints about the shelter to assure that an impartial entity is taking complaints?
  5. So, with all these problems, do you not believe the residents or do you not care about their concerns?

A house divided cannot stand and these two agencies have a fundamental different philosophy for serving homeless people.  Will the Lutheran Metro Ministry staff be able to work with the Frontline staff and what will that mean for the already sour relationship with the residents?  You are now adding this uncertainty to an already volatile situation. There is going to be a tragedy over there it is just a matter of time.  Who in the County will take responsibility for the trouble that is coming?

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Michael Stoops Memorial In Cleveland

 Michael Stoops of the National Coalition for the Homeless passed away on May 1, 2017.  We posted a rememberance of him on our blog here.  As part of the Open Door CLE event in Cleveland, NEOCH will host a memorial for Michael Stoops on May 27 at the Free Stamp at 1:30 p.m.   Please come to remember the life of this fallen social justice champion. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry


Ramona's Comments to County Council on Women's Shelter

 I’ve been coming to the Council Meetings pouring out my heart to let you know that the conditions at Norma Herr are terrible.  Since I was at the last meeting there has been another suicide attempt and there is a resident that goes there on and off because she doesn’t feel safe. Instead, she will sometimes sleep outside.  She feels she has a better chance of not getting robbed on the street as opposed to inside the shelter and she doesn’t trust the staff.  When she does stay there, she sleeps in the hall close to the officer on duty.  She was recently punched in the face by someone and she still will not stay at the shelter.

 The current provider has been informed repeatedly about numerous problems at the shelter and LMM acts like its rocket science to prepare decent meals for the shelters.  I can’t understand how either of these providers could realistically get the contract to provide services to the women’s shelter instead of the Westside Catholic Center, Metanoia, and NEOCH who have been reaching out to this population for years.  This population also trust all three of these organizations.  The request for a new provider was done as an alternative if Frontline didn’t meet the much needed requests made by the women over a year ago. 

 The Renovations even prove the lack of consideration for the women by the current provider and as an ex-resident of the shelter, the decision to let the current provider continue to provide this unservice is quite disturbing.  I came to reach out to the council one more time to ask them to take the women into consideration first, being this is the only shelter for single women in the entire city and they still don’t even have a television.

by Ramona Turnbull

Posts reflect the opinion of the person who signed the entry


Women's Shelter Update May 2017

Wow, a lot has happened over the last two weeks with regard to the Community Women's Shelter on Payne Ave.  First, Dale Miller objected to a 3 year contract back at the hearing on May 3rd because of all the problems he heard about at the Homeless Congress.  He raised serious questions with Frontline by asking them to come to the front to answer those questions.   He made Eric Morse COO of Frontline Services come up and explain why the women’s shelter is so lowly regarded and their are so many complaints.  There were questions about the EMS calls, the lack of help for the mentally ill, and how this new partnership will work.  Eric said for the first time that almost all the women are either addicted or mentally ill and they just don’t have enough money.  Ruth Gillett Director of the Office of Homeless Services said that the complaint to the Inspector General over the process was found to be without merit.  (We will seek that complaint through an open records request).  In the end, the contract was redrawn to go from 31 months down to 19 months.  It was expected to be passed last Tuesday May 9 at the regular council meeting. This was a good meeting to watch on line, but it is three hours long so here is the run down:

  • 39 minutes 51 seconds:  Ramona Turnbull testifies about the conditions
  • 43 min 22 sec: Brian Davis testifies about all the problems with the Request/Contract
  • 46 min 37 sec: Rosie Palfy testifies
  • 54 min 10 sec: C. Loh once again talks about all the problems at the shelter
  • 1 hour: 54 min 02 sec:  Ruth Gillett gave her presentation and powerpoint of the Women's Shelter contract.
  • 2 hr 09 min 13 sec: Councilwoman Conwell comments on NEOCH and Brian Davis.  She mentioned it was disheartening to hear about the treatment of their director.  She claimed that this process was only after listening to the women.  She claimed that this was going to help the shelter residents and they took the time to make this work.
  • 2 hr 21 min and 20 sec:  Dale Miller starts his questions of Ruth Gillett
  • 2 hr 29 min and 54 sec: Dale Miller begins questioning Frontline Services staff.

Then the following week at the Council meeting, Dan Brady said, "We are going to send this back to the Health and Human Services committee to straighten out this legislation."    He sent it back to the Health and Human Services committee, which is highly unusual.  We heard that there were private discussions about extending the contract by only 4 months and just starting over. In the end, the contract was extended until the end of December 2017 with a new RFP issued soon. 

It turns out there was a provision in the RFP that said that a group had to get an 85 score to be "technically responsive."  The legal department said that since neither West Side Catholic nor Frontline Services got the 85 so the County could not proceed.  They have decided to go forward with an 8 month contract to expire December 31, 2017 for Women’s Shelter.  It will be the LMM/Frontline proposal but only through December.  They will issue a new RFP soon without the 85 score minimum provision in the grant.  So, Loh going to County Council every couple of weeks and talking about the poor conditions worked.  Dan Brady showed up at the May 16 Health and Human Services Committee when Ruth Gillett announced the eight month contract, and said that he wanted Council to stay informed throughout the process to avoid any future issues. 

NEOCH is going to press for a whole new committee that meets with the residents of both or all bidders. We also are going to press for an RFP that addresses the real issues facing the shelter.   It was a remarkable turn around.  It had to be humiliating County staff to see three County Councilmembers criticize the process and the outcome.  Ruth Gillett, the Director of Office Homeless Services was very defensive and respectively pointed out that she would have to start the process almost immediately if the committee approved a one year contract.  Gillett did not show up for the Homeless Congress because she said that she was so abused by the residents in April. 

We raised a couple of problems with the process over the last few months:

  1. 1. The RFP asked the applicants to answer questions that have nothing to do with addressing all the problems at the shelter.  "What is your understanding of the project?"  It is offering a bed and some food not a moon landing.  No questions around what are you going to do about overflow; or the huge number of EMS calls; staff mistreatment; a lack of effective grievances; and the inability to keep women safe.
  2. The committee that was designed to make the recommendation on who administers the shelter was all white in 2017.  The shelter houses 78% African Americans but the County appointed an all white committee to make the decision. 
  3. The committee never spoke to the women living in the shelter to hear their concerns.
  4. The committee obviously did not do a simple Google search on the conditions at the shelter.  They could have read thousands of words on the problems and issues associated with the shelter.
  5. The committee that made the decision had an intimate relationship with the current provider, but very little with West Side Catholic or Metanoia.  They were deciding between a close friend and a virtual stranger to run the shelter. 
  6. There was no plan for how to provide services to this deeply fragile population including the re-entry, mentally ill and addicted group trying to find help.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.



NEOCH Suggests You Support Joseph's Home

Perseverance in Hope: The 2017 Joseph’s Home Benefit Luncheon will take place June 15 at Windows on the River. All funds raised will help acutely ill homeless men in Northeast Ohio regain their health and heal their lives.

Dan Moulthrop of The City Club of Cleveland will serve as emcee and moderator of a panel discussion.

Please consider a gift in support of the Perseverance in Hope 2017 silent auction. Contributions from friends like you helped us to raise more than $5,000 in the 2016 silent auction and raffle.

All auction item donors will be acknowledged on the bid sheets for their items. Donors will also be listed in the event program book, website and slide show (donation must be pledged by June 3, 2017 to guarantee listing).

Any contribution you can make will be deeply appreciated and will make a huge difference for the men of Joseph’s Home.  Here is a link to the event for more information.

P.S. Your gift in support of the Perseverance in Hope 2017 silent auction will help raise funds to provide vital healing care for the acutely ill homeless men of Joseph’s Home. Thank you for your consideration!

Brian Davis