The Art of Transformation While Homeless in Cleveland

Commentary by Crystal

The Community Women’s Shelter in Cleveland is a shelter located here near downtown and beside Cleveland State University.  It is a place of refuge for women who have lost their homes due to a facet of reasons.  Believed to be a beacon of hope and to evoke change in many women’s lives.  The Art of Transformation is the ideology behind taking refuge at a homeless shelter.  To discover what is inside of self.  This takes place by paying attention to yourself.  This also takes place by paying attention to what you are exposed too.  A person cannot find out what they are drawn to unless they are exposed to it.  Taking refuge at a shelter is designed to create opportunity and resources for a person who has been oppressed or maybe just down on their luck.

Instead, homeless service providers, employees and homeless clients, and /or victims, engage in bullying, disrespect, mental abuses, constructing barriers, inconveniences, and injustices.  IT CANNOT GO ON THIS WAY!  From a home to homeless, and then homelessness and depression when living in the shelter instead of having hope and another chance.  I cannot believe the homeless shelter treat people like animals.  The reason I know, is because I experienced it firsthand.  I do not understand how the City of Cleveland will ever be prosperous when citizens do not make a conscious effort to help their city’s homeless women.

These women have been enslaved.  Most of them believing that slavery only came in the form of white men to black men slavery day and time.  Most women, approximately 90 percent living in the homeless shelters have experienced trauma due to, again, a facet of reasons.  The homeless shelter is supposed to be a place of refuge providing security and safety.  The shelter however, is a living nightmare because of the abuse experienced in this facility. [Editor’s Note: There is only one shelter available to single women now that we have closed the other facilities]. Most women if not all the women, do not want to be there due to the lack of care from staff and providers.  Women become very ill at the shelter due to the poor conditions of the facility because it is not being cleaned and disinfected properly and the fact that it is overcrowded every night.  The shelter is hosed down by maintenance.  It’s kept like it is a barnyard. 

Food for thought is important when creating and thinking of ways to get out of the shelter and into a home.  No client there receives good daily nutrition in order to keep the mind at high functioning levels.  Homelessness and depression, whether situational or clinical are the reoccurring events at the shelter.  Women who stay at the shelter are self-medicated when it comes to health ailments and sickness. Some of these women do not take their prescribed medicines because they feel they just do not need it and there are not enough health care professionals at the shelter.  In order to receive housing vouchers or funds, one must have one of the following ailments :   1) A disability (mental health or some other documented disability) 2) A total of one year of homelessness.  The homeless shelter is there to provide for “all” women, but can only offer housing help to a few women. 

Women at the shelter are treated like animals instead of human beings.  There is no place for a woman to rest when she is sick.  Everyone must be out of the building by 8 am and cannot return until 3pm.  Unless the woman is a third shift worker or grabs one of the limited stay in beds, then she is permitted to stay in.

Building relationships with staff members can be difficult because of a lack of care for their jobs by staff members of the shelter.  This shelter needs to become the beacon of light to women it was created to be.  To provide hope and another chance at receiving a home and a new found life.  The Art of Transformation needs to be the ideology in helping homeless women recover, grow and become productive citizens in this society.  Cleveland citizens need to take a stand and pride in helping homeless people.  Feeding the poor and helping homeless people is great economics.  Programs need to be put in place and implemented inside the facility to help with the reconstruction of homeless women’s lives.  A new facility and new staff members with pure and not corrupt or hard hearts needs to be designed, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY! 

In conclusion, I hope for more at the Community Women’s Shelter in Cleveland.  In my heart, I know this facility can and may become great with due diligence from service providers, staff and actual clients living at the shelter.  In order for a city to survive, thrive, and become prosperous, we as a people have to have a certain level of sincerity and care in our heart for the homeless and poor.  If we do not find a way to cure this epidemic.  We will only become another Detroit, Michigan, bankrupt and an impoverished and divided city and people.

Can women living under these conditions really be considered “enslaved”, especially if they do not have anywhere else to go?

Do you think that the city has a responsibility to help the homeless?

Editor’s Note:  Crystal took part in the Mock Ribbon Cutting and ground breaking in which residents envisioned a better smaller shelter which served their needs.

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

If the Republican Party Wins the Election…

Commentary by Raymond Jacobs

In my opinion, if the Republican Party controls all branches of government there will be no Medicare and Medicaid or any other medical benefits for poor people. When the nursing homes can’t get paid the residents will be thrown out on their gurneys and in their wheelchairs.

In my opinion, there won’t be no food stamps so people will be starving and there will be no money for food banks.  Social security will end or be reduced and no disability payments so what will the poor people live off of? There won’t be too many good jobs if Republicans control all branches of government. What will happen when people get too old to work?

I urge you to make your own decisions by studying the candidates before you vote.  When you go vote make sure you know who you are voting for and know the issues you are voting on. Also know the history of the party you are voting for, the whole history and not just part of it.    

Editor’s Note: Raymond is a vendor of the paper and has previous experience with homelessness.  The opinions expressed by the author of this article are his alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Street Chronicle or NEOCH. These are the opinions of one vendor of the paper.

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio


Things I Tried and Things He Made Around Holidays

By Michael Boyd

I tried to be a bully, He made me weaker.

I tried to be a drug addict, He made me sick.

I tried not to be a father, He made the kids be around me.

That brings me to talk about the holidays.  Good Friday, I went to work and was able to buy my ham and some Easter candy for my family.  Even though I wasn’t feeling well, I still did it with a smile.  Come Easter Sunday, I spent all my money.  As the whole day was going on, and I am surrounded by my kids (4 girls), I can’t help but to remember the people who weren’t there.  They passed on, my brothers and sisters.

The next day I woke up with a somewhat heavy heart.  Selling the papers, praying that I at least make $10.00 in the rain.  Then a guy came up and gave me a $100.00 bill!  Even though I tried to be sad that day and have a heavy heart, God would not let me do that.  It wasn’t so much about the money, which it helped, it was the fact that he said that “God made

him do that”. 

It is a pleasure to be working at the West Side Market and I get joy out of doing the paper.  It’s not so much about the money.  It’s God that allows me to work up there.  

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Changing of the Guard in Washington

Commentary by Buzzy

Here we are once again at the threshold of another four year journey. Who will stand tall and who will fall? The Republicans think that the country has gone as far down the hole of despair that is humanly possible, and Obama hasn’t done anything worthwhile since he became the lame duck president.

John Kasich says he has the answer to restoring America to a real economic power again, just like he has done for the state of Ohio. Ted Cruz says he has the answer to bringing America back to a real power house.  Marco Rubio, claimed that he was somewhat in the middle of the road and he got run over. And the King of the Republicans seems to be is Mr. Donald Trump.

Trump says he can do everything for the country that needs to be done, including deporting all the Hispanics, barring Muslims and anybody else who is an immigrant. He claims that he can take us out of our economic dilemma as well, but he himself has had four businesses go bust. And let’s send more troops to get rid of those Islamic Barbarians. Everyone wants to send more Young Americans who are poor to shed blood for America while their sons and daughters reap the benefits of their effort.

Let’s go back to the Draft where everyone is available to be called to war to defend America. A fellow vendor says the Republican Party is for the Rich, Famous, and K.K.K. Whatever, it will be the changing of the guard.

I will not just make this one sided--the Democrats also have a couple of candidates. There’s the new kid on the block, Bernie Sanders, who says he has the answer to America’s problems by leaning as far left as the country can stand. And Mrs. Hillary Clinton is trying to become the first female to lead this great nation the United State of America. One thing is sure there will be a Changing of the Guard! 

To be continued in July in Cleveland at the RNC Convention.

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Vendor Comes Back After a Rough Patch

By Dolores Manley

First of all I want to apologize to the vendors, especially Artie and Tammy. I’d also like to thank Brian Davis, who has, since September been telling me what to do in order to come back to the paper.

The paper is my livelihood, and I get excellent sales as a vendor. I am not relying on welfare or government assistance. The paper keeps me in a home, and I have food on the table, due to the paper. I’m also able to house and feed my cats, too.

The paper gives me something to do, during the day, and being 56 ½ years old, I need all the exercise I can get. The paper keeps me healthy. The paper keeps me busy. I am not laying around the house all day and eating every five minutes. When people who have a job see me selling the paper, sometimes I hear them say “Get a real job.” I just show my badge, and tell them “This is a real job! I can get suspended or fired just like other job. I am a vendor. I am selling a product, not just collecting change.”

Sometimes local celebrities buy the paper, and even a homeless man will give me a nickel. A part of the money goes to charity, it shows on the paper. Those who are out there looking for a job, or if you know anyone 18 or older, looking for a job or a summer job before going to college, this paper will be a good job. Also, if you are being laid off and you can still collect unemployment benefits, this will not hurt your income.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

What Would I Do If My Health Were Better?

by Jennifer Black

Sometimes I think about how my life could be better. Alone, I tend to lay around and not do much, which is part of the reason why I enjoy working at the West Side Market.

In my perfect world, I would spend more time with my grandbaby. My daughter is going through some tough times, and I’d just like to be able to spend more time with my grandson. When I have something to do, like be with my grandson, I don’t think so much about my health. Even though we don’t spend as much time as I’d like together, when we do get together, we enjoy going to the park; going to events downtown or the movies. These are things that brighten his day. Just to see him smile, makes me feel so good inside. I wish I could do more, but because of pain, I just don’t have the energy.  So, I just do what I can with him.

In my perfect world, I would work in the Healthcare field, preferably as a nurse. I like helping people and I’ve seen so many people who were neglected.  If I couldn’t be a nurse, then I’d like to be a Home Health Aide. I’d especially enjoy working with the elderly or with children. They really need people who care about, and care for them. Unfortunately, due to health issues of my own, I’m unable to be a nurse, but I am a vendor of the Street Chronicle at the West Side Market. Working at the Market takes a lot of stress off of me and it gives me something to look forward to doing. I don’t have the time to think about the pain I may be in. I love seeing my regular customers and I enjoy meeting new people. They brighten my day and I hope I bring joy to their day.

In my perfect world, I would have the periodic aches and pains people have, not pain related to cancer and emphysema. I would wake up and have a pain-free life.  I’d be able to travel all over the United States and perhaps go to Disneyworld. I’d love to be able to have a job where I could stand on my feet more and not be in constant pain. Even though I don’t have the job of my dreams, I do have a job, with flexible scheduling, that allows me to get out of the bed and have a better life. Alone, I tend to lay around and not do much, which is part of the reason why I enjoy working at the Market.

In April, The West Side Market will be open on Sundays. That will give me another day to enjoy being and working at the West Side Market, and meeting more good people.

God Bless You All!

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio


My Father Was a Firefighter and Vendor of the Paper

by Artie Jr.

My father lived in Columbus, Ohio.  His parents passed away and he began working as a fire fighter.  He came to Cleveland and then went to Sandusky where he met my mother, a small Italian woman who would feed anybody.  He married her and later had me.

We moved to Parma where they bought a house and later lost it.  He then left Parma and came back to Cleveland where he started working for Volunteers of America and bought another house.  They had 4 more children besides me: Becky, Betty, Tina and later, they had my brother, Tommy.  Tina passed away from what I believe was a brain aneurism.

Things got a little rough.  He left the Volunteers of America and came to NEOCH and began selling the Grapevine.  He really liked selling the papers and liked the people he met.  This is when the office was on W 25th  St.  Brian Davis was very helpful to me and my family. 

At that time, I was working at Goodwill and was accused of stealing.  After I left that job, my father introduced me to the paper and I began working as a vendor too. It was nice to go out and meet people.  If it wasn’t for NEOCH, I wouldn’t know what to do.

My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to wear a bag.  When my mother passed, my dad got weaker and weaker.  He was put in a nursing home. My sister came and took him home with her.  He died at her home.  Brian was very helpful during this time and came to visit my dad at the nursing home.  He was also a very good boss. I still enjoy being a vendor and the support I get from NEOCH.

Copyright Cleveland street chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Loitering Should Not Be a Crime in a Free Society

Commentary by Leslie Boyd

Loitering.  Trespassing.  Trespassing on a Motor Vehicle.  Open Container.  Disorderly Conduct.  Public Intoxication.  Misconduct on Public Transportation.  Panhandling.  Soliciting Donations.

For the first forty-five years of my life, I hadn’t gotten so much as a parking ticket.  Since February, 2013, however, I’ve been given citations for all of the above listed offenses.  At least once.

Why was I suddenly being ticketed so much?  What happened to my “live inside the law” kind of life?  Have I developed some sort of mental illness?  Am I going through my mid-life crisis?  Maybe.  But the catalyst is this:  I became homeless.

Homelessness is not a crime.  Just about everything you do when you’re homeless is.

If you sit or stand too long in one place, you’re Loitering.  If you sit on the grass at Cleveland State University (across from the Women’s Shelter), you’re trespassing.  If you lean against someone’s car, you’re trespassing on a Motor Vehicle.  (You shouldn’t lean on anyone’s car, true, but this ticket comes with a $5,000 bond.  So, make sure you appear in court!)  If you lose your I.D., you’ve become vagrant.

After a bitter winter, the first warm day (for many of us) calls for a beer or two.  You have nowhere inside to drink, though (because you have no home).  You find yourself at a bus stop, or on a park bench trying to sneak a drink.  You also find yourself with a ticket for Open Container.  Don’t try to talk your way out of it, either.  That will get you a ticket for Public Intoxication (trying to reason with an officer means you must be drunk!) and/or Disorderly Conduct.

I have no income and I often find myself needing bus fare.  (I’ve taken the HealthLine without a bus pass a few times.  That stopped when the RTA “police” gave me the ticket for Misconduct on Public Transportation. I’ve been known to ask people downtown for change for bus fare.  That’s considered Aggressive Panhandling. 

In the past, I’ve seen sign-holders on expressway off-ramps.  I decided to try that.  I’m not approaching people.  Drivers can choose to either help or ignore me.  My sign encourages safe driving and pleasant days.  I’m not hurting anyone, not bothering people.  No crime, right?  Wrong…Soliciting Donations.

I’m just lucky that the officers that write these tickets rarely appear in court.  Because even though homelessness is not a crime, just about everything I’ve done since becoming homeless is.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Advances in Technology for Sight-Impaired Being Tested

by Diane Robinson

I am 56 years old.  I have five children, three girls and two boys. I also have seven grandchildren, who I love to spend some Sundays with.  I love spending time with my family, but I am also a very independent and outgoing person.  I live on the west side of Cleveland in a senior citizen building, where there are different activities for us including Bingo.  I love spending time with my family.  I am a very outgoing person

I am also legally blind. I started losing my sight from my left eye when I was about 30-years-old, and gradually became totally blind over time. The hardest thing for me was getting around outside by myself, and at first, it was kind of scary traveling and walking alone.

I started losing my sight from my left eye at 30 years old and gradually became totally blind over time. It was thundering and lightening one night, when the power in my house went out. I fell asleep. When I woke up, I told my daughter to turn the lights back on. She told me that they were already on, but I was in darkness. We went to the emergency room.

Over the course of one year, I head a series of injections to my eyes, and my vision returned slowly. When the doctor suggested surgery. I agreed. If I had to go through the surgery again, I wouldn’t because, when I came out of the recovery room, my vision was almost totally gone again! I can detect shadows and light with my left eye, but can’t see anything with my right eye. If I had the option to

Learning how to get around on my own within the neighborhood has been my goal for the past 5 years since I became legally blind.

I go to the Cleveland Sight Center, two days a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am learning how to walk around, cook and use the computer and many other things I can learn, to help myself stay independent to do. The staff at the sight center is excellent to work with.  They help me with everything I need to do, in order for me to maintain my independence. 

One day at the Sight Center, my GED teacher read an article about advances in treating people with various levels of lost vision. When I thought about it, I realized that I had experienced two of the procedures highlighted in the article: the stem-cell injections and the gene therapy (the surgery). The other procedure, the Argus II or “bionic eye,” I had not experienced. This procedure is covered by Medicare in some, but if you don’t have insurance it costs $145,000.

It’s amazing what resources that are out there to help people with vision problems, especially blindness. I’ll keep looking for the doctor and the procedure(s) that can best help me to regain some of my sight.

I am not giving up!

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Vendor Talks About Good Experiences at MetroHealth

By Elizabeth Victor

I love MetroHealth Hospital on W 25th Street in Cleveland on the west side.  I love Metro because there are always nice to me.  I go there a lot and they help me with my medical problems.  I have been going there for 15 years now and only have good experiences.  I have always been treated well when I go there.

The doctors are nice and they will do anything to help you.  I get tests done and they give me the results and I can trust the doctors there with my health.   I go there and get my therapy and I have always had a great experience.  They helped me to get a boot to help with my flat feet so that I don’t lose my balance.  They are also helping me to get a lift built into my tennis shoes. 

In 1991, I had surgery done there and I would recommend this hospital to anyone who has health issues.

The hospital works well with all people regardless of whether they have money to pay or not.  The case workers will help you to get signed up for Medicaid insurance so that you will have medical coverage if you are poor.   There are many different Medicaid programs that you can choose from. The case workers will help you to sign up for free.  They will then give you a call and let you know if you qualify. 

They will help you if you need counselors to talk to you.  They will help you to get handicapped parking permits and they will help you with transportation services. They have vans that come and pick you up and take you home too. I would highly recommend this hospital and their doctors to anyone in need of medical services.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All Rights Reserved. 

Preying on Poor People Is the Basis of Many Local Businesses

By Kim Supermutt Goodman

If you take a walk or drive through low-income areas you will see how the value of a dollar is more valuable than the human life. In the low-income neighborhood the first thing you will notice that there are a lot of corner stores. These little independently ran stores carry a lot of items that are of convenience to the people in the area. Then there are the bigger one stop shops where everything is under one roof. Many have groceries, a state liquor agency, cell phones and any other item the owners feel the people within the community need. A lot also offer check cashing and bill payment services. Look a little farther and you’ll find gas stations that sell, gas, snacks, beer, wine, lottery and hot food. Small or big these stores of convenience make their owners rich but contribute to the poverty levels of many residents.

The stores are centered in a convenient area where the residents of the community can easily get there and they are open at hours that are convenient to the neighborhood. People can walk or ride their bikes there or it’s a short drive so the person saves time or gas. Anything that saves time, is too easy or provides instant comfort comes with a price, many times an expensive price. If a person gets off work at midnight and need a loaf of bread for their sandwich, the local grocery store is closed so they buy the loaf of bread at the corner store or gas station. At the grocery store the loaf of bread might be $1.29 but at the corner store or gas station it might be $2.49.

Here is an example of how these one stop shops operate. A young single mother just gets off work and picks her kids up from daycare. She’s tired and the kids are hungry so she heads over to one of these places. She stands in line to cash her check, a fee is taken out. Then she decides to pay a few bills and a fee is added. She gets a few groceries and since this is the only grocery store in the neighborhood the prices are slightly higher. While shopping for groceries the kids smell the hot food cooking and beg for it. The mother who is tired gives in and buys the hot food which adds an extra $20 to her grocery bill. Then on her way to the checkout line she sees a bottle of wine and gets it to relieve her stress.

If this type of store didn’t exist the young mother might have chosen to open a bank account where she could have cashed her checks without a fee and paid her bills through automatic bill pay or even chose to have her check direct deposited into her account. This could have saved her about $10. Saving $10 per month adds up to $120 per year. Then after the mother left the bank she could have gone to a major chain grocery store where she could have caught a sale or to a cheaper store like Aldi’s or Save-a-Lot and saved a little more money. She also could have gotten a better grade of wine and on the way home grabbed a pizza for the kids or purchased a healthy prepared meal at the bakery in the grocery store. Since the one stop convenience store does exist, the mother paid about an extra $50 for her one stop shopping trip.

The next type of business that exists in the low-income community is those store front pre-paid cell phone shops. Many stores also have a buy, sell and trade policy. If a person has a certain model of phone the store owner will buy it from them or offer them a certain level of credit towards a new phone. The amount of money or credit offered is usually a low amount. Then the owner of the store will unlock the phone, reprogram the phone or refurbish the phone and sell it at a much higher price. Some stores extend their services to tablets, iPads, iPods and mp3 players. A few stores added video game systems and laptops. The problem with these types of stores is that the phones that a person buys have no warranty. If the person buys a phone (which most of the time is a used phone) and it breaks in 6 months, the person has to buy a new phone. Many of these stores make their money by selling people phones that will break or become outdated in less than a year.

The third type of business you’ll see in the low-income neighborhood is payday loan businesses. These business offer people of all income levels the opportunity to borrow $100-$500 each pay period with a hefty interest fee. Then once you have developed a relationship with these companies they will offer to increase your loan amount. Many poor people fall victim to these businesses because there are times where they need extra money but don’t have anyone they can turn to for help. What usually happens is a person borrows the money, then pays it back, still needs the money so they take the same amount out again and it becomes a cycle. Some people find themselves needing extra money so they take out a second payday loan and the cycle continues.

The fourth type of business that exists in the low-income neighborhood is rental businesses. These types of businesses usually set up near apartment complexes. The owner of these businesses offer their customers furniture, appliances and electronics and let them rent to own. It sounds good, but it comes with a price. Sometimes the customer can pay up to three or four times the product’s actual cost. Here is an example of how this business works: picture a single person who just signed their lease after a period of homelessness. The person is restarting their life and only owns the clothes on their back and the items in their duffle bag. They want a bed, a couch, a TV and a microwave, but can’t afford it so they go to the rental business across the street. The rental business delivers a bed with a dresser and night stand (which was a part of a package deal), a TV with a stand and Blu-ray player and a microwave. Now the person must pay $100 a week for all their stuff for a whole entire year.

If you take a walk or drive through a higher income neighborhood you’ll see a different scene. You will see supermarkets, big box retailers, shopping centers, malls, restaurants and gas stations without chicken wings and fries. You’ll see independently standing cell phone companies from major companies like AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile. A lot of people move from the inner city to the suburbs in search of a better life, but businesses there take advantage of people too. The biggest rip off there is apartment complexes. A big multi-million dollar company buys a large apartment building or a series of buildings that can house 500 or more people. They rent the units out to people with jobs sometimes offering discounts if you are employed by certain companies. Some offer added amities such as an indoor pool or indoor parking and charge you a fee for a pool pass or a monthly parking rate. When a person chooses to rent from these companies their rent goes up a little each year when they renew their lease. If they are late on their rent, they get charged a fee.

If a person lives in a privately own apartment building the owner might work with them if they get sick and is off on medical leave. An independent property owner might be understanding and let a person break their 12 month lease if they lose their job and need to move. A big corporation will not. They will tell a person they can pay their rent late but there will be heavy fees involves. Then after the person goes back to work after recovering from an injury, illness or surgery, they have to work hard to pay their back rent and fees. If a person loses their job the big company doesn’t care. They will charge the person for the rent they missed along with the late fees and if the person move out and break their lease they will charge them big fees for breaking their lease and in some cases hold the person responsible for future rent. Then when the person is unable to pay, the large corporation sues them in court and waits until the person get another job so they can garnish their wages.

It is sad that we live in a society that values money over human life. I hope the next set of entrepreneurs and business owners develop a heart so they can see that human life is much more valuable than money.    

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Grievances Handled Poorly at the Women’s Shelter

Commentary by Ramona Turnbull

As an ex-resident of the Community Women’s Shelter, not to be rude, but I was greatly insulted by the response from Latonya Murray, who is the Director of Emergency Housing Services at Frontline, regarding the grievances that were forwarded to her.  NEOCH staff took time to hear grievances from residents whose complaints were being ignored at the shelter.  I was one of those residents until recently.

The grievances were about everything from shelter maintenance to protocol for bed rest. One complaint was about shelter maintenance concerns including toilets being stopped up on a regular basis.  The toilets being stopped up is not the staff’s fault or their main concern. The concern is that “we” as residents could not do anything about it.  Because it would happen so often, it would make sense that there would be “two plungers in each staff office” as Ms. Murray stated in her response.  However, if there were plungers in each office, staff did not acknowledge or provide them to the residents to use.  Needless to say, this caused major problems for the many women to use the few toilets available, be able to wash up or shower for the day.  It made it difficult to get dressed (some before going to work), and get off the floor by 8:00am to avoid punishment.

Also, “there was a leak” in room 220, as stated by Ms. Murray which neglected to acknowledge that there were leaks in other rooms, in the hallways, and directly into the room I was in. The leak caused water to come into the room on the floor where we were sleeping. This was reported numerous times and finally a resident threatened to call a television station before they were moved.  My biggest concern about this is once the tile fell in, no one did anything to replace the tile and allowed the water to leak in.  They then gave us a difficult time about giving us towels or a blanket or buckets and a mop to get it up so no one would have to walk in it.  The bathroom on the other side of the building leaked as you entered the bathroom so bad that we literally needed an umbrella to keep from getting wet. 

Murray’s response to the mat shortage was that some residents could not get two mats, when the actual concern was about residents not being able to get one mat and instead, sleeping in chairs, the floor, or a bench in the courtyard (in the summer).  Then there is what is referred to by her as the “food issue”. Undercooked chicken, rocks in the beans and concerns about the quality of the food is what she referred to. The truth of the matter is most of the time we played the “what is it game?” We rarely knew what was being served to us.  To make matters worse, no special diets were honored (for diabetics or vegetarians) and the staff expected us to eat the undercooked chicken or beans with rocks in it.

Finally, staff may be trained in customer service and trauma informed care, but common courtesy and respect is still a “real” issue.  It is like an infection that spreads throughout the staff and disrespect takes over their bodies.  Documentation for bed rest and special diets are not honored.  A second salad for a woman pregnant with twins (who is also “high risk”) that could not eat the main meal because it was so bad, was denied.  Small requests are not met like a cup of coffee before leaving for work early in the morning before breakfast is served, even though you have provided a schedule as requested or required. 

The staff is very insensitive to extreme conditions regarding health issues and this is very dangerous.  Please understand that the Community Women’s Shelter is very much needed for homeless women, but so is common courtesy, empathy, and some consideration. These are just as important and necessary.  So, again “not to be rude”, but the grievances presented to Ms. Murray are very real and desperately need to be properly addressed.  The heart of the problem is that Ms. Murray and other staff just do not believe the women at the shelter.  They do not investigate complaints and they do not respond in writing as the County demands.  Whatever the staff reports that is the gospel truth and residents are treated like criminals, liars and crazy people.  A little bit of kindness, consideration, and understanding goes a long way.  But the people in charge must change their negative attitude toward residents and take grievances seriously because this brings to light the “real” problems that exist.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

The Treatment of Homeless People is Much Better in Canada

By Ramona Turnbull

In Vancouver, British Columbia, there is a unique approach to homelessness that recognizes the “dignity and hope” of every person.  It is clear that here in the United States this is not the case.  How do you feel about homelessness?  Especially, in light of the fact that many people who were once middle class are now homeless due to the recent foreclosure crisis. 

A local charity in Vancouver, RainCity Housing, has created a campaign that uses five city bus benches referred to as a “transit bench” that transform into a temporary shelter.  In the daytime, it reads “This is a bench” and at night printed with UV and glow in the dark ink this same bench illuminates the words “This is a bedroom.”  Do you think this is a realistic way to address or accommodate homelessness or does it just encourage homelessness?

In the Cleveland area, there is one women’s shelter that is very overcrowded and to make matters worse transgender women are also placed in the same facility. This can be quite confusing and alarming to a lot of women, especially in a facility without regular enforcement of rules.  This is a new concept to many of the older women in the shelter who have never had any contact with people changing their sexual identity.  No one talked to the residents about the incorporation of trans women into the shelter.  The women share bathrooms and the doors and shower curtains are often broken.   They share bedrooms with 4 to 14 women sharing the same space.  There is very little privacy in the one women’s shelter in Cleveland. 

There are better much services for men and more “transitional housing “available for men in Cleveland and to the point homeless women’s needs seem to be ignored.  In Vancouver, there is a 10 story building called the Budzey (named after Lorna Budzey), that has 147 units; 106 for women which also include housing for transgender individuals and 41 units for “women led families.”  However this building uses gender and diversity as a learning tool.

There is also a Vancouver housing and support program for lesbian, gay, or bisexual youths (18-24).  They can choose between a 4 bed communal houses or live in neighborhoods where they feel safe.  And then, there is the Triage Shelter, which provides housing for people with challenges such as mental health and substance abuse.  There, the average length of stay is 3 days to 6 weeks.  This shelter is staffed 24 hours a day.  They each get a private room.  There are 28 shelter rooms each with its own bed, lamp, night stand, easy chair, and secure wardrobe.  Some of these same clients have often been turned away from other shelters and housing organizations.

My favorite of the Vancouver programs is the Vivian Transitional Housing Program.  This facility was specifically designed for women with mental illness and other challenges and was “developed” in response to the unique needs of women and is a women-only shelter which includes both residents and staff.  It is a program that is flexible, non-judgmental, and responsive to the, again, unique challenges faced by homeless women.  I wish that we had some of this level of care for homeless people in Cleveland.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

Growing Old Gracefully Now in My 80s

By Lucille Egan

When I was about 10 yrs. Old I thought I would be a kid forever, but then soon I developed into adulthood. In my late 20’s and early 30’s like most people, I felt I was in my prime.

I then started a gradual decline. The aging process cannot be stopped, there is no magic pill that can reverse the decline.

We can however, grow old gracefully with our lifestyle, life stresses, and the environment. Everything in moderation seems to be the key.

Smoking and drinking alcohol was a big no- no for me. In my day we walked everywhere and did not engage ourselves with fast food.

You’re heard the saying, you are what you eat, so eat fresh vegetables and drink lots of water and watch your sugar intake.

Work hard, enjoy being outdoors, and eat right. Remember, the sun setting is no less beautiful than the sun rising.   

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All Rights Reserved Ohio.           

Homeless People in Denver

By Bobbette Robinson

Homeless people begin to return to their camps after police and the City of Denver made them move.  This happened in March, 2016.  Denver has a law that says that sheltering, by having a camp on public property, is not allowed. 

The city put up flyers on a Monday that said if the homeless people’s belongings were not gone in 24 hours, the city was going to store the people’s belongings for 3 months and they could be claimed from the Dept. of Human Services.  If no one came to claim them, the city was going to destroy the articles.  On Tuesday, the police came in and gave verbal warning to the homeless.  Protesters were there as the city removed the items belonging to the homeless.

The city of Denver said the camp had grown so large that they were concerned about health and safety.  The city said it was a public health safety hazard as the homeless camps blocked public space.   They said they wanted to make it safe for the people in the area.  Protesters began to visit the site.  Their signs said “Criminalize Poverty?  Wrong Priority!”

Some of the homeless people found new shelter within a few blocks, and some returned to the same area. 

In my opinion, the city should have helped the homeless people find shelter instead of removing their belongings. The city should do more for the homeless people in the Denver area to help keeping them from being on the streets.  The city should help these people find shelter and housing.  Moving them from one area to another outside is not helping.  Helping them find long term solutions to their homelessness is a better way to handle this.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Founding Vendor Reflects on Life of Service After Receiving Award

By Angelo Anderson

We often use this paper to write about things that sometimes seem mundane and trivial when compared to all that’s going on around us, but I would like to touch on how fleeting our lives are.  In the blink of an eye we can be gone. My question is, did we make a difference while we were here?  I recently received an award from the city for Outstanding Service. During the process I had to do a short bio on the work I’ve done with the homeless.  Not being on to look for praise or reconnection for what I do, it’s humbling to see my accomplishments laid out in front of me.

I’m often approached on the street, in stores; restaurants etc. by people thanking me for helping them find a way to overcome homelessness in their lives.   I know that I’ve helped in some small way but I never stop to think how, or if my being there has made a difference.  Maybe that’s what has made me effective. I don’t think if I can help, I believe I can.

But is it enough? And what else can I do?  Those two questions will keep me busy for a long time trying to make a difference one man at a time.   Here is the text of the award program:

“Angelo Anderson spent eight years living on the streets of Cleveland in the early 1990s, but turned his life around and used the next 25 years serving people who find themselves without housing.  He started the street newspaper, the Homeless Grapevine, first as a photocopied newsletter and then a real newspaper with the words of homeless people. 

Anderson worked to expand the Homeless Stand Down to include veterans and non-veteran homeless people. He has worked on housing people with a program called Bridging the Gap.  Anderson began working at the largest shelter in Ohio in 2000, and he has cooked, done catering and restaurant work.  His hobbies include fishing and he sometimes organizes outing for the guys at Lakeside shelter.  Angelo frequently speaks to church groups and school groups about homelessness and you can still find him on Saturdays selling the street newspaper at the West Side Market.

On February 26, 2016, the Community Relations Board and the City of Cleveland honored African Americans of note working in the City of Cleveland.  Mayor Frank Jackson was on hand and Blaine Griffin of the Department of Community Development.”

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016 Cleveland, Ohio

What Would a Homeless Person Ask the Presidential Candidates if they could Moderate a Debate?

These questions were gathered at the Homeless Stand Down in 2016 in which homeless people were asked to pose a question to the candidates running for President of the United States.

  • Are you going to cut Social Security or give seniors a raise?
  • How do you plan to create better jobs and more affordable housing?
  • What would you do to secure housing, employment and other social services, especially for people with special needs?
  • What would you do to provide more benefits for the homeless and ex-felons to get access to employment?
  • What services will be provided for homeless veterans and for people with disabilities?
  • Why aren’t you asking real people, in this country, what is going on, so that you can address what they really need?
  • Why are there mostly black people standing in line for services at the Homeless Stand Downs in the United States, and mostly white people providing the services?
  • Will you, or why can’t you, increase the amount given to people who receive a disability checks so they can pay the rent?
  • How would you resolve the contaminated water situation in Flint?        
  • What would you do about Syria?
  • What do you plan to do to house homeless people?
  • How do you feel about rehabbing abandoned homes to house the homeless?
  • What are your views regarding building homeless shelters for people with mental health issues?
  • What are your plans to help stem, or curb gun violence?
  • Regarding healthcare: do you plan to continue Obamacare or make changes that may better benefit the less fortunate?
  • How do you feel about government –funded healthcare for everyone?
  • Why do you want to be President of the United States?
  • Why isn’t there enough affordable housing?
  • How do you plan to help poor, Black people?
  • How do you plan to deal with the unemployment rate?
  • How do you plan to improve healthcare for veterans?
  • When will slavery reparations be paid to the decedents of slaves?
  • What would you do to help regarding better healthcare, elder assistance and food pantries?
  • What will you do to help middle-class families?
  • What will you do differently than other presidents that will make you a better president?
  • How did you get yourself into this mess – campaigning to become President of the United States?
  • Can we have World Peace and what will you do to help achieve it?
  • Where will you get more money in order to create more jobs and housing?
  • How would you plan to help senior citizens?
  • What will you do to downsize the military?
  • What will you do to keep the recidivism rate for those coming out of incarceration low?
  • How would you handle Cost of Living Increases for benefits?
  • Would you be willing to experience homelessness for a short period of time, to see what it is really like in America?

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All Rights Reserved.

LGBT Center Fights for the Rights of Transgender Individuals in Cleveland

By Mike McGraw

LGBT people are well represented among populations experiencing homelessness, particularly among youth who are often cut off from their families of origin. Transgender people experiencing homelessness are particularly marginalized. In 2015 the Obama administration and its Department of Housing and Urban Development released rules instructing shelters to house transgender individuals according to their gender identity when placing them in single-sex shelters (search HUD Exchange Transgender People in Shelter in your search engine).  To get a local perspective on the implementation of this guideline and related issues, I conducted an email interview with Ryan Zymler of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland.

SC: Has the LGBT Center of Cleveland reached out to local homelessness services providers -- or vice versa -- about advice or support in implementing trans-friendly homelessness services as called for by federal policies?
RZ: The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland has had a lengthy working relationship with other area social service providers, including the local homeless shelters. The Center has worked with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, in partnership with the Housing Research and Advocacy Center and Equality Ohio, to develop literature that addresses issues that relate to LGBTQ-specific policies for homeless persons; in particular, the HUD guidelines surrounding non-discrimination language for transgender individuals. One of the issues we are frequently approached about is that transgender individuals who are trying to access services through the shelters often are not aware of their rights to be placed in the unit that is in line with their gender identity. More formally, The LGBT Center has provided a cultural competency training to staff at Bishop Cosgrove’s Centralized Intake to assist in addressing LGBTQ+ issues.

SC: In what way(s) has the LGBT Center been able to offer advice/support to local trans people experiencing homelessness, or to help local social service providers be trans-friendly?
RZ: The Center has provided a number of cultural competency trainings to area helping organizations: Central Intake staff at Bishop Cosgrove, staff at Housing Research and Advocacy Center, area mental health organizations and health & wellness providers and many more, all of which aim to create affirming environments for LGBTQ people. The Center is seen as a safe place for transgender people, so it has also acted as an outreach site for Frontline Services and Bellefaire JCB’s street outreach team as well. Similarly, two of The Center’s core values are advocacy and empowerment, realized by educating community members on their rights, especially those that are most at risk for discrimination. The few protections that do exist for transgender people in shelters or trying access shelters, are often unknown. While The Center might not have any formal supports or programs for people who are homeless, it frequently acts as a go-to place for information that is a critical resource for people as they are working to navigate the shelter systems. Individuals can access this information by calling The LGBT Community Center at 216-651-5428 or stopping by during drop-in hours Monday – Friday, from 1:00 – 5:00 PM and Saturday from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle April 2016. All rights reserved.