Open Letter from Homeless Congress to County Council

January 5, 2016

Dear County Councilperson:

What Happened to You????

We have not seen you or heard from you as one of the elected leaders of Cuyahoga County with regard to homelessness within the County.  We met with you in the past and heard that you would go back to work with your colleagues on some of the problems raised by homeless people and so far nothing has happened.   The County has taken the lead in the distribution of homeless funds locally, and so we have no where else to turn for help.  Loh (a resident of the shelters) along with others have been coming to the County meetings to talk about the sorry state of the Women’s Shelter and we have not seen many changes.  We have written and e-mailed you on multiple occasions and heard nothing.  We have called to invite you to the Homeless Congress meetings and we meet every month at the same time.  So far nothing.  We NEED COUNTY ELECTED OFFICIALS TO PROVIDE MORE GUIDANCE TO THE $34 MILLION WE SPEND ON HOMELESSNESS!!   We will come to your office to meet.  We will come over at 7 a.m. or 7 p.m.  We can meet at one of the facilities you fund or you could pop in to the Women’s Shelter at 8 p.m. so you could see the level of human misery that you are funding. 

There are so many issues facing people experiencing homelessness locally that are not being addressed.

  1. Families are struggling to get shelter on the weekend because intake is not open.  They are told to come back on Monday.  Housing emergencies take place on the weekend as well!  We have seen a rise in families and our current strategy is not working. 
  2. The Community Women’s Shelter is full with 60 to 80 people over the bed capacity every night.   18 new beds added to the shelter does nothing to solve the overcrowding problem.  Why are we solving these issues with half measures?  We need to build additional capacity for single women or Mom’s trying to get clean while they struggle to reunite their family. 
  3. If you want to reduce the infant mortality rate, you could start with a shelter for pregnant women that we lost in 2014 with the closure of Continue Life.  How do we serve pregnant moms effectively if the only space available is to sleep on the floor of the kitchen at the extremely overcrowded shelter?
  4. Are we creating a problem in the near future by closing 82 beds of transitional shelter for men?  Will we regret this decision when the men’s shelter is overcrowded in 2017?  Can we guarantee that short term rental assistance is an effective alternative to a shelter bed?
  5. Will there be blood on the hands of the County if a woman is abused, seeks shelter, does not disclose abuse in her past and is “diverted” back to her abuser?   Should these interviews be done in front of children, and is there a way to encourage disclosure while still protecting her keeping custody of her children?
  6. Can the County reduce some of the barriers to maintaining childcare and assistance while a person transitions from shelter to housing and a job? 
  7. How do we serve the severely mentally ill in the shelters when they disturb the other residents and sometimes are violent and there is not trained personnel to help at 1 am?
  8. When is the County going to demand that the State pay for the housing of sexually based offenders who have no where to live because of the mandatory reporting laws passed by Ohio legislators? The shelters cannot afford to be the housing for sex offenders!!

The Homeless Congress meets on the Second Thursday of every month at 1:00 p.m. at the Cosgrove Center 1736 Superior Ave.  We have included a copy of the flyer for you to mark your calendars.  We also have a Missing Poster to try to creatively encourage you to attend one of our meetings.  We will take down the missing posters from the NEOCH website once we finally hear from you.  We have tried to schedule something for over a year with County Council members and not heard from anyone or the Council had a secret meeting and did not invite any homeless people.  Please call us and let us know if you will attend or if we can schedule a meeting with you.  There were 9,000 homeless people who used the shelters in 2015 and another 15,000 who met the Dept. of Education definition of homelessness who did not go to shelter.  They are your constituents and they need your help.  

Please call or e-mail to schedule a time to meet with the Congress!!


Brian Davis

On behalf of the Homeless Congress