Notes from the October Homeless Congress

Anastasia, an instructor from the Cleveland Institute of Art, and her students attended.  They wanted to discuss some projects she has in mind to with some of the residents from the shelters.  Project Find is the name of the projects she is working on.  One purpose of this project is to bring more awareness to homelessness. 

Each of her students were introduced and communicated their ideas to the members of the Homeless Congress.  Ross, Malinda, and Matthew are the first names of the students.  They had surveys to distribute to the members and to be delivered to the shelters.  They expressed just how important art is and the different ways it could help.  

The students asked for ideas and feedback.  One suggestion was artwork in the shelters and murals.   The members asked about doing some art projects at the men’s shelter.

Anastasia discussed the projects they did last year.  She talked about the mural that was created to put up at the women’s shelter to create the spirit of resiliency.  She also talked about the art classes she conducted at the shelter.  She suggested ideas about projects that would bring awareness to homelessness.  Ms.  Valentine of the Cosgrove Center talked about the art projects on the third floor and informed everyone that there will be an Art Gallery in February.   Ms. Valentine informed Anastasia about the art classes on Tuesday and Thursday’s from 10:00am-2:00pm at Cosgrove.

The raffle was held and one female and one male won the prizes.

Ruth Gillett was next on the agenda.  She presented a PowerPoint presentation about the new Advisory Board. She talked about the project to end veterans and youth homelessness.  She also discussed the new rapid rehousing funds for single homeless adults.  Youth are defined as those between ages 18-24, and the goal is to get them into housing as soon as possible.  It is coordinated intake’s responsibility to link them to the proper resources.  They must address the reason the youth is homeless.  Some of the situations discussed include those kicked out of the house or those exiting foster care. 

In November, short-term rental assistance for single individuals will begin.  The goal is to do a better job linking them to resources.  Better preventative measures is a goal to help end family homelessness.  Gillett stated that there is a need to utilize the shelter system according to the highest need.  The rental assistance that will be provided through this program, is in a progressive engagement model.  It can go up to 6 months, 8 months, and then transfer to a long term program if that is what the individual needs. 

Most people can get back on their feet within 4 months of assistance.  Shared housing was also readdressed as an option.   Another participant asked if she has to be homeless for a long period of time to get the rapid rehousing.  The answer was no.  Another wanted information on what the process and criteria to successfully get Rapid Re-Housing is.  Ruth’s response was that information will be made available as soon as it is all in place, and she will return to discuss at the November meeting.

Also discussed was reasons why landlords are hesitant to accept participants of Rapid Re-Housing.  Brian Davis discussed the Fair Housing Regulations and that landlords may be improperly screening out those with criminal backgrounds.  Davis also discussed urging City Council to pass protections for tenants against discrimination based on their source of income.   It has not been passed in Cleveland as of yet, but we would like it to be passed in Cleveland so that the landlords cannot discriminate against people with vouchers from getting an apartment. 

Next, the meeting for the women’s shelter residents at Frontline was discussed.  The meeting will be on October 20, 2016 at 1:00pm.  They will be meeting with Eric Morse, the COO of Frontline to discuss needed changes at the shelter.  Frontline recently renewed the contract to be the provider at the women’s shelter for another year.  Topics for the meeting are the 12 recommended solutions that were agreed to prior to Frontline renewing the contract.

Cleveland Mediation Center is no longer a part of Frontline and Brian Davis wanted to know if the women residing at the shelter would be willing to trust them as a group to resolve grievances with the shelter.  At the time of the meeting, the answer was no.  This will be further discussed later.  Brian asked if there are any problems that need to be addressed now.  One of the women staying at the shelter talked about how rude the security officers are that are working at the shelter.  Another complaint about trans women staying at the shelter and the women having no experience with this issue.  These two issues were added to the agenda to be further addressed.  The Congress meets on the second Thursday of the month at Cosgrove. 

by Ramona Turnbull

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