Women's Shelter Hearing at Cuyahoga County

Press Release

Wednesday May 4 at 1 p.m. at the County Council Meeting space at 2079 East 9th St. on the Fourth Floor members of the Council will get to hear directly from the residents of the shelter about the conditions at the Payne Ave. shelter.  

            Every month the residents of the shelter meet to discuss issues facing homeless people in Cleveland and for years the horrible state of the Women’s Shelter has dominated the discussion.  Even the men living at other shelters are concerned because often they have a wife or girlfriend at the Payne Ave. Community Women’s Shelter.  We have closed many of the other family/women’s shelters so that the “House of Payne” as the women call it, is the last facility with a bed available in the community.  This is the facility that women without children fleeing an abuser have to go to or grandmothers who are evicted must enter when they have a housing emergency.  After a couple of years of discussions with individual County Council members, the County intends to open their Health and Human Services committee on Wednesday at 1 p.m. to a discussion with residents about the Community Women’s Shelter. 

            The County Council Health and Human Services Hearing will hear directly from residents of the shelter about the conditions and the staff mistreatment.  The Coalition has put together a 12 point plan to reform the shelter, but is most concerned that the administration has very little control over the shelter staff.  Residents will talk about the unfair discharge policy and the broken grievance system.  They will talk about problems with the food, renovations, and the lack of housing or social service help.  Residents have prepared short two minute speeches about the problems at the shelter including the regular threats and harassment by the staff.  Despite armed security, there is regular concern with security, fights and theft at the shelter while staff just sit in their offices and allow chaos to reign.  The women who speak will need to overcome the fear of retaliation to talk about the regular changes in the rules and the total lack of structure keeping the women in a constant state of confusion.

       NEOCH and the women hope that the County forces immediate changes in the shelter.  We hope that they schedule unannounced visits in the evening to see the overcrowded space and the horrible conditions these women are forced to endure.   The women want a committee set up to implement their long term solutions to the problems and some County oversight to make sure that the Women’s shelter is implementing the recommendations.  The Homeless Coalition set up a webpage dedicated to all the problems at the “House of Payne” under Solutions at www.neoch.org. for more information. 

Brian Davis

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