Who You Gonna Call?

NEOCH is one of the last non-profits that actually has a human answering the phone as much as possible.  We get a ton of hangups, but we try to be available to answer questions in the community.  Since the shelters moved to a coordinated intake system even fewer places in the homeless social service system answer the phone.   We want to help, but for the most part there are only a few things we can help you with.

We do get some calls that are just people calling every single place possible hoping that they come across a guardian angel who will say, "We will give you rent to stay in your apartment come on down."  In Cleveland, this is as likely as calling around asking for a leprechaun to give up his pot of gold.  But most people are desperate for help so it is understandable.  Their world is collapsing around them and the phone is the only thing they have as a possible life saver. 

There is a trend among callers to say, "Hello, how are you doing?"  I know they are trying to be nice in the hopes that the person on the other line will offer the help they are looking for, but it is annoying.  They do not care how I am doing because I have said "terrible," or "rough" or any number of other responses and they just go forward and ignore your response.   Also, there are 23,000 homeless people, so we really don't have the time to chit chat about our issues.  We would prefer if you just ask the question so we can work on the 150 other things on our plate.   

Here are some reasons to call NEOCH (216/432-0540):

  1. If you see a homeless person that you are worried about and may need some outreach.  We will send an outreach staff person to come out to intervene. 
  2. If you are staying in a shelter or homeless service and need help filing a grievance or registering a complaint, give us a call. If you stay outside and feel you are being harassed or mistreated, please give us a call.
  3. If you are having any problems or have questions about voting for homeless people, give us a call.  If you need to know where to go to get mail or the address you should use as a homeless person to register to vote, call us.  If you are challenged at the polling place or get notification that your ballot may not count or were forced to vote by provisional ballot, give us a call. 
  4. If you work as an outreach worker and are calling for donated items, we love to hear from you.  Workers call for socks, tents, sleeping bags to see what is in stock. 
  5. Also, if you want to donate items to SocksPlus and need us to come downstairs to unload your car, feel free to call.
  6. If you have a public policy or advocacy issue that you want to talk to us about, we would love to hear from you.  If you want to ask why your family could stay together when they entered shelter or why do you have to give your social security number in order to get shelter, give us a call.
  7. If you want to volunteer for NEOCH, feel free to call and talk to Joyce.  If you want to volunteer with a direct service provider do not callGo to our website directly.
  8. If you want to sign up for one of our trainings or to get a login for the HousingCleveland website, feel free to call. 
  9. If you want to schedule a time for a formerly homeless individual to talk about their experience in moving out of homelessness with the Street Voices Program, please give Ken a call.
  10. The only job that we have is to sell the Street Newspaper.  Feel free to call Ken to set up a training in order to sell the paper. 

 Here are some areas that you might want to just go to our website and avoid calling.

  1. If you need a one page guide to local homeless services called the Street Card just go here to the website to print one out.  There is a vet street card, a family street card and even an easy to print card. 
  2. If you are confused about how to get into shelter in Cleveland and just need someone to explain it to you, here is a web page just for that purpose.  Or you can click the "Find Help" Button on the top of each page of the NEOCH Website. 
  3. If you want to find an old story from the Grapevine or the Chronicle, many but not all are on our website. 
  4. If you want to volunteer, it is probably easiest to go to our website to narrow down the choices.
  5. If you have questions about statistics and research, it is way easier to look at those on our website. 
  6. If you want to find available housing, it is best to look at Housing Cleveland.org for the 700 units that are available right now. 
  7. If you need a lawyer, we only have legal clinics out in the shelters.  You cannot call to get legal help anywhere.

These are reasons NOT to call NEOCH because we cannot help you!!!

  1. If you want to get in shelter, don't call!!!  Just go to 1736 Superior 2nd Floor.  There is no reason to call anyone, we cannot provide any information on the phone.  Every bed is assigned by Coordinated Intake on Superior and they cannot do that on the phone.
  2. If you need a referral to a social service provider or telephone number call 2-1-1 and not NEOCH.  We cannot help with this. 
  3. If you want rental assistance, we cannot help.  There are 55,000 people locally who need this kind of help, so you have a lot of people ahead of you. 
  4. If you need help to prevent an eviction call the Cleveland Tenants Organization, but please do not call NEOCH. 
  5. If you need help relocating to another community, please do not call NEOCH.  We do not want to see any more of a loss in the local population.  
  6. We do not have any jobs available except for the Street Newspaper.  No reason to call us.
  7. We do not give out donations directly from our office.  You have to get those from the outreach staff.  No reason to call NEOCH looking for donations. 
  8. We know that bus tickets are like gold in the homeless community.  There is no reason to call NEOCH or anywhere for a bus ticket--Gold is rarely given over the phone to a stranger.  Transportation is very expensive for low income and homeless people locally, we know that and you don't need to call us to remind us of this. 
  9. If you need utility assistance, don't call NEOCH.  There is a HEAP number to get an appointment and you can get that at 2-1-1. 

Wish that we could help more or that the County redesigned the Jobs and Family Services sites to be the one stop center for everyone struggling in the community.  This could increase confidence in government or show people that government can help.  We are at an all time low in confidence in government and this could help.  

Brian Davis

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