Nathan Testifies About the Women's Shelter

Testimony of Nathan Manthey on February 14, 2017 County Council Meeting after the discussion about the homeless single women. 

This meeting had a large crowd discussing the transformation of the Quicken Loan Arena with public money.  Here is the link to the testimony with Nathan's remarks at 1 hour 24 minutes in this YouTube video.  There were two other commentators on homelessness after Nathan and two young people before Nathan (at 1 hr 19 minutes Kathleen Mosier and Andrew Shearer at 1 hour 22 minutes) who talked about spending money on homelessness/housing rather than renovating a playground for well to do members of our community.  Here are the comments of Nathan Manthey previously of Cleveland Institute of Art:

"Hello County Council.  My name is Nathan Manthey, I am a practicing artist in the Cleveland area and I am here to talk to you about the current contract that is up for bid for staffing concerns at the Norma Herr Women’s Center.  Basically, my interest takes place last year, I was a senior at the Cleveland Institute of Art and I took a course called Project Find.  The objective of that course was to establish relations between artists at the Cleveland Institute of Art and homeless and other displaced communities within Cuyahoga County.   

Our first stop was at the Norma Herr Women’s Center and we met with an employee there, the name of Richard Carr.   That employee asked us, What kind of art project we would be interested in?  And after discussion with him he told us that the project that he thinks that would benefit Norma Herr would be a hard or metal sculpture outside of the building. And the reason for that was because he claimed the women that came there were angry and vengeful and that to have a metal or a sculpture made out of anything besides metal would ultimately mean it would be abused and torn apart by these women. 

I didn’t appreciate that distilling of the spirit of the homeless women so I met directly with them.  We created a project where they would go out on empty lots since there are a surplus of empty lots in Cuyahoga County and they hosted mock ground breaking [or] ribbon cutting ceremonies for fictitious women shelters. They got to create their own speeches and they got to thank whoever (sarcastically thank) whoever they thought should provide these for them.  When I voiced the original idea of this project to the director of the Office of Homeless Services, I believe she’s the director, Ruth Gillett, she dissuaded me or tried to dissuade me from continuing on with this project. And she said essentially that the women would be confused by the idea of this project and that they would believe that the shelters were actually being built. And that they were, that they would essentially be angry by that. 

My problem with that is that these people that represent the staffing at the shelter do not hold the women in high esteem.  If you are a social welfare program you need to care more about the people that you are delivering that social welfare to.  I believe that Frontline Services and I have talked to several, several members of the Norma Herr Women’s Center, all of them have complained to me about the current staff of Frontline Services and there is some slow improvement but I know there is finally other contract bidders for the staffing concerns this year and I want the committee to strongly consider going with those other bids besides Frontline.  That’s the end of my statement."


by Brian Davis and transcribed by Denise Moore

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