Homeless liaisons help the homeless children in each of Ohio’s School Districts

Every year thousands of families struggle with homelessness. In Cleveland, there were 2,744 homeless students in 2017.  Statistics show that the percentage of homeless children in Ohio who graduate is less than 25% according to the National Center on Family Homelessness.  Education of today’s children plays an important roll in preventing homelessness.

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WCPN Looks At Homeless Youth in Cleveland

A nice portrait (not of any of the guests on WCPN) by David HaganFrom The Sound of Ideas episode on July 9th, 2015 with Mike McIntyre, Tasha Jones, Gary Stanger, Robert L. Fischer, Kate Lodge, and Angela D’Orazio

A link to the story http://www.ideastream.org/programs/sound-of-ideas/plan-young-adults-aging-out-foster-care

Recently, on WCPN’s The Sound of Ideas, a discussion was hosted on aging out of foster care and youth homelessness. Mike McIntyre hosted five members of the community related to poverty and homelessness, including a homeless youth by the name of Tasha Jones, Gary Stanger of Jim Casey Youth Opportunities, Robert L. Fischer of CWRU, Kate Lodge of A Place 4 Me Initiative, and Angela D’Orazio of the Sisters of Charity Foundation. 

Tasha was a foster child, who aged out of the foster care system, and at graduation she found herself homeless with nowhere to go.  Sadly, this is the story for many young people locally. Every year 120 teens age out of foster care in the area, and CWRU’s studies show that these youth are five times more likely to be homeless.  Tasha found herself staying at family member’s house, and then living in bus shelters.  Though Tasha points out that homelessness is technically defined as being registered under a shelter or on the streets, but does not count those who stay with friends in basements or on couches.  Eventually, Tasha found herself at a woman’s shelter in Cleveland, but was not there often due to being in school at the Cuyahoga County Community College.  After a month at the shelter, Tasha was lucky enough to meet Kate Lodge and received a place at a transitional housing unit.

Tasha talked about her difficulty getting food while staying at the Women's Shelter with her Tri-C class schedule.  "I wasn't eating, I did not eat for almost two months,"  according to Tasha.  She could not get the shelter staff to save her a dinner because she got back in the evening and she was in class during lunch.  Breakfast was too late and dinner was too early for Tasha to be able to get food at the shelter. She suggested that the shelters need to work with the people on their specific issues and not force people to work around the shelter's schedule.  She was taking classes so she did not have money to buy food, and she was starving all the time. Thanks to the people at the Tri-C foodbank for intervening and figuring out that Tasha was not getting enough food. 

Despite Tasha having a hard time, Gary Stanger mentions how many youth are not even as lucky as Tasha to meet the right people to get into programs. He also notes that the technical definition of homelessness does not really count the numerous youth that are going from place to place. He goes on to state, “when they [young people] show up to the shelter that means that they ran out of friends.” 

When asked about increased funding, D’Orazio notes that funders are focusing on coordination between groups to see how their results turn out.  With continued planning, a strategy has developed among many agencies and there is an important need to show those funding programs where they fit in the strategy. 

Fischer studies poverty and in his research has found that among the homeless youth only those unaccompanied by a guardian are counted.  So, in actuality, the number is much higher.  Also, the numbers show that, in the area, 95% of unaccompanied youth are 18-24 and 85% are African-American.  The average homeless youth is 20 years-old and 81% of the unemployed homeless youth are actively search for a job.  As for LGBTQ youth, the numbers are staggering.  Fischer mentions that about one third of homeless youth are lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer.

Later, the discussion shifts to transitional housing and permanent supportive housing.  Kate Lodge makes the argument that, though funding is shifting from transitional to supportive, transitional housing is pivotal for the youth.  She goes on to mention the importance of living in a college dorm for many youth and how that shapes them for the future.  To Lodge, transitional housing helps to provide a similar effect for homeless youth, while also providing a safe place to live.  

by Dan the intern

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News Updates on Criminalization, Youth and Other Homeless Stories

by Dan the Intern

Homelessness, Government, and Politics

Homeless Youth


Opinions are those who sign the entry.

Weekly Update on Homeless Stories in the News

Here are a few interesting news stories about homelessness from the last week.  Click on the blue text to view the source article.

by Dan the Intern

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Project ACT/City Music Conference and Concert

Our friends over at the Cleveland Metropolitan School District Project ACT are hosting an event over at the Masonic Temple.  This will be a conference and concert around the issue of homeless youth in our community.  Project ACT is one of the leading school programs in the country in serving kids who become homeless during the school year.  They rapidly respond to make sure that their school term is not interrupted.  They work with the community to provide transportation and additional tutoring to the 3,900 kids who become homeless.  We have the contacts for every school district in Cuyahoga County here if you need additional help.

Brian Davis

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COHHIO Gives Summary of Ohio Budget

February 2, 2015

FROM: Bill Faith, Executive Director, COHHIO
RE: Biennium Budget Bill Housing Provisions

Today, the Kasich Administration released its budget proposal for the next two years. Over the coming days and weeks, there will be lots of details to uncover but we want to highlight a few issues related to housing and homelessness where we know the administration is taking some action.

1.) The Ohio Housing Trust Fund - The OHTF will continue to receive the $50 million in each of the next two years, but an additional helpful step is the formation of a reserve fund to help stabilize year-to-year funding fluctuations. Since 2003, the OHTF has been supported by a fee tied to recording of documents at the county level up to a maximum of $50 million per year. The budget proposal amends the OHTF statute to create a $15 million reserve amount to be used to fill the gap in years when the $50 million level is not reached.

2.) Homeless Youth Employment Assistance - Historically, funds available through WIA (Workforce Invest Act) -- now WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) -- have not worked well in many communities assisting homeless people or other vulnerable populations, such as transition aged youth. WIOA funds are now being shifted to focus on disconnected youth (including homeless youth) ages 16 to 24. Additionally, the Administration has committed to focus more job opportunities and supports to homeless youth, with a portion of the governor’s discretionary WIOA funds helping homeless youth gain employment as they stabilize their housing.

3.) Continued Health Care Coverage – Everyone remembers the battle two years ago to extend health care coverage for more low-wage workers and vulnerable people left out of the Medicaid program. The Governor’s budget provides for the ongoing funding and coverage necessary to support this critically important health care coverage.

4.) Supportive Housing and Medicaid -- The Administration has signaled that it supports, through changes in the state Medicaid plan, an expanded package of supportive services which will allow housing and service organizations to help people who experience chronic homelessness remain in stable housing.

5.) Other Housing Resources in Budget Plan

a.) The budget plan includes $5m to expand the recovery housing capacity over the next two years. This continues and expands on the $10 million provided last year in the mid-biennial review.

b.) Initiates a pilot program for a subsidy to housing providers that support low-income people with disabilities at $1 million a year through a partnership with the Department of Medicaid the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

c.) Sustain funding for Residential State Supplement program at $15M annually while MHAS works to improve the quality of the RSS housing.

6.) In addition to the budget points mentioned above, the administration will leverage the following additional resources it has received or is expected to receive in the near future:

a.) Ohio will begin preparing for the receipt of National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF) dollars, expected to be approximately $10 million a year. The Kasich Administration announced February 2nd that the Ohio Development Services Agency will administer the NHTF and OHFA will develop the allocation plan and allocate program funds. The NHTF will provide revenue to build, preserve, and rehabilitate housing for people who are extremely low income.

b.) A $3.6M Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals (CABHI) grant was awarded to OMHAS to provide programming and services for individuals who are chronically homeless. The funds will be used to leverage PATH to reach 820 people over the next three years in 5 Ohio cities.

c.) Finally, Ohio is expected to receive news in early 2015 of being awarded almost $12 million in HUD Section 811 grant that will allow OHFA and Medicaid to develop and subsidize over 500 units of rental housing with supportive services for low-income adults with a disability. This resource will work with existing units to create long-term housing success.

To learn more about how these and other budget measures will impact housing across the state, consider attending the COHHIO conference April 13-15.

All the best, and thanks for your support.

Bill Faith, Executive Director

Los Angeles Really?

NPR did a story and interview with the Los Angeles Mayor accepting children fleeing violence in Central America.  This is something that we have to do as a society.  We must step up to help these children fleeing violence and exploitation, but Los Angeles seems like the last place to offer help.  This is a country of immigrants and just as we proclaim on the Statue of Liberty, we need to comfort the huddled masses yearning to break free.  We have an obligation to assist these citizens of countries we have destabilized and sent our gangsters and drug dealers back to their birth country to wreak havoc.  But Los Angeles? 

Los Angeles has an out of control homeless population with a section of the city called "Skid Row" with thousands of people living outside. LA has the highest concentration of homeless people on any square mile in America.   They operate the largest mental health facility in the Country that is known as their County Jail.  They do not have guaranteed access to shelter for their own citizens so they know nothing about serving homeless people.   Why Los Angeles?  Why not Denver or St. Paul or even Cleveland who are doing a way better job in serving homeless people? Even Iowa, Seattle or Charlotte would be better than the city with the largest homeless population in the United States. 

Los Angeles is also the city of origin for many of these gang leaders who were deported back to their country of birth.  These gang leaders long to get back to LA and they learned all their skills at running a criminal enterprise on the mean streets of LA.   The city of Los Angeles has too many people in need of help right now; they do not have the capacity to care for all the people in need currently in the city.  Any visitor to Los Angeles will come away with the impression that homelessness is out of control in America.  There have to be other places that have a deeply held religious beliefs that we all must help children in need.   The Mayor of LA gave a good spin about working on veteran's homelessness and then he said his city will focus on long term homelesss.  But when will he get around to helping homeless children living in his city, and then why bring in more homeless kids when they have no plan to serve their exisiting population? Here is what the Mayor told NPR:

The challenge is to end veterans' homelessness by the end of 2015. And next after that, I'll be looking at the chronic homeless population, which we've already made some dents in. I'm looking to the state and federal government, which have cut our housing dollars in recent years, to re-up those as well as for us to locally generate a consistent source of funding to build permanent, supportive housing that won't just get people off the street, but give them the services that they need to stay in those apartments and to stay permanently in housing and to get employed. So we're looking at this in a holistic way so we don't throw money at a problem and people wind up back on the street.

There are passionate caring people in Nebraska, Michigan and Maine who would be willing to help.  Don't send kids to a city that already has decades of bad public policy that has led to a crisis in affordable housing and homelessness. 

Brian Davis

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New Video Posted for Street Voices

This is Quinton who is a high school student in Cleveland Ohio.  He is a trained speaker available to go to schools, church groups or housing groups to talk about his homeless experiences.  He comes from a military family and has struggled to maintain his schooling and extra curricular activities while his family attempts to find stable housing.  You can contact Ken at 216/432-0540 ext 106 if you would like to schedule any of our street voices speakers.  

Brian Davis

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  Strategies to Prevent Homelessness

for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care

A local conversation


Monday, June 23, 2014

4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

 (Program from 4-6 p.m.,and networking reception from 6-7 p.m.)

 Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center

127 Public Square, Cleveland, OH 44114

Invited speakers include :   

 Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness

Gary Stangler, executive director of the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative

Jennifer Ho, senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development    

 Please feel free to extend this invitation to your colleagues and others who might be interested in this convening.

Registration details will be forthcoming.

Sponsored by: 



Great Evening for Outreach Training

Last night was a first in Cleveland-a discussion between the students and religious folks who go outside and serve homeless people with the "professional" staff hired to serve the population.   We had Jim Schlecht, Toni Johnson, Michael Lawson and Karen McHenry (pictured above in order left to right) who lead the discussion.  This was a chance for Labre students, groups representing various churches and other agencies to get together to talk about the goals and issues associated with serving people who live outside.  The first order of business was to give a standing ovation to Mike from St. Ignatius and St. Augustine for his patience in finding housing for the stroller lady who has been on the streets for much of the last 20 years.  Nuns on the near West Side had found her housing about eight years ago, but she quickly lost the housing.   We hope that she keeps her housing, but it was a huge step to build a trusting relationship with her to convince her to go inside.  

We had around 30 people attend the training/teach in, and that included a couple of representatives from the Homeless Congress who had experience with homelessness. The agenda was to discuss who exactly stays outside with Karen of Bellefaire talking a great deal about young people who we do not always think about when talking about homelessness.  Michael from Frontline did a very good overview of some of the safety issues he reminds his staff about before they go outside.   Jim of Care Alliance talked a lot about "compassionate relationships" for those on the streets.  We discussed putting aside expectations and working with the existing social service provides to "hand people" into the capable hands of others. Toni talked about the resources available to veterans and warned everyone of the resources drying up for women and families.  Of course, the training dealt with ethical issues and boundaries necessary to do some of this work.   Finally, we all contributed some often overlooked resources in the community that might be available to those living outside.  We talked about ways to get people into detox and to use the Youth Hotline that is available 24 hours a day (570-8010). Finally, there was a discussion of the Seasons of Hope safe haven for women. 

NEOCH had a couple of resources available to the group.  We talked about the Street Card and how valuable that could be to homeless people.  NEOCH has also produced a bright green card for those who go outside to use.  This card can be left at a campsite if there is no one home when you stop by.  It has the direct phone numbers to those who are paid to assist homeless people. It gives drop in center locations and times along with meals available downtown.  Finally, we introduced the new outreach trainee funded by the Community West Foundation.  His name is Tyrone H. and he started last week.  This was a chance for all these groups to be introduced to him and he will be shadowing all the outreach teams locally to learn and pass along information.  Tryrone will be a link between the volunteer groups and the professional staff typically out during the day.  We will do a longer look at Tyrone and his job in a follow up post.  We will also have another training in September when many of the students have returned from summer break. 

Brian Davis

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National Coalition for the Homeless Updates

The National Coalition for the Homeless has a new director, a new website, some new Board members and a renewed focus on community organizing and building a movement around housing and homelessness.  There are so many national groups focused on homelessness, but NCH has a 30 year history of focusing on Civil Rights and representing the interests of those living in shelters or on the streets.  They have a strong past including leading the passage of the McKinney Vento legislation that protects homeless children and funds all the shelters.  They have fought against laws directed at homeless people and raised awareness about hate crimes against those who spend time sleeping outside. 

It has been a rough few years for NCH with the downturn and a hostile administration who turned their back on poor people to focus on only the longest serving homeless people.  For most of the last 10 years even during the toughest times, NCH has made a commitment to dispelling the myths about homelessness with a speaker's bureau.  They had done presentations to tens of thousands of people over the years.  They have trained homeless and formerly homeless people to speak about their experiences and then they schedule them to speak before student groups and religious organizations.  These speakers answer questions and talk about their experiences in shelters, on waiting lists and trying to find help.   They help groups with alternative spring breaks to learn about homelessness by spending a few days on the streets of Washington.  They try to educate national groups about homelessness through people with first hand experience.  The goal is that we have done a horrible job in solving homelessness over the last 40 years in moving forward on solutions, and if we can teach the next generation why there are so many homeless maybe they will be able to solve this problem. 

A few new initiatives the staff are working on pushing is an expansion of the number of beds for homeless youth in the United States.  This goes along the lines of the hoodied mannequins placed around downtown Cleveland to raise awareness of the problem of homeless youth.  In much of the country, there are no beds available to homeless young people.  We are fortunate to have the VOA shelter for 18-24 year old males, and the LMM shelter for runaways.  In addition, we have Bellefaire working on building relationships with homeless youth who are moving from couch to couch.  NCH wants to protect the existing resources for homeless youth and expand significantly shelter space in America.

They are also working to restore housing vouchers in the United States.  The voucher program has been decimated over the last five years with budget cuts and Sequestration.  There is not much support in Washington for the voucher program and a great deal of misunderstanding about the program.  NCH wants to see an expansion of housing vouchers as a part of the solutions to homelessness in America.  NCH is also continuing its work on the rights of everyone to have access to shelter and working to supporting efforts to pass "Homleess Bills of Rights" across the country.

They could use your help.  NCH is a membership organization and could use your help in supporting this agenda.  If you care about finding solutions to homelessness in the United States, the National Coalition has a proven track record and the leadership to move forward on public policy that will lead to a reduction in homelessness. 


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National Updates for March 2014

New York City

The new police chief of New York City, Bill Bratton, has tripled the number of arrests for panhandling as was done in the first two months of 2012.  This is a crackdown on those who sit by the subway asking for change which is annoying, but these guys need the help.  I have never understood giving people who are down on their luck a ticket for begging for money.  This seems like kicking a man when he is down.  Do they allow these guys to beg for the fine that they will be charged for asking for help?   Unless you provide an alternative for these poor people it will only perpetuate the problem. 

Washington DC

As every city in the United States is struggling with family homelessness, Washington is in an especially complicated position that the Courts are demanding changes.   The Mayoral candidates are at least talking about homelessness and ways to increase access to housing in the Capital City.   The families were not being provided privacy and violates they were violating a city law to protect children.  Cleveland does not have a law similar to this DC law, but we have a 25 year history of not turning anyone away at the shelter door.  We try as hard as we can never to turn a family, a man, a child or anyone away.  Why would a fragile 47 year old with AIDS be any less important in the nation's capital than a child?  Why not offer anyone who needs help a shelter bed and not just children?

Extreme Weather on the East Coast 

I missed this story in February from Tell Me More about the extreme weather conditions.  We are so far out ahead of most other states in the United States.   We have operated three overflow sites this winter and nearly two thirds of the nights since November 15 have been extreme weather this winter.  I am so glad that Cleveland does not only open overflow shelters in the winter.  People are more likely to suffer hypothermia during a cold rain that they do not get warmed quickly.  The National Coalition for the Homeless has a report on their website about the responses to cold weather.  Some open their winter shelter if it is under 20 degrees while others wait until 10 degrees.  

Chicago, Illinois

There was a nice story this Friday on Storycorps about a homeless young person and their embarrassment over being homeless that appeared on NPR.  This was the story of a teacher who discovered one of her students had become homeless and did not have a family to take care of him.  They reunite after he has stabilized in foster care.

Nashville Tennessee

In a unique way to get around food restrictions, religious groups are asking for the freedom to give out food as part of their ministry.  This law tries to sway Tennessee legislators without mentioning hungry or homeless people.  They are strictly asking for religious liberty which should be attractive down in the South.  Many Southern states have enacted laws limiting when and where people can be fed, so the activists in Nashville are trying a novel approach. 

Brian Davis

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School Contacts Updated

It is state and federal law that every school district assign one staff person to interact with children and young people struggling with their housing.  These homeless liaisons will help to keep a child from having their school disrupted if their family losing their housing during the school year.  They will find the best placement for the child either in their school of origin or in a new school if there are domestic violence issues.  These liaisons will make every effort to provide transportation and a safe return to school as soon as possible for the child. 

Every year we update the contact sheet so that families will know who they can go to in order to get help.   We have posted the updated contacts for this school year under our "Find Help" section.  These liaisons can help with transportation, uniforms, tutors, or other materials to help with a return to school.  The goal is to keep the student from falling behind in their classes.  So even if their home life is disrupted the liaisons can help to make sure that the student's academic life does not spiral out of control.  If your familiy is struggling with housing in Cuyahoga County contact the liaison for your children's school district  to see if they can help.  Feel free to contact us if you have questions about the McKinney law or the obligations for a school district to not disrupt a child's education.  By the way, the charter schools also must assign a homeless liaison to help, but there are too many for us to track.  Contact the principal for the charter school to find out the name of the homeless liaison.  

Brian Davis

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