Privacy As a Sword Instead of a Shield

The Women's Shelter is extremely overcrowded.  There are way too many people in that building with as many as 60 people sleeping on the floor every night.  They are sleeping in the kitchen, dining room, quiet room and all over the basement.  There are elderly women sleeping in chairs.  There are women in wheel chairs sleeping on the floor on a regular basis.  There are women with walkers who are barely mobile.  If there was a fire, there is no way for all the women to get out of the building.

Joe Pagonakis did a series of stories about the overcrowded conditions.  He was not allowed to visit the shelter, but obtained pictures from inside the shelter.  He was also able to get an elected official admit that they did not know something under their control.  The County is the main funder of the shelter, and so every County official should know what is going on over there.   Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell said that she had no idea the shelter was so overcrowded, but she would check on the situation.  We are still waiting for her to see the facility after two weeks. 

The shelter would not grant access to the facility because of "privacy" concerns.  This is a pattern for Frontline Services to use protection of the clients as a sword against exposure instead of as a shield to assist clients.  There was no vote by the women or request to allow the media to come see the shelter.  There was a presumption of denial by the agency.  I think that the woman would have appreciated the media seeing how bad it was over there.  I am sure more than a majority over at the shelter would have wanted to speak publicly about how bad the conditions were but they never got the chance.  The top brass at the agency decided against allowing Mr. Pagonakis into the shelter.  I hope that he continues to look into the conditions at the shelter.  I hope that he looks into the reasons behind this overcrowding (closing all the other women's facilities).

I have seen this a lot over the years where the shelter will cite privacy when it means that they will avoid showing their own shortfalls or to avoid doing additional work.  They don't give over names for the homeless memorial not to protect privacy, but instead so that they do not have to admit negative outcomes.  They force individuals to give up personal information and then allow other agencies to be able to view this data.  Privacy is always used to protect the agency and is rarely provided with informed consent.  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

Cuyahoga County Needs a Missing Person Database

When Kyle Waler was found dead in the Tremont neighborhood yesterday, his family said that he had been missing for more than a week.  We are so sorry for the family who worked to battle addiction and then lost their son to the disease.   None of the outreach workers that we help to coordinate had contact with Mr. Waler before he died.  We are sorry that we could not intervene to help th2015 Homeless Stand Downe family with their son before he died on the streets of Cleveland.

It does raise some issues that we need to address in Cleveland.  Maybe this unfortunate death will lead to some changes that would improve Cleveland for those battling addiction. 

  • Missing persons
  • Detox on demand
  • Privacy used as a weapon against people.

It might come as a surprise for family members that you have to file a missing person report in the city of residence not in the city in which the person may be last seen.  So, a small jurisdiction like Woodmere would take the lead in investigating even though larger cities like Cleveland might have the expertise in finding the person.   There are also two different missing person databases that have to be searched locally and do not overlap.  One is run by the City of Cleveland Police Department and then one constructed by Cuyahoga County. They have different information and are set up in a different manner.  Neither has the ability for outside information being added from family or case workers. 

Right now, there is a wait for getting into detox in Cuyahoga County.  If you make the decision to seek help you may have to wait for three or four days on the streets attempting to abstain from drugs or alcohol before you will get help.  This can often be the difference between getting help and losing the will to find help for months or years.   In addition, the recovery system is fractured in not building relapse into the recovery process.  Often there is only punishment associated with relapse that disconnects the person from the help that they need.  We wrote about the dysfunctional Recovery system earlier this year.

Finally, families will be surprised to realize that the shelters have no ability to give information out about their residents.  This is to protect privacy, and we support expanded privacy like being able to be anonymous in the system.   We do not want shelters to be able to just provide information at the door about the residents, but we need to figure out a work around using the web to both protect privacy and help families reunite with their loved ones.  The problem is that we have not created alternatives to find people especially loved ones who may need help and additional support.  Why isn't there a missing person's database that is interactive?  Why isn't in this Facebook generation a central repository that allows people to post information about their lost loved ones?  Why isn't there a way for case manager to tell family members to stop looking for a relative because they do not want to be found?  Why can't we harness the power of the internet to reduce the number of people who are missing?  

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinions of those who sign the entry.