Y Haven Latest to be Sacked by HUD

I have been talking about this slow crawl to the elimination of transitional shelters from the "continuum of care" in Cleveland and around the United States for years.  The Plain Dealer posted a story today about the loss of funding to Y-Haven.  NEOCH has been saying that the transitional programs will disappear for years and trying to get all the shelters to oppose these plans.  I always thought Y-Haven would be the last one left to survive, but I was wrong--there are three left.

Back in 2010, NEOCH approached the shelters to say that there is a danger with HUD funding changes that will fundamentally disrupt homeless services locally and the groups should come together to oppose these plans.  We wrote to all the major shelters (except Mental Health Services) with this pitch:

There are new rules for receipt of funding being driven by HUD, these rules are impacting other public and private funders and current service providers.  Service providers and advocates need to work together to ensure that the coming changes won’t impact our constituents ability to access services.  We feel that if we do not all come together that some needs of the homeless in our community may be overlooked.  The expertise in case management, substance abuse treatment, and mental health treatment that we have perfected in Cleveland may be lost because of financial constraints, change of focus and the lack of a clear plan.

Our plan was that we should set aside competition and our previous disputes in order to get all the shelters to come together to oppose the County plans around funding Permanent Supportive Housing with emergency services money.  The shelters felt that I was too controversial and a thorn in the side of the County and would not come together around a strategy to oppose the County.  Many of those programs are now out of business or hanging on by their finger nails.  We made the case that this will lead to one shelter closing every year to the point that in the end there will be no funding left for shelters. It was not that we opposed funding for Permanent Supportive Housing.  We just felt that the community should not use money taken from the shelters to build this housing.  After all, a permanent supportive housing unit does not turn over while a shelter bed turns over every 40 days and a transitional bed turns over every 6 or 7 months.  In Cleveland, we closed:

  • Family Transitional Shelter was a scattered site owned by a non-profit. (~30 spaces for families--60 beds total with kids)
  • East Side Catholic Shelter both transitional and emergency shelter for women and families (24 units for families or 44 beds)
  • Cleveland Housing Network Transitional for families (15 beds)
  • Triumph House for families 25 rooms for families (50 beds)
  • Domestic Violence Center (closed one shelter for families or single women) (40 beds)
  • Shelter for Mentally Ill Men at 1701 Payne (40 beds plus overflow)
  • Railton House transitional shelter for men closed last week (56 beds)
  • VOA Youth Transitional Shelter on Walton lost funding and will soon reduce size (20 beds lost)
  • Transitional Housing Inc changed to PSH was previously for single women (61 beds)
  • Templum House closed and merged with the DVC program (community saw loss of three actual Domestic Violence shelters for women and families to one) (8 beds lost)
  • Continue Life both transitional and emergency shelter for pregnant women (18 total beds) in two buildings.
  • Abdenour House for people with AIDS (5 beds).
  • Hitchcock Center stopped being a shelter and became a treatment program--must pay to stay (28 beds lost)
  • University Settlement had two transitional shelter building and were the first program lost locally. (18 beds)
  • Upstairs Program operated by Care Alliance for women with a mental illness (16 beds)

Total Beds lost 479 over last dozen years in Cleveland. We hope that Y-Haven will find the funding to continue and we will not lose those additional 113 beds.  On the positive side we got Zacchaeus House as a replacement for Family Transitional with the ability to serve 14 families in scattered sites and not fixed units that are owned by the agency.  The Salvation Army Women's shelter has room for more families (16 additional units).   We also have Seasons of Hope which is a small house that can serve about 4 to 6 women in a no questions asked facility.  So, we lost 479 beds and gained 35 beds for an overall net loss of 444 beds locally.  We did not lose that money from the federal government.  In fact, we have much more money going to housing for homeless people than we did in 2000.  This money goes to Permanent Supportive Housing (620 new fixed units and about 300 new housing vouchers) and the Rapid Rehousing program which provides three months of rental assistance to families. 

We have fundamentally changed how we serve homeless people in Cleveland from a temporary shelter bed system to a housing program. We lost other beds that were reserved for mentally ill people and addicted folks, but those were not really shelter beds.  This was the expectation pushed by HUD and dutifully implemented by Ruth Gillett at the County Office of Homeless Services. After all, they are the Department of Housing and Urban Development and not the Federal Shelter Department.   The problem with this strategy is that there are a lot of people who need the level of care that they get in shelter that they do not get by being placed into housing. The reality is that housing is much more expensive than shelter so you can only serve a fraction of the number you can serve in a congregate living facility. They claimed this was all based on research and economics, but these "consultants and experts" said the same thing when they brought the concept of transitional shelters to Cleveland in the 1980s. 

The HUD/Ruth Gillett strategy would have worked if the economy had recovered with more jobs available locally or if disability payments would allow people to pay for an apartment or if we were building more housing locally and rental costs were falling.  None of this happened and so we are at a point that there is only one place left for single women struggling with housing.  We have a system overwhelmed with families looking for a bed to the point that we have an overflow system for families.  We also saw a record number of homeless kids this last school year at the Cleveland Metro School District.  I am afraid we are moving back to the days when there are 60 guys sleeping on Superior Avenue.  If we loose the men's transitional programs, the shelters will become extremely overcrowded similar to what we saw in the 1990s in Cleveland. Or will we put time limits on shelters, open the basement of the welfare building or garage floors, or will we begin to turn people away on a daily basis?  Someone needs to fund temporary spaces for people struggling because they got kicked out by their spouse or parents.  Some agency needs to see the value of places for people to live as they recover from a major health issue.  Where do all the sexually based offenders live when they are branded with a scarlet letter for life?

Y-Haven had its issues, but was extremely valuable to the hundreds of men who need time to recover.  When a guy hits bottom and loses everything, he needs some time to get his life together and rejoin society.  The County and HUD are telling him, "too bad; sleep on the street for a period of time." It is tough to recover, take a shower, find a job, type a resume, recharge your phone all while sleeping on Superior. 

Brian Davis

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Sr Donna Hawk: 1943 to 2015

She was a hawk, befitting her name, on the near West Side of Cleveland protecting homeless people.  My first memory of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless was a picture of four tough looking women on the front of the Plain Dealer Metro section being sworn in as Deputy Registrars to assist homeless people to vote.  This was in early 1990s and they looked like no one would mess with them.  They had won the right for homeless people to use a park bench as an address to vote, and all of the volunteers in the back of the photo were going to fan out and bring social justice to the community.  The one on the right with her hand up being sworn in was Donna Hawk who passed away last night.  Sister Donna Hawk was never intimidated by power or the powerful.   She helped to found Transitional Housing Inc. out of an abandoned motel on the near West Side of Cleveland (now called Front Steps).   She had a deep love for helping women even those who have made mistakes in their life.

Sr. Donna was a part of the Coalition at its founding in 1987.  She was the County appointment to the Office of Homeless Services. She worked to bring more resources to the struggle to end homelessness and create safe places for those without housing.  Sr. Donna stood up to neighbors who responded to homeless people with fear.  It is always difficult to argue with a nun.  She embarrassed politicians into finding a space at night for everyone who requested help.  Sr. Donna was a strong, opinionated champion for mending the social safety net.  She believed that government could solve problems and that by focusing on a problem elected offiicals can allieviate human suffering. 

Sister Donna Hawk did not always agree with the direction of the Coalition or our advocacy positions, but family members often disagree.  At the end of the day on the big issues we agreed that it was an injustice people had to spend time without a home.  We agreed that the richest society to ever exist could find a way to provide housing to every one living in our city.  We agreed that women need additional attention and resources because the overwhelming majority who experience homelessness have a history of serious abuse leading to an emergency.

Sister Donna Hawk Funeral Liturgy:

Monday, February 2, 2015, 10:00 AM

St. Joseph Center at the Sisters of St. Joseph mother house – 3430 Rocky River Dr.

Celebrant: Father Bob Begin

Here is the Congressional Statement from Dennis Kucinich recognizing her work in Cleveland:

"Madam Speaker, I rise today in honor and recognition of Sister Donna L. Hawk of Cleveland, Ohio, as she is named the West Side Catholic Center’s Walk in Faith recipient of 2009. Throughout her life, Sister Donna Hawk has turned her faith into action, uplifting the lives of those living on the streets. Sister Donna has become a nationally-known leader by creating and operating transitional housing for the homeless, especially for women and their children fleeing domestic violence. While working for many years as a volunteer at the West Side Catholic Shelter, Sister Donna developed a special compassion for women, many of whom had young children seeking refuge from abusive situations.  In 1986, without funding, Sister Donna teamed with Sister Loretta Schulte to rally community leaders and developers in order to transform a motel on Cleveland’s west side into Transitional Housing, Inc.—a place of shelter and source of counseling and resources for women and children in need. For more than twenty years, Transitional Housing,Inc. has served as a model for similar programs throughout the nation and across the world."


Brian Davis

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Ohio News Updates

Cincinnati Councilman introduces a law to protect against hate crimes.  The article mentions that Cleveland has a hate crimes law, but it is a mere formality.  It only applies to misdemeanors and is a recommendation not a requirement. How many attacks on homeless people were ever misdemeanors?  It was a feel good piece of legislation.  The Cincinnati folks want something with more teeth to address a rise in attacks on homeless people in the Queen City. 

Additional state dollars given to the shelters in and around Cleveland.  In the face of three years of federal cuts backs and shelters that closed in 2014, there is a small amount of support from the state.  Emergency shelters have been starved for funds and these state dollars will not close the gap.  It will keep hope alive that more funds are coming, but it will not make up for the huge loss of public support shelters have faced since the downturn.  The trend in Washington is to fund expensive housing for the people who have been homeless the longest, veterans and young people.  Everyone else is out of luck trying to find help in the face of budget cuts.  In Cleveland this means nine months of overflow for families.  

US Conference of Mayors report released including a number of Ohio cities.  Take the data with a huge grain of salt.  They are typically just asking one guy at City Hall what they think about homelessness and hunger.  These guys call around to advocates, United Way or food programs and pull a figure out of the air.  They are typically based on nothing hard or solid and they vary throughout the country.  So, there is no way to compare Cleveland to Chicago or San Diego.  But they do have the bigger trends in our community dead on.  We are seeing huge increases in families and more people seeking help with food.   We are seeing more young people who are homeless because we are finally paying attention to this problem.  Despite the turn around, wages are still stagnant and people are then becoming homeless.  Affordable housing is still out of touch for many living in cities with huge waiting lists and housing being taken out of the inventory because of age.  So, pay attention to the message but ignore the numbers in the report.

Front Steps is rebranded name of Transitional Housing Inc.  The program started back in the 1980s when a bunch of nuns got together to fill a need for single women without a place to live.   They found an abandoned traveler's cheap motel that was slipping into the river as their home.   It featured 60 individual apartments for homeless women with a unique funding stream which was the brain child of a few near west politicians including Mary Rose Oakar.   It was owned by CMHA, but run by this non-profit organization and funded through the HUD Homeless Continuum and not the public housing funding.   It was funded as an innovative program before HUD was giving a regular allocation to each city to address homelessness.  The problem for many in the community was that those who got into the shelter then could transfer to a public housing unit so they were bypassing the waiting list.   In 2012, the program went through a strategic plan with the County staff and many others sitting in and offering suggestions.  It was decided by CMHA and the THI non-profit to move to permanent supportive housing model and away from transitional shelter.  This resulted in a huge cut to the homeless funding and an expansion to serve men.  They set up a special waiting list at CMHA and had to negotiate between three organizations to get people into the housing.  We will miss the transitional shelter in the community where every unit turns over about once a year to a program that is, well...permanent.  Housing programs typically only have a turn over rate of between 5 to 10 percent each year.  This only adds to the problem of single women trying to find a temporary shelter bed in the community.  We welcome more housing, but the cost is that people women have a harder time finding a short term place for their housing emergencies. 

Brian Davis

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Good News and the Bad News for Shelters

The budget compromise worked out in Congress over the last two weeks will allow funds going to homeless programs to increase by 9% for 2014.  The problem is that getting to that point will mean some tough choices, and those programs cannot be made whole in 2014.  This year and last we had to cut programs and reduce administrative costs.  Last year, every group took a 5% cut in funds.  Nationally, this is a $80 million above the pre Sequester level of $2.03 billion in 2013. This will mean an additional $2.16 million locally in 2014 for homeless and housing programs.  In the last month, the County decided to cut a number of programs and submit four projects that may or may not get funding. The rules do not allow going back and restoring the funds cut over the last few years, and a couple of projects will most likely have closed down over the last few years. 

What does this mean in Cleveland on the ground?  First, most of the transitional programs in the community will see a cut in their federal allocation in 2014.  These shelters will have to figure out how to find local or other funding to maintain services.  Two projects are not seeking federal dollars and will most likely close down in 2014.  Bridging the Gap, NEOCH's former housing program will cease operations in the summer.  It does not house the hundreds it did in the early 2000s, but we do not want to lose any programs that help to house people.  The other program that will have a significant impact on the community is the loss of Continue Life shelter for pregnant women.  This program goes back 20 years and was a response by the religious community to the abortion debate.  Deeply religious folks created this shelter as a place for women to go to get help as an alternative to giving up the child.  The building needs a great deal of help and there is not the level of support in our community that we saw in the 1980s for this facility.  

West Side Catholic has applied for additional funding to serve the pregnant women who previously used the Continue Life shelter.   This would mean no loss in the number of beds available to families in the community, but these would be scattered site transitional units.  Families would not live together in one facility, but would have their own space to live and regular contact with a social worker/housing specialist. Lakewood Community Services, LMM 2100 Lakeside Shelter, Frontline Services Safe Haven and the Norma Herr Women's shelter are all going to have to compete with other programs around the country for any funds left after the prioritized shelters are funded.   In Cleveland, we had $25.180 million needed to renew all the previously funded programs at the level of 2012.   We only have access to $23.995 million because Sequestration in the 2013 budget, which is being distributed in 2014. 

Because of the priorities in Washington, it is unlikely that supportive services only programs like Bridging the Gap or the local hiring of outreach workers to go out and build relationships with those outside and resistant to shelter will be funded as a new project.  A project will have a hard time trying to apply for additional funds to recoup losses over the last two years.  Transitional housing shelters are also not favored by either the local funders or HUD in Washington so it is unlikely that these programs will be able to find additional funding.  The new priority is funding housing programs, homeless prevention or permanent supportive housing programs. 

Brian Davis

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Sequestration: Shelters Face Uncertain New Year

There was a vote today on the recommendations for shelter funds for 2014.  These are federal dollars from the 2013 allocation from HUD which involves a 5% cut because of Sequestration.   To fully fund all of our currently funded shelters, services, and housing programs for homeless people we need $24,608,600 and HUD is only giving us $23,995,100.  This means that a few of the shelters will face a large cut in funding and another group of services/shelters will not know if they are going to get funded at all until February 2014.  For five facilities in Cleveland, they are going to wait to see if HUD picks their project based on the amount of money unspent at the national level and competition from every other city in America. 

There are a number of projects which will see a cut in 2014.  The Cleveland Tenants Organization Bridging the Gap program and the County Planning grants will both be eliminated in 2014.  NEOCH started Bridging the Gap back in 1990s, and in its prime it was housing over 100 people per year for the relatively small amount of $55,000 per year in Federal dollars.  We had received other local funding and an AmeriCorps grant to provide additional staff, but they program had a huge impact back in the early 2000s.   The BTG staff helped CMHA to improve their occupancy rate, opened up regular meetings with the housing authority application's staff and figured out a way to place the hardest to serve in our shelters into housing.  The program had dwindled to serving only a handful of people under CTO, but the program will be missed.   I still get calls from alumni of the program who thank us for helping them get into housing even today.

Around 80% of the federal funding for homeless services goes to Permanent Supportive Housing.  It is difficult to cut these programs because that would mean that the units either sit vacant or the disabled residents in these units will not have social service help.  In the plan that the County is submitting none of the PSH programs are slated to be cut.  The transitional housing programs take a huge blow as does street outreach.  Neither HUD nor the County are in love with transitional housing shelters anymore.  Staff from both HUD and the County view these programs as fads from the 1980s which keep people homeless too long and screen out the hardest to serve.  So, the Salvation Army transitional housing programs take a cut as does the Y-Haven program which will see a $50,000 reduction.  The West Side Catholic collaboration with the Domestic Violence and THI transitional housing program even though it was ranked with high marks received a cut and the Transitional Housing Inc. (THI) program also received a substantial cut in the 2013 plan.  The Frontline Services outreach and payee program for mentally ill people was cut in half which means that there will be 2 fewer outreach staff on the streets of Cleveland in 2014. 

These cuts are a direct result of Sequestration and the inability for Congress to agree on a budget.  We said over and over that we would not see the full results of Sequestration until 2014, and now it is time to pay the piper for Washington austerity and ineptitude.  We saw more families show up to request shelter in 2013 and yet we are going to see 5% fewer federal dollars to meet that need.  It is also a strange backward world in Washington where HUD officials push us to focus on youth, but not giving us money to carry out those goals.  All the money is going to long term homeless or those defined by HUD as having been documented to be on the streets for over a year typically with a disability, but homeless youth do not fall in these categories.  They couch surf which make them lose their eligibility for long term homeless programs as defined by HUD.   The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has also downplayed outreach, but how do we find these long term homeless without outreach?  Those who need permanent supportive housing are not in the shelters they are living on the streets.  It is impossible to document these guys as being homeless without outreach workers.  There is no doubt HUD has been crippled by Congressional cuts, but they are not revising their strategies to meet the new funding reality in Washington.  We cannot carry out all these goals of serving those leaving foster care, the long term disabled and increasing homeless families if we have fewer dollars.  The pie cannot be cut into any smaller pieces especially if HUD is not giving us enough money to keep our doors open.  

There are five projects who are not being recommended in the first "Tier" of funding.  These programs have no idea if they will receive any money in 2014.  They are going to have to compete against every other "Tier 2" recommended project in the United States. All the Tier 1 programs (31 locally) are safe for 2014 funding as long as HUD qualifies our local Cuyahoga application.  If HUD has any money left after all the Tier 1 projects are funded, they will rank all the Tier 2 funded projects in the United States and take the top projects until all the money is used.  So, our projects recommended in Tier 2 will compete against those in Seattle, Los Angeles, Columbus and Boston for funding.   There is a small grant for the main Men's Shelter (2100 Lakeside) and the main Women's Shelter (Norma Herr) being recommended in Tier 2.  There is a small housing grant to Lakewood Community Services for rental assistance to those on the West Side of Cuyahoga County and a supportive service grant to Frontline Services for mentally ill homeless people.  The biggest hit to our community is the Continue Life program which serves pregnant women.  Continue Life has struggled for the last five years and is looking for merger opportunities, but it is the only project that serve pregnant women in need of shelter.  It is a critical project that could be lost if they do not receive federal support. 

We congratulate the staff of the County Office of Homeless Services including Ruth Gillett and Shari Weir for putting this all together.  They coordinate a review of every project every year.  This year they will finish the 2013 round in January and will immediately start the 2014 funding application which will need to be submitted in March 2014.  (More proof of how messed up Washington has become).  They rank these projects and help a committee make these recommendations to County Council and the County Executive.   They met with the Homeless Congress about these cuts to solicit their ideas.  They met with social service providers to walk through some of these concerns.  Coalition staff are concerned about the future of the Continue Life program and the reduction in outreach, but the County plan seems to be the best we could do in a tough spot.  I do not understand the changes at THI, but it seems that this project is changing to a permanent housing program and the homeless funds will only serve a small number of transitional housing residents left in the building.  These cuts recommended by the County seem to be a move away from homeless funding to a permanent housing funding stream for THI. 

We can be angry that our priority project is being cut. We can voice our displeasure over the cuts.  We could turn on the County and ask why was our project cut and not theirs, but NEOCH staff would advise against this strategy. This is the County making the best of a bad situation.  The easy way out would have just been a 5% across the board cut, but this plan took a huge amount of work to balance all the needs in the community.  We should reserve all of our disappointment and anger for Congress.  In a time of housing instability and slow job growth, we should be adding funds for homeless services not cutting.  It is shameful to cut housing, support services, or shelter when there are so many women with children seeking help.  We can be confused by HUD's decision to press on with four different priorities when the local community is struggling to keep their heads above water, but the problem is caused entirely by our elected leaders in Washington not doing their jobs.  The people who will not be able to access housing because they lose contact with their outreach staff can blame the US House of Representatives.  If the pregnant women's shelter is not funded and women cannot find a place to live they need to call their US Senator to complain.  If the transitional shelters have to reduce their size because of the cuts and have beds sit empty, look to the US Congress for responsibility. 

Brian Davis

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Homeless Congress--Shelter Standards Update

YesterdaySilk, a regular at the Congress, at the Transformational Art Center, we had a lively Homeless Congress meeting with County Councilman Dale Miller.  The purpose of this meeting was to talk about the State of the Shelters, and do we need a law to govern the shelters.  Bottom line was that nearly everyone at the meeting felt that it was important to continue the effort to pass a law that would regulate the shelters.  County Councilman Dale Miller welcomed the crowd and told them of some of the funds that the county had spent recently on homeless services.  Besides funding nearly every shelter, they had extended funds to the Metanoia Project and the Homeless Stand Down.  Miller mentioned that he had provided funds for a new Third Party grievance procedure which the Coalition had opposed.  [Our position is that the group handling grievances for homeless people should not have a daily relationship with the shelters that the residents are complaining about.  It is like a judge in a trial also owning a business and then this judge weighing in on employee lawsuits for his suppliers and business partners.]

Dale Miller attended the meeting to hear from residents of the shelters.  The County Office of Homeless Services position is that legislation is not necessary because the Office had updated the contracts with the shelters over some concerns of homeless people and put into the contracts new administrative rules that they have to follow.  It seemed as though the Council had accepted these rules as an alternative to passing a law.  Homeless people who use the shelters did not agree.  They said:

  • Staff at the shelter are not trained properly to deal with homeless people
  • The staff do not have the knowledge of the resources available to homeless people in the community.
  • There was a lot of concern about the lack of programming at the Community Women's Shelter compared to the services available at West Side Catholic and 2100 Lakeside.  There was a great deal of anger that women just sit around all day waiting for help.
  • Questions were raised about the expense of constantly sending EMS to the two big shelters.  Isn't there a better alternative to have more nurses in the shelter?
  • The staff are not taking the time to help people move out of the shelters quicker.
  • Why isn't there more punishment for people who break the rules such as pulling the fire alarm in the middle of the night at the women's shelter.
  • More GED programs in all the facilities needed.
  • Is there any evidence that shows the difference between shelters that offer programs vs. those that have decided to only be an overnight shelter?
  • We need more overnight drop in centers like Metanoia and safe access to showers.
  • There were many complaints about the grievance procedures. 
  1. Unfair that only another staff decides on the grievance (not impartial)
  2. There is a problem with retaliation when a homeless person files a grievance.
  3. Most of the time the punishment is enforced before the grievance is ever heard.
  4. There is no punishment for staff who were wrong in the grievances. 
  • Physically disabled have problems at nearly every shelter. 
  • Why don't the shelters hire from within (formerly homeless people)?
  • There is still a problem with people getting food who have a special diet. (Hopefully this will be solved with the introduction of the Central Kitchen.)
  • Is there any oversight of both Permanent Supportive Housing to see if people are going back to shelter? And the same question was asked about North Point Transitional Shelter.
  • There was concern about the focus on jobs exclusively at North Point and not on other programming. 

Nearly all the concerns are addressed in our shelters standards, which we have posted on our website.  The Congress members were assigned County Council members to ask that a law be introduced.  The prisons, nursing homes, mental health and developmentally disabled facilities all have laws that protect residents.  Shelters do not have minimum standards.  We need these NOW!!!

Brian Davis

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Boycott Western and Southern

Across this country, affordable and transitional housing saves lives

by providing many people with the opportunity to succeed and live the fulfilling lives they deserve.  Sadly, affordable housing is under an increasing attack.  People in need of affordable housing are criminalized and stereotyped.  In Cincinnati, Ohio, this attack is at an all-time high.  There are many examples from around the country, but chief among them is the attack on the Anna Louise Inn.  For 102 years the Anna Louise Inn (ALI) has provided affordable housing to women.  The structure in which ALI is housed was built by the President William Howard Taft's family and donated to the manager of ALI, Cincinnati Union Bethel (CUB) in 1909.  The Tafts opened their hearts and wallets to homeless women in a prominent place in Cincinnati.  They did not try to hide this impressive building in the country or some place off the beaten path.  Talking to people in Cincinnati, it does not take very long before you will meet those who say, “Oh, ALI saved my mom’s life or my aunt’s or my wife’s or my sister’s…” 

Cincinnati Union Bethel has worked for years to create a plan to serve the growing number of homeless women and they received funds to renovate the Anna Louise Inn in order to continue for another 100 years to provide safe, quality affordable housing.  Western and Southern (W&S), the very large, very wealthy national insurance company, has their headquarters near the Anna Louise Inn.  Western and Southern decided that they do not want the women who live at ALI to live near their offices anymore and in fact W&S wants to take over the building in order to build luxury condominiums and play areas for the wealthy.  They have launched a campaign to oust ALI on the misguided notion that women with very low incomes are dangerous and bad for business.  W&S went as far as to sue the non-profit that runs ALI, Cincinnati Union Bethel and the municipal government, in attempt to delay the project.  The goal was to run out the clock on the tax credits issued to ALI to expand thus threatening the Anna Louise Inn’s very existence and the lives of so many seeking refuge from the financial storms of the last five years.  Western and Southern has championed itself as a corporate leader in Cincinnati, but has acted to divide the city and pit one class against another.  The advocates in Cincinnati are asking for a national boycott to remind this national corporation that every community needs to find a home for women struggling in our society.  We have to send a message to Western and Southern- women and affordable housing are valuable and contribute to our society and should not be pushed to the fringes.   One of the largest insurance companies in the United States must stop the legal actions against Anna Louise Inn, and figure out a way to quickly move these women back into the community so that they will have enough disposible income to be able to afford life insurance.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Board has endorsed this boycott, and supports the message that Western and Southern needs to accept the Anna Louise Inn and assist their expansion of the transitional shelter and the permanent supportive housing project.  We want to see Western and Southern drop any further lawsuits. 

What can you do:

  • Sign on to the Petition at Change.org
  • If you have life insurance from Western and Southern or they manage your finances consider looking somewhere else for your insurance needs or financial advice.
  • If you are a business and have any financial relationship with Western and Southern consider a resolution to move your funds or take your business to another organization that has a more neighborly relationship with its home city.
  • Boycott the Western and Southern Tennis Tournament this summer in Cincinnati. Instead send those dollars down to the Anna Louise Inn or the Cincinnati Coalition to support homeless women.


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