Sleeping Downtown Cleveland 2015
These are the numbers of homeless people sleeping outside during our annual Thanksgiving weekend count. This year saw a pretty large increase from the three sleeping outside in 2012 to 2014 to eight in 2015.
This number nowhere near the dark days of 1998 with 60 people sleeping around the welfare building and on Public Square, but it does reverse a trend from the last three years. It could be an anomaly because of the nicer weather, but I seem to remember 2012 being a warmer Black Friday. It could be that the larger number of women and families requesting shelter translates to larger numbers outside even though we did not count any women downtown last week. The longer that a shelter is operated the more people who have a negative experience at that facility and will not go back. The longer we have 2100 Lakeside as the main shelter for men, the more likely that a low income individual will have some contact with the facility. They may have stayed there and had their documents stolen or gotten in a physical altercation with another resident. They may have been disrespected by a staff or a volunteer and may have decided to not return. We have not seen a radical change in the shelter since 2002-3 when the shelter was taken by a different non-profit and could say, "Give us a try, we have all new management." The large number of people sleeping on the West Side may view the relative open space downtown as attractive. Shelter resistant people may be moving back downtown because the West Side is "overcrowded," and they value their solitude.
Other potential reasons for the increase:
- Lack of Rapid rehousing funds to meet the demand
- Long housing waiting lists
- A sudden change in the hours for Coordinated Intake causing confusion and longer stays at shelter