Women’s Shelter Had Serious Problems


by Marguerite Perdue

            I’m writing in reference [to], and concern with the Catholic Shelter for Homeless Women at the Cosgrove Center. My main, and most concern is how the homeless women are treated, and spoken to from some of the staff at the shelter. There’s no need for names to be mentioned because I’m sure they know who they are.

            The most hurting part of the entire situation for homeless women is how they are spoken to because of the fact that you’re homeless. You are treated very cruelly by some staff members, spoken to like dogs or less than, which makes me very, very upset.

            People should truly realize and understand that they could be in the same situation as any homeless individual, that they’re only a paycheck away from homelessness themselves, but in all reality they don’t believe, or suspect that is could happen. Its very, very unfair how staff talks, and treats the mentally challenged homeless women. This matter really needs some attention. God doesn’t like ugly, and he isn’t too keen about pretty, but everyone should be treated with the utmost respect as long as its given.

            I, Marguerite Perdue, believe in that slogan, because I give respect where respect is due. I sit up and I observe the women at the shelter and how they are treated, and even though I’m homeless myself at the present, I really feel sorry for them. The homeless situation especially for the women is getting worse than better, and it’s pitiful, but that is why God has a certain and particular place for the ones that totally disrespect the homeless.

            Channel 8 news, and staff that has focused on the Women’s Shelter has come into the shelter to check out certain situations but that has done no good. I pray that something is done about this cruel manner of how the homeless are being treated, and taken into the hands of someone that has a heart.

            I mean that with all respect, and reality. Always put yourself in someone else’s place. Abuse has taken its toll at the Catholic Women’s Shelter. I truly hope and trust that people that do care about the homeless situation at the Catholic Women and throughout the Cleveland, Ohio area, or any area, please give some concerns and help. Just know that it could happen to any individual, but that doesn’t mean that we have to be treated without respect. In all reality it’s a very, very sad situation that truly needs some attention, that I feel will happen, because I never give up on Hope!

            I received comments from a lot of homeless women, and staff about this situation, and I truly wish that I could’ve taped it. I’ve sold the Homeless Grapevine newspaper for quite some time now and I’ve written articles, but this is the most important, and sensitive article that has touched me, not only my heart, but my mind, and soul, that doesn’t make me feel very good about it at all.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Vendor Blames Bush Administration for Poverty Increase


by Marsha Rizzo Swanson

            I am writing on behalf of myself and others I know who live in poverty. We know that when we sell the homeless paper, the Grapevine, in freezing weather that the people we sell to and buy the paper from us have an understanding about how we feel. Some don’t have an idea of what is happening or don’t want to know (COME ON) the world that we live in.

            This is a serious situation that our vendors and the homeless are going through. It is not easy to live in poverty. The mental health system, health care, and housing are not what they should be. Our tax dollars and the government are not doing their jobs. Their promises to give to the people are such lies. Our government lies to the people, then take an oath to serve and honor we the people that puts them in office.

            There should be a law that if the party voted into office lies they should be impeach. When you make a promise that promise should be kept. The law should serve the people and if not then an impeachment should follow. I believe that we the people will get what we vote for and the government will think before running for office. When running for office it is for the people and not to see how you can embezzle the government.

            Nice people have good intentions when running but sometimes power goes to their heads. We just say, “Well, they’re politicians and what do you expect.” But they don’t have to be just politicians. They need to be for the people and end the evil of being a politician. They need to work under the guidelines of In God We Trust, as it says on the money we spend. They need to live the way people should, love, honor, and know that we are the people of America, not aliens from Mars where George W. Bush wants to invest our money.

            We should invest our money to help people. We are the richest nation, and we should not have our homeless and impoverished freezing in zero temperatures, and the sick suffer and die because they have no money to pay for prescription-drugs or to pay to go to the hospital. My mother went to the hospital, and the doctor talked with my mother and asked her if she had insurance. Mom said no, so they sent her home. Nice job our nation is doing for the people.

            I’ll give you another example. I went to the doctor, and he gave me a prescription for congestion. I went to the drugstore. The druggist knew me. I always get my prescriptions filled at the same drugstore. But the economy does not mean a thing to the pharmacy people who fill the prescriptions. It is not their responsibility to know what we need. I did not have $26 to get the prescription that my doctor gave me, so I had to stay sick longer and wait to get what I needed. I was so sick that my doctor thought I had pneumonia.

            It scared me when they sent me to the hospital. I had an x-ray. When I left the hospital, it was after hours, so it was another three days before I got my prescription, so I was sick much longer.

            What is this nation coming to? The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Our minimum wage is $5.25 an hour. A family of four cannot get food, housing, medical and live in a normal state of mind to take care of their family.

            We need our minimum wage to be $12 an hour. We need to vote and hold politicians accountable for what they say to the people poverty is very hard on. The mother who works every day and one day gets sick and has no hospital insurance because it is hard to support her children. It doesn’t mean a thing to the politicians because they don’t live in poverty, a little word that is life threatening to the single mother that has children.

            I have Jesus in my heart, and I know what it is to live in poverty. I just serve my God and hope for the best because the word of my lord is better then what the politicians can tell me. When you say, “God bless you” to your nation, it is time to search yourself and see what you mean about poverty. Open your hearts to your nation. God bless America is a big phrase to say unless you mean it.

            The meaning of poverty is when you have a low income but have a roof over your head and exist from day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute. What is the meaning of poverty? People existing on a hairline of a string that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and the Republicans do not think can happen. They don’t want to know. They say that there will not be a child left behind. They need to know that we the people know that they mean their children won’t be left behind.

            The people know that it is not the rich who suffer. It is the poor. We know that they mean their children will not be left behind while the federal government is holding millions of dollars, cutting our benefits, such as food stamps. While our utilities skyrocket so the people cannot afford to even have adequate housing and adequate education. It is a lie that no child will be left behind.

            Workers who have not worked for 15 months have nowhere to turn because their unemployment has run out, and they stop looking for jobs, stability. If you work at McDonalds don’t think that will take care of a family; it will not.

            Our factories have been exported to other countries for cheap labor. What is our nation coming to? The war has made our families unhappy; their children are being killed. We have well over 500 men and women who were killed in Iraq. In the United States, 3,000,000 jobs have been lost and 252,000 jobs have been lost in Ohio alone. It looks like Washington is passing a budget they have no idea about. America is living with homelessness that it accepts.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Radio Marathon Broadcast from Cleveland

by Joseph Perrelli

            The Annual Homelessness Radio Marathon came to Cleveland on Thursday, February 12, just two days before the start of the Stand Down that weekend. The marathon ran on radio stations throughout the country for 14 hours, starting at 7pm. Locally, the marathon was broadcast on WRUW 91.1 FM - the radio station of CWRU.

            Homeless people and friends of the homeless community throughout the country called in on the toll-free hotline to share their experiences with homelessness.

            At St. Malachi’s Center on the near West side, a crowd of homeless individuals from the local community gathered to enjoy a hot meal, coffee, and sweets being served throughout the night and to grab a cot during the radio show. Those in attendance were grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of the marathon and took pleasure in the sense of community at St. Malachi’s.

            Many of those in attendence posed questions and made comments on topics ranging from homelessness in literature to the environmental effects of homelessness. Democratic presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich even stopped in to say a few words before his appearance on the Tonight Show.

            Because the radio marathon was open to participants throughout the country, the calls that came in presented a picture of homelessness and views on the issue from different regions. This brought in calls that were understanding about homelessness and calls that were a bit more caustic about the situation that many people face.

            The Homelessness Marathon started as an offshoot of a radio program on NPR- affiliated WEOS in Geneva, NY back in 1998. Jeremy Weir Alderson, the program’s founder, knows that “homelessness continues to be a silent issue, and [that] we will do whatever it takes to give homeless people a voice”. This is a valuable asset to the homeless community, and is recognized by advocates on a large scale. The 14-hour radio broadcast — the longest regularly scheduled public affairs program in America — is “the most significant media event focusing on homelessness and poverty” according to Donald Whitehead, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless.

            We were very fortunate to have the radio marathon take place here in Cleveland this year and will follow it on the rest of its journey through the US. For more information on the Homelessness Marathon and highlights from the broadcast at St. Malachi’s, visit www.homelessnessmarathon.org.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004.

Memorial Marks Death of Homeless

Comments by Brian Davis at the Homeless Memorial Day 2004.

December 21, 2004 at Trinity Cathedral. Cleveland Ohio.

            “We must come together another year because homelessness has not ended in the United States. We have witnessed 17 years of poverty and deaths relating to homelessness here locally. We could talk about the 6% increase reported by First Call for Help in calls requesting shelter or the 14% reported earlier in the year to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. We could discuss the 2,000 people every night who find shelter and the other 1,800 who cannot find a place to stay every night in Cleveland. But why talk about that when all we have to do is look around and see the tired, worn out faces of those who eat a meal on Sundays at Trinity Cathedral.

            We could talk about some of the statistics like the over $14 per hour that a family needs to make per hour in order to afford a two bedroom apartment. We could talk about the 9,000 households waiting for a public housing unit or the 35,000 who applied for a voucher the last time that the Section 8 voucher program was open. We saw increases in shelter, increase in children that are homeless and increases in poverty in Cleveland. A short discussion with the families present today would provide us the context for the housing crisis that exists in Cleveland.

            We can talk about the $13 million that Cuyahoga County received in December from the Federal government to address homelessness at the same time we are losing a great deal of affordable housing in our community. We have tremendous threats facing people with low incomes including a growing gap in healthcare, more decreases in housing, and over 60,000 jobs lost locally in the last three years. We also see an increase in hate crimes directed at homeless people in our own city and especially in Ohio.

            There is great news with the introduction of the legislation called Bringing America Home that would make great strides to reducing the number of homeless people. This has to be tempered with the reality that the guys who sleep on the street cannot wait for the Bring America Home Act to pass. They need help today.

            We are here today to mourn the loss of talented, brilliant, and wonderful citizens of the United States who died before their time. We remember those who could not find subsidized housing or residential treatment or those who self medicated themselves to death. We are saddened that veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who honorably served but came home and could not keep housing. We see a future with even more veterans who die homeless.

            We remember those with personal battles with their own health problems that make it difficult to make decisions or those terrified to be around others and die alone on the streets.

            The symbol of how little progress that we have made in this society is that a man froze to death in our nations capital just before this memorial day. In the heart of power, in the seat of power that with one stroke of the pen could end homelessness with one vote could allow its citizens to sleep on the street and die of one of the most painful deaths imaginable.

            The Coalition for the Homeless lost a good friend last year when a women who had just gotten off the streets and was putting her life together, Savetta Durrah died. She passed on the day that her portrait was unveiled at a local gallery, and just down the street from where she had found housing. Savetta Durrah passed away to early. The other names of people whose lives were cut short because of homelessness include:

            Jimmy the Preacher


            Wesley Jones

            John Jones Jr.

            Ben Apalategui

            William Robinson

            Willie Newell

            Edwardo Lauriano

            Elliot Worthy

            Tyrone Jordan

            Keith Biebighauser

            Victor Foley

            Stanley Ford

            Paul Braski

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Local Agencies Reach Out

by Katarina Brkic

As bitter temperatures linger throughout Northeast Ohio, homeless people have found support through many local agencies and their outreach efforts, which are lending help to those in need.

            The PATH program, Projects and Assistance Transition from Homelessness, overseen through Mental Health Services, has focused on the needs of the homeless since the late 1980’s. David Bound, program director, has led PATH for the past ten years, and primarily deals specifically with mentally disabled homeless individuals.

            PATH’s main goal is to locate mentally disabled cases and bring them in to seek psychiatric help, or hospitalization if necessary. Outreach workers will search shelters and scan the streets for mentally challenged individuals, who are often battling many mental issues, including clinical schizophrenia. The incoherent state of these individuals disable them from making logical decisions, like seeking shelter when temperatures are unbearably cold. The mentally ill sometimes fail to think rationally, which eventually makes them a threat to themselves. The threat of loss of limbs due to frostbite or many other illnesses that come from being outside are all preventable with early intervention.

            Once an outreach worker locates a case, they begin what is called the “engagement process.” The worker will begin to form a relationship with the individual in an attempt to gain the individual’s trust so that help will be received rather then rejected. The individual is then advised on certain hygiene issues, and directed toward psychiatric help, hospitalization and meds if needed. The program will search for help with benefits or eligibility for Medicaid and they provide basic resources and housing. With a successful transition and stabilization, the client is then passed through to a Safe Haven and case management.

            According to Bound, the strongest point of the program is “the flexibility of the program”, the ability to pursue homeless cases with no time constraints. The ability to take the time needed for each unique case results in success. However, when asked about weaknesses Bound claims, “that sometimes there is just not enough time, and certain individuals will come back through the program.” Follow up services will continue after the person is housed, but sometimes they refuse continual treatment and a worker will then begin again from square one trying to help.

Volunteers of America

            Another agency offering outreach is Volunteers of America Northeast and North Central Ohio, which has served those in need for over a century. The mission statement at VOA “To aid and uplift humankind” is the backbone to numerous efforts and assistance conducted through members of VOA. With many facilities and programs throughout Northeast and North Central Ohio, the VOA Cleveland Walton Avenue Homeless Program Facility is the one that leads VOA’s effort to assist Cleveland’s homeless.

            In late January due to harsh winter conditions, the Walton Ave. 86-bed men’s facility was booked solid. As January was one of the coldest months this winter the facility was delighted to receive a shipment of 1,000 blankets from the Army Surplus in Philadelphia to help battle the cold temperatures. One young occupant expressed his gratitude for the shelter that has given him a place as a haven while he makes his adjustment from New York to Cleveland.

            The Walton Facility is a men’s shelter that helps those, like the young man from New York, get back on their feet and help individuals become self-sufficient. They tend to the homeless through three different shelter programs; street outreach, learning and health-related programs. The facility also has an emergency shelter program providing 20 beds to those in need, a transitional housing program, a holiday meal program, and other programs.

            The VOA mobile outreach and referral program actively seeks homeless people five days and nights a week. According to Lyle Draper, VOA’s shelter director, the program provides immediate assistance to homeless men. The program gives access to the facility and if those accommodations are refused then blankets, comfort, and a Street Card that lists all the free goods, or a hot cup of coffee and where they are distributed.

            According to Draper, operation at the VOA Walton Ave. shelter runs smoothly and with success but volunteers are always welcomed in order to serve the huge number of people. All types of donations are accepted and most are given back to those in need.

Veterans Affairs Outreach

            The homeless veterans are also provided with many support outlets through the numerous outreach efforts of the Veterans Administration. With a third of homeless males being veterans, the VA activities are extensive. In collaboration with other agencies the VA workers are able to provide needed help to veterans.

            According to VA member Pat Tomcho, VA staff members are placed in numerous locations. Currently there are 3 VA members at Mental Health Services to tend to the mental veterans, 4 VA staff permanently placed at the 2100 Lakeside Salvation Army Men’s Shelter, 4 people responsible for street outreach, and 2 outreach workers concentrate on women veterans. The ability to collaborate with other agencies has allowed the VA to better tend to the veterans, like providing beds especially set aside for veterans at chosen locations.

            According to Tomcho, VA’s outreach programs work with other agencies and work to build capability in order to respond to needs as they surface. As a result, the VA’s decision to outplace staff has succeeded in more efficiently responding to the needs of the veterans according to Tomcho.

            Without the efforts of the dedicated men and women and the coordination of the services, many more people would be lost on the streets alone and disenfranchised. However, the need of the homeless continues to increase and each agency pledges to work together to provide quick and efficient service to those on the streets.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Jay Hotel Owner Misunderstood Saint or Sinner?

Special Commentary to the Homeless Grapevine

by Alexander Hamilton

            Who is the man behind Jay Hotel, formerly located on Jay Avenue, off of West 25th? To most Chuck Minadeo is a man of mystery. Many assume he is nice and because of his troubles of late has been beaten up upon by the government, his neighbors and others. Minadeo is a man who is a complex mix of conservatism and liberalism, two polar opposites warring within the same entity leads for disastrous results when not properly balanced. Others view him as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

            However, to truly know a person you have to study their actions, not just the public ones but also the ones behind the image that is presented to the public. Keep in mind before you judge Mr. Minadeo that we all have made mistakes that we regret and wish we could take back. But that does not make us any less than a person. Minadeo is still a man with a heart that cares even if it is a way that normally would not be accepted as appropriate.

            Minadeo is a man who actually has immeasurable skill and intellect, which caused him to believe wholeheartedly in his own American Dream. He is a small man in stature who wears wire-rimmed glasses and is always neat and clean, and never flashy in dress. This is my view of his story. Minadeo has been the owner of the Jay Hotel for the last 27 years, raising, nurturing and toiling to make a better life for himself and his family. It can be said that he probably believed in leaving a legacy to his family, but not just his family: to the poor and unfortunate as well. In wanting to leave that legacy Minadeo entrusted the management to others and many problems that occurred never reached his ears.

            How could a man with so much passion for his business allow horrible things to happen to a business that had been nurtured and raised for the last 27 years?

It is like a child, when that child is born you love that child and as that child grows up if someone were to come and tell you that your child robbed someone, you would not believe it. You know how your child was raised and nurtured and you would instantly reject the notion of your child being a thief. It is no different for Minadeo, this business, the Jay Hotel, was and still is his passion and losing his “child” is a horrible reality he must face. He was not the willing participant that everyone claimed he was, however when it was brought to his attention that these things were going on he had his own prejudices. His “Child” could do no wrong.

            The Jay Hotel died on October 31, 2003. Minadeo’s dream died along with the dreams and hopes of others who depended on Minadeo to keep it open. The Jay did not close by his choice however; it closed because of the activities that were not taken care of and allowed to get out of hand. The Jay Hotel was reminiscent of the days of old, when a person new to the city could come and if they did not have a lot of money stay in an hotel environment to get back on there feet or whatever the individual case might be.

            The Jay, with its fairly large lobby and picture windows, kept alive the character and nostalgia of those old hotels that housed celebrity and commoner alike. Its character refused to die, when one sees this awesome building one can’t help but feel like you are back in time of yesteryears. To a large extent Minadeo contributed to that nostalgia, by providing a place where someone could go stay and enjoy the taste of hotel life, that they otherwise would not get to enjoy because of income. The Jay was without a question the last of its kind, inarguably a historic landmark its atmosphere was hurt by the numerous drug raids conducted by the sheriffs department and evidence of prostitution and other unfavorable incidences.

            What led to the demise? Many blame Minadeo himself while others blame the community. However, shouldn’t we all take the blame equally instead of pointing the finger? It takes a village to build a community and it is through neighborly love that neighborhoods all across the country have been reformed and are now prospering. There are places where the less advantaged eat side by side with the prosperous and new hope is given rise to the fact the less fortunate ones can also one day return the favor and not only partake in prosperity but also reach down and help another.

            Minadeo has been beaten upon, while he went to numerous meetings or sent a representative no clear solution ever came to fruition. It can be said with a resounding cry for justice for the poor that neither side gave enough effort to say, how can we as a community resolve this pressing issue. Our children are being harmed and our families embarrassed by the behavior that is exhibited by some former residents of the Jay. How can we eliminate this problem and help Minadeo attract people truly in need?

            It would seem that this kind of constructive questioning might have led to a win/win situation. Minadeo should have come to the table and said I acknowledge your concern and am just as perplexed as you are how to solve it, let us work together to rebuild the reputation of this community by coming up with a solution together. Instead he overlooked the outrages of his neighbors and they in turn overlooked the poor who were staying at the Jay Hotel and labeled everyone a druggie or a prostitute, they even went as far as to clap when the sheriffs department carted off suspected drug traffickers, druggies, prostitutes, not caring whether anyone was hurt, traumatized inside or crying because of grief because all they wanted was to get to a prosperous life.

            Minadeo is remorseful and they always say that hindsight is always 20/20. Now he spends time to make sure that the remaining poor or mental patients get into housing, he is after all human and a man with a big heart. He has taught many the ins and outs of managing not just a building but also the people. However there is one rule that he broke that he taught his managers that ultimately led to the demise of the Jay Hotel, and that was never avoid the problem, even if you have to do it yourself, satisfy the customer and they will reward you. That is the intellect of a true businessman that cares and is shrewd. What a different outcome this situation would have if he had followed his own advice and rules.

            Now we come to where do we go from here, Minadeo with all his business acumen will go on to hopefully learn from this experience and still champion for the poor and underrepresented, the community will hopefully look at the zealousness of their own rage and recognize their own faults in celebration of the Jay closing and make amends with killing not only Minadeo’s dream but that of others who had nothing to do with the drugs and prostitution that were associated with the Jay Hotel. Let’s hope that the poor and mental patients who lived there keep their hope and still strive for prosperity. You see in closing, Minadeo should be thanked for at least trying as well as constructively criticized for overlooking problems. You can’t just slap a band-aid on a problem and expect it to heal. Wounds run deep and sometimes they never stop bleeding and Minadeo like all of us needs to be able to heal and know that he is forgiven and has friends in unexpected places.

            Editor’s Note: This is exclusively the opinion of the author and not that of the Homeless Grapevine or its publisher. Hamilton is a former employee of the Jay Hotel, who has started his own hotel on the East Side of Cleveland. He also has advertised in the Homeless Grapevine in the past, and submitted this unsolicited commentary.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Care Alliance Provides Health Care for Homeless

by Colleen Bittner

            Established in 1993, Care Alliance (formerly Cleveland Health Care for the Homeless) was founded as one of the nation’s original Health Care for the Homeless projects. It has grown into a non-profit community health center whose mission is to provide high-quality health care and related services to people who need them most, regardless of their ability to pay, in a manner that is cost-effective and that empowers people to improve their quality of life. There is no other organization in the Cleveland area specifically dedicated to providing health care to this population.

            The mission statement emphasizes not only health care but also empowerment. “We empower people through education and support,” says Chief Executive Officer Linda Somers. “People [who] are struggling with a lot of challenges in their lives aren’t usually paying attention to their health. We help them recognize the importance of taking care of themselves, teach them about preventative care, help them form self-management goals, and let them know about all of the services we offer.”

            The organization is staffed by physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, medical assistants, chemical dependency and behavioral health counselors, dentists and dental assistants. “It takes a special kind of person to work at Care Alliance. Our people have a passion and motivation for what they are doing. They also have a dedication and sensitivity to treating the disadvantaged. They could make more money working elsewhere, but they have chosen to be here,” says Somers. Volunteer physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals augment the professional staff and help Care Alliance meet the demands of a community health center. Altogether, the professional staff and volunteers serve more than 3,500 patients each year.

            Care Alliance operates three health centers that are strategically located throughout the city to reach Cleveland’s most disadvantaged populations. Care Alliance also operates health centers located within two public housing estates managed by the Cuyahoga County Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) and provides medical services on an outreach basis at eight locations throughout Cleveland.

            Services include:

•               Primary health care for all phases of life from pediatric to geriatric

•                Chemical dependency/behavioral health screenings and short-term counseling

•               HIV and AIDS counseling, testing, and treatment.

•                Immunizations

•                Comprehensive dental care, including x-rays, dentures and extractions. Dental services consistently rate high among the most unmet health care need among economically disadvantaged populations. Care Alliance responded to this need by opening two dental clinics in 2002 and was the first in the area to offer full dental services.

•                Diabetes Program. More than 195 homeless diabetics are enrolled in the program. Priscilla Bonner, Coordinator of the Diabetes program, described one success story - a homeless patient with very high blood sugar, on drugs and alcohol, told her diabetes was the last thing on his mind when he met her. Now, he is no longer homeless, and through the Diabetes Program, he has gotten his blood sugar to a normal level, attained eyeglasses and dentures, and completed a drug and alcohol program. “We try to take a person like him, make sure he’s willing to work with us, and teach him how to go from uncontrolled to controlled diabetes.”

            The program stresses self-management. “We don’t do everything for patients. I ask them to pick one thing from a list of ten options that they would like to work on to control their blood sugar - whether it involves diet, smoking, exercise, etc. They work at the goal and get excited when they’ve accomplished it.”

            Bonner offers a diabetes education class/luncheon once a month, with nutritional food and a guest speaker. “We’ve had good attendance at the luncheons, and the patients really open up and ask questions,” she says.

            Somers Takes on CEO role

            Somers, originally from Cleveland, joined Care Alliance as the C.E.O. in February 2003. She had been doing consulting work for the organization since October 2002. She joined the Care Alliance team because she saw it as a way for her to really make a difference. “A large part of my decision to come on board had to do with the fact that I really believe in the Care Alliance’s mission. There is such a huge need to provide health care to people who are underprivileged and in need. Working here is something that I feel good about and that, at the end of the day, makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile,” says Somers.

            Somers earned a bachelor’s degree in social services and an Executive Master of Business Administration from Cleveland State University. She has extensive experience in managed care and social services. Prior to Care Alliance, she served in the Peace Corps, worked as a senior vice-president in a large Washington D.C. hospital, held various roles in medical organizations such as Kaiser and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and worked as a counselor in a crisis center.

             Leadership and Funding

            The Care Alliance Board of Directors, whose members have diverse experience and skills, helps guide and shape the organization. Three client advisory boards (Homeless Client Advisory Board, Public Housing Client Advisory Board, and HIV Client Advisory Council) comprised of consumers of Care Alliance services meet on a regular basis to discuss, evaluate, and make recommendations for improvement.

            In addition to private and other donations, Care Alliance is a partner agency of United Way Services. Care Alliance also receives significant funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration - Bureau of Primary Health Care (HRSA/BPHC).

            Editor’s Note: For more information, visit www.carealliance.org.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


Biting the Hand That Feeds You


by Pete Domanovic

            I am now living in a shelter owned and operated by the Salvation Army, I only need to pay $112.00 per month service fee. Ooh-wee. I am treated with respect, and can make my own decisions about my own life. If I need to work a third shift job, go for it.

The place itself is clean and comfortable, the other clients are easy to get along with, and you can see in their faces that they are not stressed. It would be great if they used it as a national showplace for homeless shelters.

            The most positive thing it has going for it is, the clients are not assigned to any type of caseworker, nor do they have any type of straw boss hanging over their shoulder. Nope, not present. Was this the brainwork of one of the Salvation Army thousands of Administrative Director? No it was not. The Salvation Army had fourteen people left over from their limit of 400 people, and no more extra shelter room in the city. With no where else to put these people, they handed the keys to this building to a [member of the National Service program]. His name is Henry.

            They told him to take these people over there and make them do this and that, until the place is livable. Well, Henry (formerly homeless himself), knew how biting words never drew much enthusiasm from anyone that was being made to do something. Henry asks politely and even joins in on the work. He is constantly frustrated by never receiving anything needed on time, or not at all from the Salvation Army. To this day Henry is told there no money, even from the service fees from 38 people (about $4,000.00 per month).

            This money you can multiply by 5 for the money from President Bush; show me twenty percent and I’ll give the rest. The total for that building and the PASS program were combined to total $1.2 million dollars. Outside the building is 75 parking spaces, strictly for the use of the Salvation Army Headquarters Building staff. In those parking spaces, all are full 5 days a week, between 8am and 5pm park 75 near new, and some luxury automobiles. Those seventy five automobiles have seventy five homes (not inner city) to go to. ( I’ll bet ten dollars to a donut that no homeless person has ever ridden in one of those cars ). It’s a good thing that $1.2 million dollars is only a trickle from Clevelanders donations. Otherwise what would the Sal Army do in New York or England without our support? This is all known as administrative costs.

            To justify administrative costs at the building I stay in, three people from the Sal Army come over for about fifteen minutes at 7:00 pm on Wednesdays. One offers housing opportunities, job opportunities, and saving plans. The housing they offer is CMHA. We have a better chance at the lottery, and if we’re not in there by now, we’re not getting in. The job link is the hiring hall, which actually found three people full time jobs. The hiring hall hasn’t been open since October, 2003. The savings plans offered is good and should be implemented in any and all of the shelters.

            It seems this entire city is run by outsiders, people who have no real interest in what is Cleveland. Whenever I hear that we have to hire from outside for expertise from our creepy politicians, something is really wrong with this picture. We really need to start looking here for the things we need. This summer I will be helping to campaign for local agencies to gain support , so Clevelanders can help Clevelanders, and not ship our resources to New York.

Editor’s Note: As with all the commentaries including every thing from our good friend, Pete, the opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Grapevine or the publisher of the newspaper.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64


At Least It’s Not Snowing


            What is so great about the heated sidewalks at Legacy Village in Beachwood? The City of Cleveland has had heated sidewalks on Superior Ave. that perform the life sustaining function of keeping hundreds of people alive for years. But I have never heard the Cleveland heated sidewalks championed like those that carry shoppers in Beachwood. Why? Because it is a part of the national embarrassment called homelessness. We have had nineteen straight years of increases in homelessness in Cleveland and in most urban cities.

            The issue has long since left the front pages of our newspapers. In fact, the guys who sleep on Superior Ave on top of the hot water line that runs to Public Square have become fixtures in our community. Unfortunately, the nearly 4,000 long term homeless in our city who sleep in the cold freezing nights or the hot summer nights on our East 9th have become a part of the landscape blending into the downtown. We have raised a generation of young people that now accepts homeless people sleeping outside and actually expect to see fellow citizens sleeping in the parks or on stream grates as much as they expect to see bus shelters and telephone poles downtown.

            Native son Drew Carey suggested that the motto for Cleveland should be “At least it’s not snowing.” This does not hold for tonight, but I think that Carey’s brand of optimism does run through those living in Greater Cleveland including homeless people. Drew Carey said that a guy can slam his hand in the car door, but in relating the story to co-workers will throw in the phrase “at least it wasn’t snowing.” In the spirit of “at least it’s not snowing,” I want you to walk away from this discussion with the thought that with the political will and the proper civic leadership homelessness is a solvable problem in our community.

            A brief look at the state of homelessness in Cleveland shows that we are still addressing homelessness as an emergency with shelters and fighting over ever expanding shelter populations. We have a long way to go to begin to address real solutions to homelessness in housing, jobs, health care and civil rights. We saw a dramatic increase in homeless children in 2003. Requests for shelter for all populations increased by 21% in Cleveland. The cost of housing increased again last year, and the number of jobs continued to decline. We had an increase in public dollars going to address homelessness, but the number of families time-limited off welfare increased to 7,400 families since 2000. The waiting list for housing increased significantly in 2003 with Public Housing seeing 9,000 people waiting for units up from 7,000 in 2002. Then we had the attacks by young people on those who sleep on Public Square, demonstrating the hostility prevalent in some sectors of our society to homeless people.

            This is common in our community that kids have their childhood stolen in the homeless shelters. We do our best, and the Cleveland Public Schools does an amazing job to help, but no matter what the shelters are not appropriate for kids, and no child should have to see their mom go through the panic of being forced back to a shelter.

            But in our current context, why should Mr. and Ms. Ryan of Solon care about homelessness in Downtown Cleveland? Besides the social justice response to homelessness that no one in our society should have to go through what I see every day in the homeless community, why do the Ryan’s of Solon care what happens to the women who stay at the women’s shelter or the guys at 2100 Lakeside? It all comes down to money.

            The cost of providing emergency services to our citizens is astronomical. We are all familiar with the desire on the part of our health insurance carriers to steer us away from the emergency room and to our primary care doctor. Well, the same principle applies to housing, jobs, legal assistance, and again health care.

             The cost of shelter is about three times the cost of a housing voucher for people to live in our community, and the Ryan’s pay that to the Federal and County government with taxes. The cost of cash assistance because a family cannot find a decent job come out of the taxes the Ryan’s pay to the State and Federal government. The emergency rooms are clogged with people who do not have healthcare, which means when Mr. Ryan slips at the Browns game he will not get the care he deserves at the St. Vincent emergency room because severely mentally ill people flood into the emergency room out of medicine trying to get the attention of the doctors. The Ryan’s also pay huge sums to prosecute and provide legal assistance to a friend of mine who got caught shop lifting a set of replacement razor blades so that he could look presentable for a job interview.

            It is only getting worse because we continue to stuff more and more of our problems into shelters that elected officials hope will not explode before they are out of office. We have AIDS patients, those paroled with no place to go, the mentally ill, those who cannot find an alcohol treatment bed, and the angry people who cannot find a job all occupying the shelter space. Without some leadership in solving these problems with strict rules against diverting or referring people to shelter this problem will only continue to grow. The Ryan’s of Solon certainly do not want a shelter in their community, but they should be investing the resources of Solon in the short term to solve these problems like housing, livable wage job creation, universal health care, and equal justice for low income individuals so that in the long term the problems will decrease and their taxes can go to scientific discovery, bringing sanity to the Metro Health curve, ending the common cold, and a world wide minimum wage.

            So those of you in the choir and who read the Homeless Grapevine who have the desire to eliminate need to stay vigilant and speak up in support of programs that serve homeless people. Get your local landlords to begin to accept people with housing vouchers, and get the suburban communities to come up with a policy and resources to address homelessness in their community. We need a community wide discussion about poverty and to begin to put in practice solutions that are forwarded by the experts—homeless people.

            Remember that on most days we say “At least its not snowing in Cleveland.” Maybe that should really be our motto because it so simply captures the spirit of optimism that exists in Westlake and West Side Catholic Shelter. There are solutions to these problems, and with the talent, intellect, and leadership that exists we can solve these problems but only on a regional level and only with all levels of government working together on solving the problems facing our community.

Copyright to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio 2004 Issue 64