Transform Abandoned Schools into Housing for Homeless People

Commentary by Linda

   This is my opinion of the recent meeting I attended, which was held by Bryan Flannery.  Flannery was running for Governor of Ohio in the Democratic primary at the time.

   The meeting was held at Arabica Coffee Shop (W.116th and Detroit Ave.), which was convenient and accessible for senior citizens.  There are many senior-apartments along Detroit Ave. and the surrounding area in Lakewood and Cleveland.  Most of the people who attended the meeting were senior citizens.

   My impressions of Mr. Flannery are that he is a good gentleman, businessman, and politician.  He gets down to brass tacks and his presentation spurred me on to write this article; for this I wish to thank him.

   One of the highlights of this meeting was when Mr. Flannery stressed the point that his goal was to lower house taxes statewide.  Now this has a big impact on seniors who are, by and large, on minimal fixed incomes.  Many lose their homes because they cannot afford the expensive taxes.  Then, many seniors end up in subsidized efficiency apartments and/or become homeless.  What a route to go...

   I was introduced as a vendor of The Homeless Grapevine newspaper and invited to speak.  I said, “We are a paper of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and there are over 6,000 homeless people in northeast Ohio, and it’s a shame that all those state-run, abandoned schools can’t be made into living accommodations for the homeless.”

   Mr. Flannery said, with all sincerity, “Good idea, but how?”  My reply was “Renovate.”

   For example, in Cleveland’s cousin city, Lakewood, a middle school on Detroit Ave. is being rebuilt for businesses.  As for our abandoned schools, the renovations could also be funded by businesses, or a government block grant.  Then these schools could be self-supporting businesses that provide living accommodations for homeless people (who are by and large educated and skilled, but lack the capital or material means).

   One school could house a housekeeping business, another seamstresses, another one could be general offices, a food co-op, floor refinishing, wallpapering, maintenance, ad infinitum.

   Proposals could be written, staff hired, buildings refurbished.  Then homeless people currently on the street could receive food stamps and possibly health care benefits because they have an address.  The ones who do these grant proposals could be volunteer teachers themselves– seems appropriate.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine Cleveland Ohio Issue 77 August 2006