Ohio Supreme Court Declines To Hear Our Case

 

Our law firm, Institute for Justice, has fought as hard as anyone in this battle for the rights of homeless people.

Our case has always been that a person should be allowed to shelter those most desperately in need on his own personal property.

We have been beaten down every step of the way on technicalities. They are doing everything in their power to not have to address the real issue at hand… Should I be allowed to shelter people on my own property?

This is yet another set back in this critical human rights fight. But I can tell you, with every loss my resolve becomes all the greater. The harder they push the more I realize they simply do not want to deal with their homeless crisis. They just want to push the issue down the road. Their politician avoidance would be laughable if it weren’t so tragic.

Homelessness is wrong on every level: moral, health, safety. Allowing people to rot on the streets of the richest country in the history of humanity is the great American atrocity of the 21st century.

We will not quit until homeless Americans are allowed to live in peace in their own country regardless of how much money they have.

Here is the full press release Institute for Justice put out:

Ohio Supreme Court Declines to Consider Whether Lower Courts May Create Barriers to Lawsuits – Institute for Justice https://bit.ly/2KJ7ZiH

Attachment

Storygram

Click Here To Order Your Storygram

Have you ever gotten a Candygram before?

A friend of yours would order a Candygram for you. They would choose a little treat. And then they would attach a note to the treat.

We thought it might be a good time to try a Houseless Candygram. We’re calling it Storygram.

This is how it will work…

We’ll give you a couple ideas of what to write. You can type it in or upload an image of something you wrote or drew by hand. You then will pick what kind of item you’d like to attach to your Storygram. Like a drink or a candybar or something like that.

You don’t have to write anything long or involved. It can be whatever you feel like saying.

We will then print out the messages, purchase the item and then deliver them to our houseless friends.

We thought this might be fun for all ages. You could have your kids make a Storygram. Or you could make one yourself.

This isn’t a fundraiser. The cost of each Storygram is $2.50. That will cover printing and the item we purchase.

If you are interested in doing this just click here to get started.

Letting us all know that we are thinking of each other is incredibly powerful. Take care.

Click Here To Order Your Storygram

Sponsor A Propane Tank

Meet Joe and Angel

Joe and Angel live outdoors. Angel is about to give birth at any minute. They need propane for their propane heater. They are 2 of countless people in Akron Ohio that are living outdoors with no heat. (I’ll talk more about them down below.)

We can refill a propane tank for $12. Would you be willing to sponsor a propane tank for the homeless of Akron this winter? If so, just click this Donate button:




We can refill a propane tank for $12. We have plenty of tanks. We just need to get them filled. If a person is careful, a single tank can last one month.

We have people living in tents, people living in abandoned houses, people living in stairways. A heater with propane is life changing.

Become a sponsor of a propane tank and help keep a person, or a couple (and sometimes their pets) stay warm this winter.

More about Joe and Angel:

These two people defy the stereotypes of what society often thinks about when they think about homeless people.

When I have a plumbing leak I call Joe. He has a lot of experience and will always fix the problem, whatever it may be. He’s also a great mechanic. People often bring him their car to work on. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet his family. He comes from a great group of people.

And Angel… Angel is the most thorough and FAST cleaner I’ve ever met. I’ve hired her to clean the bathrooms of our building weekly. I can’t even describe how she does what she does. Ask anyone and they will agree… she defies physics. I truly can’t figure out how she cleans so fast and so well. It’s amazing.

I’ve known Joe and Angel for quite some time. They lived in our tents at our village. And they now live outdoors hiding from the nuisance inspector so they aren’t forced to move while Angel is pregnant.

The question I’m sure you are asking is: Why are they homeless?

Without getting into personal details, I’d say it has to do with mental health issues. Particularly Joe has some struggles that make it difficult to navigate a traditional work landscape. He may disagree with that assessment. And I definitely could be wrong. But if I had to guess, I’d say that at least part of their chronic issues have to do with mental health.

I don’t feel like I’m saying anything that is divulging too much personal detail considering I believe that probably 100% of homeless people are experiencing some form of mental health issue. The trauma of being homeless creates mental health issues if you didn’t already have them when you wound up on the street. And the longer they are on the street the harder it becomes to unwind those issues.

Between having no steady income, personal struggles and getting stuck in a long term houseless lifestyle it becomes MUCH more difficult to move out of houselessness than it does to just fight the elements and the daily struggles of living houseless.

We are learning (Ashleigh Hughes, our community director, is developing some truly innovated psychological theories on the cause and perpetuation of homelessness) that we are seeing common, recurring themes of trauma in the homeless population that often extends back into early childhood. This trauma then continues into adulthood and is compounded by the trauma of living on the streets. This then evolves into significant PTSD.

In fact, we are finding the rates of PTSD found in violent inner cities are comparable to the rates found in veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has created a paper, “Addressing Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Caused by Homelessness” if you’d like to learn more about this.

But the active treatment of trauma in the homeless population has a long way to go. We all have a great deal to learn.

What we know is this: we have to attempt to stop traumatic events from occurring. Sweeping homeless encampments with no alternative in place is a major contributor to trauma. Those actions by themselves are likely to cause significant PTSD that will require long, expensive, ongoing treatment.

Not having heat is also a significant contributor to trauma. There is always a very real risk of dying when the temperature dips too low.

A propane tank and heater instantly end that incredible fear from perpetually recurring.

We MUST put a shelf under the homeless population to fulfill the 2 “Basic Needs”in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

If a person does not have their physiological and safety needs met they will likely never be able to think about getting things like their birth certificate, ID and social security card (all items that are required to get on the list for housing and to get a food card and get health care).

If you contribute to our “Sponsor a propane tank” program you are doing more than just giving life saving heat. You are removing a highly traumatic recurring event from these people’s lives.

Only when we can consistently make sure that a homeless person has food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security can we ever expect them to take the steps needed to begin getting into a house.

Instead of calling it “Housing First” we really should call it for what it is: “Birth Certificate, Photo ID, Social Security Card First,” because “Housing First” never starts without those 3 items. And those 3 items never come unless we can provide a basic form of human needs on the streets.

We can refill a propane tank for $12. We have plenty of tanks. We just need to get them filled. If a person is careful, a single tank can last one month.

Please consider clicking the link below to become a sponsor of our propane tank program:




So what am I supporting anyway?

One of the top questions people ask me is: I’m supporting you but I’m not really sure why.

In all fairness, I didn’t have a great answer for most of this year.

My knee jerk response has always been, “you are helping a great deal renovating our 2 transitional houses.”

We have up to 12 spaces in two houses that are specifically for chronically homeless people.

Here are some numbers pulled out of our profit and loss statement this year:

Contractors: $9,876.75 – these are people that we paid to renovate our houses. Except when a licensed contractor was required we ALWAYS hired homeless people to do the work.

Repairs & Maintenance: $17,104.03 – This is materials we bought at places like Swan’s Hardware (we always try to support our local community stores whenever possible) and Home Depot. We just bought a new high efficiency furnace for one of our houses, for example.

Utilities: $9,102.02 – We had a lot of first year expenses for repairing utilities that had been tampered with or needed inspected and updated before some utilities could even be turned on.

I will be detailing all of our expenses the first of 2020. But these are things that were only possible because of YOU.

Getting 2 fairly dilapidated houses a clean bill of health from the housing inspector is expensive and quite involved. (One house we purchased we found out the day we signed the paperwork that it was on the condemned list.)

Our red house is completely off the housing inspector’s list. And our Arlington house only has 2 more items left to get cleared. We are REALLY close to having that house off the inspector’s list.

I’m really optimistic about using rundown houses as transitional housing for chronically homeless people. It has a whole host of difficulties that are unique to this group of people. But I believe they are very solvable.

But in my mind, this doesn’t really satisfy the question of: “What are we supporting?”

Truth be told, pretty much anyone can take some homeless people and stuff them into a house. It won’t be pretty and it won’t solve the real issues these people are facing. But you could do it.

I have been through some dark times in my career. But this year might go on record as being the darkest journey I’ve ever been on.

First we lost our tent village. And then we lost our entire day center.

I am a creator. That’s what I do. I make things. Watching the government of the United States of America come in and destroy everything I had gotten the incredible honor of watching homeless people create changed me. It cast a dark shadow over the entire world.

I was lost. I was disheartened. I was mad.

I was thrust into the desert against my will and I had no idea how I was going to get back.

I have found, however, that there is always another path that opens up. There is always “the next phase.”

In many ways, that came in the form of an 18 year old woman named Ashleigh Hughes.

We were supposed to do a festival in the summer. I was so exhausted and distraught that I didn’t feel I had it in me to put a festival together.

Ashleigh swept in and made the 2019 Middlebury Festival happen.

You can see all the pictures I took from this year’s festival by clicking here.

There are actually 3 young people that have entered my life that have helped remind me that there is always great hope and wonderful things in the world. Sometimes you just have to look for them a little harder than at other times.

As we move forward we are realizing that what we stumbled on in the very beginning is really who we are at our core. We are a community.

Our tent village wasn’t just a bunch of tents in some guy’s backyard. Our village was a community of people that worked together for a common cause. No one was better than anyone else. No one was asking anyone to be something they weren’t. We all were equals creating a place where homeless people helped homeless people.

Ask ANYONE who lived there and they will tell you the same thing: We were a community. We were a family.

We have just recently approved a new mission and vision statement that reflects this realization. You can read it here if you want.

In our heart of hearts, we at The Homeless Charity know that the houseless community are worthwhile and valuable citizens and they deserve every bit of dignity and respect any of us deserve as American citizens.

We are going to create a variety of events and programs to help remind our houseless neighbors of their worth and dignity (because they often have been robbed of those things along with everything they own).

And we want to show the rest of America the truth of houseless people… that they are capable and talented and gifted and hard working and they deserve a place in our community.

Ultimately we look to break down all barriers that separate the houseless and the non-houseless. We are all just people.

A big part of this is our micro-enterprises. For example, we just had a candle making session yesterday.

Check out this candle that Patty made:

Her candles and a bunch of other houseless-made items are going to be for sale at our Friendsgiving event that is coming up this weekend.

We would LOVE for you to come and join us. It’s a beautiful event. Click here to learn more.

The only way we are ever going to solve the homeless epidemic in America is to meet these wildly misunderstood people where they are today and help them move forward in a way that is meaningful and interesting and dignified for them.

For example, we have some really fun events coming up through the month of December we are calling our Giving Season Celebration Event Series. Click here to check them out. We’d LOVE for you to come join us.

This new vision is going to look like more events and more work opportunities.

The ONLY way this is going to work is with your continued support. And I’m not just talking about money. I mean helping us through joining us at our community events and volunteering in areas that are meaningful to you.

I’m truly inspired and excited about where we are headed. We have so many really cool ideas brewing.

So, my sincere hope is that you come with us on what I believe is a revolutionary way of treating a condition we call homelessness.

Thank you for everything you do.


The featured image here is Virginia and Terri heating up wax for the candles they were making.

Giving Season Celebration Series

This year we have put together a series of events to celebrate the gift of giving.

We would love for you to come be a part of as many of these as you wish.

You can click on each title to learn more and sign up to participate.

Community is the cornerstone of humanity.

Friendsgiving
Date: 11/23/2019 (Sat.)
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm EST
Location: Middlebury Chapel
82 S Arlington St, Akron, OH 44306

House Christmas Decoration Day
Date: 11/30/2019 (Sat.)
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm EST
Location: One of our 2 houses. You choose.

Manicures and Gift Bag Creation #GivingTuesday
Date: 12/03/2019 (Tue.)
Time: 5:00pm – 8:00pm EST
Location: The Homeless Charity
15 Broad St., Akron, Oh 44305

Homeless Camp Meal Making and Delivery
Date: 12/13/2019 (Fri.)
Time: 3:00pm – 7:00pm EST
Location: The Homeless Charity
15 Broad St., Akron, Oh 44305

Dipped Chocolate Gift Making For Homeless People

Date: 12/21/2019 (Sat.)
Time: 11:00am – 3:00pm EST
Location: The Homeless Charity
15 Broad St., Akron, Oh 44305

Daytime Christmas Eve Service for Homeless People
Date: 12/24/2019 (Tue.)
Time: 2:00pm – 3:30pm EST
Location: The Homeless Charity
15 Broad St., Akron, Oh 44305

Supporter Chill Out Day
Date: 01/01/2020 (Wed.)
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm EST
Location: TBD

Your INCREDIBLE Messages to Akron’s Mayor Dan Horrigan and City Council

In the last 24 hours you have rallied together and written some of the most profoundly powerful messages to our mayor and our city council asking how they plan to help their homeless citizens this winter.

You’ve sent them 104 messages so far. In a city with no opposition party I assure you this is uncomfortable for them.

You have spoken from the heart. You are showing that you care about people who are living unsheltered and exposed to the brutal winter conditions of Northeast Ohio.

So far… it’s radio silence from the people we elected. I know they are getting the messages. But they aren’t addressing them in any way, at all. It’s still early. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt… for a while.

But to not let them sweep your messages under the rug and let them go unacknowledged, I am posting them here with the person’s first name who wrote the message. We cannot allow them to get away with this brutal human rights atrocity.

I’m also going to be sending these to the editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Doug Livingston from the Beacon and the deputy mayor. (Maybe I’ll send them to some other news sources too.

WE WILL BE HEARD!

Here are the messages we’ve received so far. I’ve filtered out any identifying information other than the first name of the person who wrote the message.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting the homeless citizens of Akron Ohio.

 

Name Leave Mayor Horrigan and City Council A Message About How You Feel About This Dangerous Situation.
Sage This is serious. You shut down a fully functioning day center that served hundred of homeless people in Akron. And now they have nowhere to get out of the elements this year.
For the safety of the weakest citizens of your city and for the love of God, please tell us what your plan is this year to take care of your homeless citizens.
Cynthia What is your plan dude? Act like you care for once! You piss me off! I hate akron ohio!
SJ Why can’t you just let 15 Broad St, do what it was doing… no one was being bothered, the tents were well out of the way, and for the most part, out of sight….
You want to complain that they are now forced to live in open public lots…..
You cant have it both ways Mr. Mayor.
Victoria Living in the City of Akron use to make me feel proud. Doesn’t seem to make me feel that way so much anymore with the current homeless situation goin on in our City. At least with Broad street there was as place for those who couldn’t get into shelters to go to and now that is shut down as well as the camps that go up. Where do you suggest these people go? There has got to be solutions to this problem we have. And I know that doesn’t happen over night, but what are you and the City working on to make our city safe and safe for those who are homeless and nowhere to go?
Caitlin I am deeply ashamed of Akron and the city council for its treatment of our homeless population. Many Akronites are one missed paycheck or medical bill away from being in the very situation! What is wrong with you, Mayor Horrigan? Is the money you’re getting from gentrifying our city so sweet that you can excuse human suffering? We do not need more luxury condos— we need affordable housing and programming to HELP our homeless population, not shoo them away.
Ariel Mayor Horrigan,

I am worried about homeless people in Akron! What this city is doing (or not doing) right now is NOT WORKING. Please consider solutions that will work for the people who are currently living outside!

Linda Many homeless will die without hot meals and a warm dry place, even if it is just part of the day. That is why the day center was and is so valuable to them.
They can eat. Get warm clothes ,sleeping bags and blankets.
Mr. Mayor you lead by example and taking care of the poorest of the poor is an excellent opportunity to show the World all people are important.Sincerely
Linda
DeAnne I am absolutely disgusted by what is going on with our homeless community. Something must be done to help them.
Amy I would like to know how my tax dollars are going to be used to protect vulnerable houseless people this winter. We have a moral obligation to make sure people are t literally freezing to death in our community.
Laurie Hello,
I am wondering what your plan is for keeping homeless people warm and safe this winter. It is tragic that the safety and community of the tent village is not there this year for the PEOPLE that don’t fit in to the shelters. And sad that all the mini camps are being closed down. What will you be doing with the people that can’t just disappear?
Zach Dear Public Servants,
What is the plan to keep our homeless citizens safe, warm and alive this winter? The current services cannot service the amount of homeless citizens we have. When the city shut down 15 Broad St, there was never any plan or push from the administration to help not only those homeless folks, but our homeless population in general.
I look forward to hearing your plan, and I hope this issue can become a meaningful priority going forward.
Thank you for your time.
Kathryn I think it is a disgrace how you have done everything in your power to stop Sage Lewis and others for their quest to help the homeless.
Don”t you have a heart?
I pray you are never in this situation, because things can change for anyone in a heartbeat.
The crime rates will continue to rise.
These people are human beings.
We the citizens of Akron want to know what your plan is.
Brenda Mayor Horrigan and the City Council

Have we become such an uncivilized Nation that the value of human life means nothing to this office and the people that run Akron? Everyone one has a story no one can judge these people as to why they do not think the way you do or maybe even the way I think! They have their reasons for being homeless and there are many reasons, and even more people out on the streets of Akron looking for shelter. And this can happen to any of us!! You, me, people you or me love. And if it does would you have the same type of attitude toward them? Maybe this fight or crusade has left a bad taste in the mouths of the Politician’s of Akron but don’t let that be the reason we have to bury humans that have froze in the cold climates here in the Winter! If someone is offering solutions please listen to those solutions and work with the people. We all deserve a safe place in life don’t ignore the needy and homeless out on the streets when there are things that can be done to stop this. Thank You Brenda

Cathy I’m very concerned about the lack of safe housing/shelter for the homeless as cold weather approaches. Please consider the needs of others. Thank you.
Carol I once was homeless and lived in a tent behind 15 broad st. Sage gave me a tent and a heater, which saved my life. I am now buying my own home, working a full time job and am a productive member of society. What are you doing to help the homeless of akron achieve this?
Sharon
Delaina Here is what i got to say. Y dont u mayor and coucil commenty go be homeless in the deep cold weather for 72. Hourswalk in our shoes and see what its like to be homeless sleep in tents go with out eating or freezing or try to find a restroom. Because i know u cant or wont. After u do that than really see make ur decision . i believe u just made it worse shutting board steet down . taking away tents.. U all should be more worried about the shoots everyday than worry about a homeless person sleeping somewhere. U might even really solve the issue or better understand or even help out alot more .. So yes Give them somewhere to be warm and help with food and just maybe homeless problem will get better.. They no different than u but less unfortunately in areas…we all going to the same place dirt an dust when we die. Then u be no different..stop making it harder for the homeless and really do something to make it better . so please go be homeless in the cold freezing and be in there shoes until u do . u really dont know what it is like .. Help them LEAVE WARM PLACES OPEN AND GIVE THEM A PLACE LIVE BROAD STREET .. THANK U
Shawna This is disheartening, cruel and unnecessary. I was born and raised in Summit county, and now am currently in Massachusetts an I see he change in the states around us have been more reformed. I’d like you to get off your butt and do something to help these HUMANS. You will have a whole lot of tax payers in an uproar if you continue to make bad decisions such as this.
Bernice It’s so sad that you keep evicting the homeless and tearing down their camps. What do they do now, go to the business’s front door where it may be less windy? Maybe you should try staying outside all night and see how it feels!
Rose I see you are up for re-election. Now since you serve All the People how do you propose to keep the unhoused or homeless people safe? You shut down the day center. The shelters are full and you shut down camps. You hunt them like feral cats. You sir made this problem worse. So since you are vowing to serve all the people how will you start?
Sandra Good afternoon Mayor horrigan. I would like to know how the city plans to help the homeless stay warm in the upcoming winter months?

I pray that you will do the right thing and help the most vulnerable around us.

God bless you

Eva You shut down everything that we were doing for the Homeless at 15 Broad Street because you have a vendetta against Sage. You used the old biddies in the apt. next to there to complete your hate. I live in Medina and I went there every Tuesday with homecooked food for them, you took that away from them. What is your plan to feed them? You also took away their showers, toilet, laundry and their tents. Why??? Why do you hate the homeless??? They are human beings. All the talk about helping animals, how about humans??? Do you even know what a human is??? Get off your butts and find them something or leave them alone to camp where they have each, safety in numbers.
eva Stealing from the homeless isn’t nice, you jerk. Acting like you care, well your a hypocrite. Using tax dollars to hire people to go STEAL from the homeless proves what a rotten, hateful, bastard you are. Yes, it is stealing. How do you sleep at night knowing you steal from the homeless that have nothing but the clothes on their backs???? How can you and council allow them to go without???
Kim This is a inhuman thing to do .Not everyone has become homeless by choice. But these are still human beings that we all need to help
Lindsey Regardless of how people became homeless and your thoughts about them: the bottom line is that people will freeze and die in the cold if nothing is done. These people are humans and citizens and deserve certain rights. If these people freeze… it’s on you as the leader of Akron. These are your people.
Gregory please help the homeless this winter in Akron

I appeal to your humanity and kindness. Greg.

Richard here is a little insite to being homeless and out in the cold it is the most unpleasant feeling in the world what if you had to ender what these people had to for the winter you would be begging just like them so help them they are people too.
Jessica
Annie Dear Mayor and City Council,

It has been absolutely heart breaking to watch the destruction of every service in the community to help these people. Are you so removed from reality that you don’t see how we are all one bad thing away from ending up homeless? Jobless? Forgotten? These people are someone’s daughter, sister, son, brother, aunt, uncle, grandson, granddaughter.
Why is it that the city feels no compassion, no need to help and figure out how to make Akron thrive and get these people off the street. Money? Is that the answer? How much does it take to allow someone to place a tent in a back yard of someone’s home? Did you never camp under the stars as a kid? You have a group here willing to help these people. Your people. And asking nothing from you other then the ability to allow them to pitch a tent and take a shower.
A city is only as great as its leadership. The reflection of leadership that is being portrayed in Akron is not the reflection I want or I would think you would want either. Cold, heartless, dictator.
I just want to know one thing, what if it was your daughter, son, mom, dad, aunt, uncle, brother or sister?
Please reconsider your hitler like rule over the homeless of Akron and allow the city to care for even the smallest of them

Bailey Services for Akron’s housing challenged population are essential to their livelihood. Without access to the food pantry and a warm place to sleep these citizens are in danger. We can and should do better.
Sheila Shame on all of you!!
Heather If you have any companion at all you will not let the homeless of Akron freeze on YOUR streets.
Rochelle I am very concerned about our vulnerable neighbors who do not have homes and sleep hidden out of site and unprotected. What will you do to help them now that 15 Broad Street can’t offer warmth or showers or laundry? Every single homeless death is on you.
Melanie I don’t understand how you can keep shutting down services to the homeless with Sage Lewis. What is being done to help these people that fall through the cracks
Ashley I think this is rediculous that instead of letting homeless people have a village somewhere they can be safe that you are making them go out into our streets again. Guess no one cares until they are actually homeless themselves.
Devon
Lara
Amanda What will you do to shelter our homeless after shutting down their services last winter?
kayla
Lisa I am seriously concerned about our homeless citizens with the upcoming weather changes. With full shelters and no day centers, where are these people supposed to go to avoid freezing to death? Warming centers are not open/available 24/7. These are our citizens, veterans and neighbors with no resources or access to warmth. I understand the controversy over tents in the city, but why can we not offer a reasonable solution to save lives?
Aimee There is no reason any Ohioan should be without a warm place to stay this winter. What are the city’s plans to help our homeless population? You cannot ignore them anymore.
Lynn Dear Mayor and City of Akron,

The Homeless are people. The Homeless are citizens. The Homeless need help no matter the reason for their situation.

What is your plan for helping them this winter? Yes, there is the Haven of Rest. Yes, there are many Churches that offer food and clothing. But, what are you doing?

The Homeless Charity at 15 Broad Street treated many Homeless people with dignity. It gave them food, resources, and pride. You have taken this away.
What are you giving the Homeless to replace it?

Lynn

Deborah How do you plan to supply warmth, food, and shelter to one of the most in-need populations in the city? It is irresponsible and heartless to have denied them these services. They are Akron citizens and deserve to be treated as such.
Jill You are heartless. These are human beings who need help. Shame on you.
Brenda Will these homeless people be able to live with you? How about one of your other ruthless friends. This is is unconscionable what you’re doing to these people!
Jen Shutting down these free simple services that we all take for granted is not helping the homeless by any means. Where are they supposed to wash their clothes, take a shower, catch a break from the cold or get a hot meal? We all know not everyone qualifies for the Haven of rest. There are more homeless people than there are shelter beds available.
We as a community need to find a solution to help homeless return to being constructive members of society with stable housing.
Casting them off out of the public eye is most definitely NOT the solution.
Linda Mayor Horrigan and city council, we the people would like to know your plans to help the homeless now that they have no place to go for basic needs or help of any kind. We are not talking about dogs or cats here, but human beings that God created and that God himself cares about. This is definitely NOT acceptable to take away a place to be,to take away food, to take away shelter, to take away any way for them to exist and be able to live. Do you in your heart, really want human beings to suffer and die on the streets of Akron? That is exactly what you have set them up to do. When you have your cocktail at night and crawl into your warm bed, in your nice home, I pray the spirit of God will not let a one of you rest until you help our homeless in Akron. He is watching. You will stand before the Living God one day and give an account for every single person you have destroyed, callously and willingly.
Barbara Why can’t you open up a shelter at a church or a heated room at a parking deck? Do something besides nothing
Mitchell Just curious what the plan would be after shutting down broad, and before that, tent city? Seems as though we are just demonizing those trying to help…
marcia Finding a new location and setting up a new camp has to happen within one day otherwise they risk dying from exposure to the elements… it gets brutally cold… . C’mon Mr. Horrigan, Please have a heart to heart talk about the situation and modern ideas of helping the city build tiny house communities, who live as neighbors on their own blocks, having public resources there as well as their block’s community center for cooking / eating, reading doing laundry, getting hot showers… we HAVE TO LIFT UP the poor and give them a forward purpose. … and need you to see this vision…. if some of those3 residents in a village, we are sure there are more houseless people that are on there way here, and adds to our homeless population … i believe it was last week or so, a young mother w/ baby told Sage she was homeless and did know where she could stay. all the shelters were full. WE NEED YOU TO LET ‘THE HOMELESS CHARITY’ fulfill the compassionate work and vision for the future Akron has.. we must make room for some of them. … and each community block of tiny ‘villages … it could be such a plus for the city. ,,,,,,, C’mon Mayor, how about you approve Sage’s non-profit ideas and goals…. he really IS a very smart man… he could do great things if you’ll let him.
Cindy How do you help the homeless this area summit co has none no help everyone outta funds and I’m homeless due to a domestic violence from a krysten holmes 28 yr repeatedly in and outta summit co jail I have a income I just need help with a deposit and I gave up home in new franklin only to move in with my boyfriend’ and he let sat and watched his daughter assault me in front of him after I’d moved in on aug 16 and then she was high on meth and told me I’d had 15 mins to get outta her house so I’d been mentally abused by Rick holmes and had my ass beat by his daughter within one week of moving into his house he locked cabinets up took food outta refrigerator throw me out barberton police was called on me for nothing at all he tryed to get a t.p.o on me filed. Domestic violence charges against me put me though hell that’s not even half I’m still going to court for a small claim these 2 people messed my mind my soul my life up and due to this I’m now homeless sleepin in my jeep with busted out windows they did to me help me I get ssi monthly I cant get no place I’m 59 yr old woman I need help homeless here in akron Ohio cindy tanski 330 601 5417 thank you
Lauren It’s a sad day for the homeless of Akron when the local governing body turns their backs on those that need help the most. Not one person should have to be turned away from a cari g community of people that only want to try and help provide for them through anyway possible. To shut down Sage and the efforts that have tried
tried to help in even the smallest of ways is a cold hearted act. No person is except from the possibility of loosing it all through job loss or illness and my hope is that none of your family member have to tell you they can’t make the rent or need assistance of some sort in the years ahead because we see how your hearts truly beat.
Angel There is an undeniable problem with housing security and food security in Akron, and those people in our city effected by that deserve respect, care, and kindness all year round, but especially in the face of dangerous cold weather. I’ve encountered many of Akron’s homeless population, not only on the streets asking for change, but seeking services at Portage Path Behavioral Health or taking their chance at an open mic in Highland Square—and each one is worthy, lovable, and valuable. Life is precious, and our politics must reflect that. So, what are you going to do?
Leslie How does Akron plan to protect the homeless this winter? Especially since 15 Broad Street has been shut down. Can’t you find a bit of funding to help them get up to code so they can reopen?
Michael Why would your administration be against helping the needy? The 15 broad Street center really helps this community.
Ann Ignoring homeless populations during the winter takes your actions from cruel, to malicious. I hope you intend to reinstate all the homeless programs you butchered and give them a space to grow.
Shari Disgusted. Help your fellow Americans! How can you eat a meal knowing someone is outside cold and starving?? Do something positive in this world. It’s your legacy!!
Priscilla Please come up with a plan to help the homeless. Their needs should not be ignored. Many people find themselves in dire circumstances; the cities should have plans in place to help them.
Janine Please open one if the many abandoned and empty buildings and allow the homeless to have shelter. Sage Lewis had sone very useful programs going and all you do is shit them down. Shame on Akron…
Loretta
Tabatha I use to be homeless now I’m married have a job car license. Please help them all homeless are not bad their not doing shootings
Dawn I would like to hear your plan for the shelter and care of homeless peoples in Akron, Ohio. We cannot ignore the basic human needs of families who have lost their homes and linger on subsidized housing lists for years.
Barbara I love living in the city of akron after working here for 20+ years but living elsewhere. I’m generally supportive of all the plans to improve the city even with all the disruption. I voted for Horrigan in the last election but am struggling this year. The way the houseless have been treated in Akron is shameful. It seems like now its personal between the mayor and Sage Lewis. He has undone all of the good PROGRESSIVE work of the Homeless Charity. Where are these people supposed to go? What do you think will happen to them? They’re not just gonna go away. We need services to help ALL of them. Not just the ones that fit the template of the few organizations that are already overwhelmed. What are your plans Mayor Horrigan and members of council? Just more of the same old same old? That is not how a progressive city operates
Dusty We need a solution for these people to get them to a protected shelter. They are human beings. No matter what put them on the streets how can we not offer some where for them to go to get what they need. I understand zoning and ect but we must do something. Please tell us how you are going to assist them with all of the assistance they provided now gone.
Rocky I heard you say at the debate that you’d spent 5 million already to help the homeless. “Listen I threw money at it. I’m done.” I think your blind faith in the COC is misplaced (considering they couldn’t even house everyone in tent city as promised). I am not sure who got the money and for what services,… maybe it is going toward camp sweeps and clean ups? Wherever it went, it didn’t have much of an impact. But no worries, right? You’ll be re-elected anyway. Thankfully the Homeless kids in Akron documentary is coming out soon. Between the films and books and news articles, you’ll always be known as the mayor who hated homeless people, did nothing for the poor, and loved roundabouts, bike lanes and other misguided roadwork projects. Cool legacy.
Margaret Please rise to the challenge and do something to help these people who are not being fully served by the Continuum of Care. Homelessness is not a problem that is going to go away in Akron but the way you and your administration deal with it can and should be honorable and humane. Thank you.
Gloria Would be nice if someplace is open for all of them:) sad to see someone get shut down for just trying to lend a helping hand.
Lori This is horrifying! please help our homeless not harm them. ????❤️❤️❤️❤️
Lillian Please let us know how you plan to help the homeless this winter since you have closed down all the tent communities. Do people need to freeze to death before you find good solutions to these problems? They are not going to go away. They need our help and we are obligated as a community to work with them and help them. What is your plan?
Danielle You CANNOT solve homelessness by criminalizing it! Homelessness is a complex problem in need of thoughtful solutions. You have the local expertise in Akron via leaders in the social service realm. Partner with them for policy-making instead of turning your backs on your most vulnerable citizens!
Maxine Why were the services shut down to 18 Broad Street? What is the City’s plan for the homeless this winter? How can the city proclaim to welcome all dreams and immigrants when as your back is turned on some of the most vulnerable in our society: those who have mental illness, those who have served our country and now struggle with PTSD, those who struggle with addiction. This is shameful.
Geri I have volunteered at the Homeless Charity and am really taken back that these people have no where to go for a warm meal, a hot cup of coffee or shower. Sage’s building provided so many necessary services for people in need. How could you shut this down with our harsh winters? Where are they supposed to go? Why won’t you do anything to join Sage on his mission to help the homeless? Why do you seem to hate them? It saddens me that more isn’t being done to help them.
Carol There are homeless folks unprotected and unsupported in Akron.Your “contingency plans” from earlier this year have fallen short of providing safe housing for the homeless in our city. Now what are you going to do? Sage Lewis had a plan for giving folks a safe place and support for their human needs. By shutting his camp down you have thrown many folks literally out into the cold without support. What are you going to do now?
Colleen So, what’s your plan? The temperatures are supposed to drop pretty low this winter. Polar vortex cold. You remember how horrible it was to be out in that for even minutes, dont you? Now thi k about what you’re going to be subjecting A LOT of your citizens to. Your CONSTITUENTS, YOUR VOTERS! Some of these people are ill, others are young children, pregnant women, elderly. You WILL be cleaning up frozen bodies, after all is said and done. How could you be so heartless? Mayor, you are IRISH, that means you’re either a Protestant or a Catholic. How can you sit there and claim to be either, when both speak out against what you’re doing and teach you that you should help those in need, and the less fortunate. I know you dont give a crap, in your fancy car, your expensive house and your plush corner office. Now think about those who are out on the streets. How would you feel having to pick up a frozen, lifeless child? How about an expectant mother? A VETERAN, someone who has fought for our country and cant get the help they need, and are FORCED to live on the streets? With all due respect, you are horrible and despicable for what you’re doing, and at the same time instead of helping, making it harder for folks who are out in the cold. Please consider letting Sage reopen the day center and the only place some people had. Or, if you’re going to continue down your war path, against those who already have so little, why dont you start placing them in safety.
I know you wont, because you think so little of these folks, and those who help them. Look at what you’re doing to Ryan Scanlon. You took away his children and forced him out of his house. Why? All because he dared help the less fortunate and instead of celebrating him and his willingness to open his heart, and you dont like it? Youd rather see them freeze and starve and clean up the bodies after, instead of care for them now. I did think highly of you until this, some of the counsel members I still do. But you mister mayor, you’ve lost my vote. And those of a lot of people I know. I honestly do not like you, at all.what are you going to do in retaliation, to me? Come to my friend’s house, where I’m renting a room, and force me out too?
Katie I am a social worker, and I have been trying to help a homeless 59 year old woman who is in Akron. She became homeless when her son went off to Kent State to live in the dorms on a full ride due to his academic achievements. When he turned 18, the money she received in social service benefits disappeared. She has significant mental health problems. She slept in the trees between Bob Evans restaurant recently. You must understand that these individuals who are homeless feel just like you and me. They feel the cold. They feel the fear. They feel the exhaustion from hyper vigilance and not feeling safe. They feel the hunger pangs. Everything you would feel if you were faced with their homelessness. Creative and thoughtful leaders can care for ALL. I challenge you to spend time with experts in this field to help develop a plan.
Sincerely,
Katie
Debra Homelessness is a human right violation, because it is torture. there is no way for a person to manage any area of their life, medically, psychological, physically, financially, socially or emotionally. Homeless are subject to predators and fluctuation of weather and its extremes; to stigmatism, marginalization, legal harassment, to lowest indignities and excessive stress. Are you a dictator of an impoverished third world country? there are people in the community willing to provide help, but you make it even impossible for the good Samaritans to step forward; so what is your plan? Where are the homeless supposed to be. How do they exist? Do you propose pest extermination? These people are citizens of the United Sates. Statistics show that the wealthy live 15 years longer than the poor, ie poverty is a death sentence, ie homelessness is a death sentence. You sentence these people to die without even a tent. that makes you the lowest of low people, if you can even be considered a human being. Your lack of concern and humane action is criminal.
David Where’s the compassion, decency, and desire to look out for our fellow people? To turn your back on our most vulnerable citizens really shows your true colors. If you don’t have a better plan in place for our homeless, you should all be ashamed as you are unfit to lead and influence a city of such culture.
Paula What is the homeless supposed to do when the temperatures are freezing? How are they supposed to stay out of the elements? I worry for them. ALL LIVES MATTER!!!!!
Molly Hello,
While on my mind often, the homeless have a special place in my heart as the cold weather draws near. So many in this population are stuck in a cycle where they do not qualify or can not access the services available. I am aware that last year there were services with less restrictions in order to access, but those services/programs have since been sadly shut down. What are your plans to act quickly and make up for this loss the homeless in akron are facing? What level of protection is being offered for their safety from frigid temperatures as well as personal safety?
Vicki The Mayor’s Office and the City Council could honor the pledge made last Winter to find housing for the homeless. Almost a year later nothing has been done except to close down a private day center for them and close down every tent community. NO SHELTER, NO SAFETY, NO HELP for citizens who have nothing and nowhere to go but in the streets!
Larry U Mr.Mayor and City Council members are heartless and need to help these people they are human and their lives matter they are someones loved one what if it was one of yours
Judi Now that the Homeless Village on Broad Street has been shut down, where will these people go for a warm, safe place to sleep; a place to clean their clothes and their bodies; a place they can meet and help each other; receive a warm meal, and be treated as a human? They are not asking a lot. What would it hurt for the City to hire Sage to direct the operation, help finance a new “village”, and get these folks back on their feet. No, I dont want a San Francisco situation in Akron, but unless something is done for these people, YOU Mayor Horrigan, will have their blood on your hands. I realize you are attempting to change the landscape of Akron to introduce new businesses and prosperity to the area, but a good Book I read says we will always have the poor amongst us. While you plan for a good future for the City of Akron, I pray you will search your heart and WORK with the homeless to help them through the winter and into the future. Please do something before it is too late.
Lee These people have little or no resources. Please help them survive the winter.
Faith Do you know how many deaths this is going to bring?? How many people almost freeze to death before they jump off the bridges? How many people die from freezing to death? How will you feel if you drive down the road one cold winter morning and you see dead bodies laying there? Money can come and go any day! Imagine if you didn’t come from money, & you ended up in the streets! And you ended up in the homeless people’s shoes! How does that image make you feel?? I dont like the way your mindset is set up! Its sickening to me. ??? these people were finding hope! & you took it all away! They weren’t harming you! There is homeless people everywhere!! And it just so happens that there is homelessness going on here in Akron too! You are mayor of Akron! & are making our city look bad! EVERYONE DESERVES LOVE, SUPPORT, HOPE, HELP, ECT! I COULD GO ON, BUT IM SURE THE WORDS IM SPEAKING ARENT IN YOUR VOCABULARY.
Faith Yeah it’s me again. I should of spoke on more things. As to why you think it’s okay for the homeless to wear dirty clothes! Have no showers and go hungry!! THEY ARE HUMAN. YOU MUST BE INHUMAN if you think that’s okay!!!
Mary Dear Dan Horrigan, Akron, Ohio Mayor and Akron City Council: It is Wednesday, October 23, 2019. Since the outdoor ttemperature WILL reach 39 degrees Fahrenheit this Friday, you, Akron City Government, closed the only generic, meaning accepting everyone, day center for Akron Homeless at 15 Broad St., Akron, OH 44305, EACH winter Access Incorporated mini shelter and Haven of Rest Shelter are filled to client capacity, since winter weather starts this Friday, what are YOUR, meaning you, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and City Council, plans to prevent the remainder of AKRON’S Homeless living on the street/ in woods, from freezing to death and what are YOUR SPECIFIC PLANS to create an immediate emergency winter weather day center and warming center (nighttime cold weather shelter) for those Akron Homeless who WILL REMAIN stuck in dangerous freezing outdoor temperatures, given limited shelters Akron has do not help every type of person or situation and they fill over capacity each winter?
“WARMEST REGARDS”,
Mary
Melissa My question is what are you going to do to help the homeles ? I understand that we care over populated but hay these people wernt always homeless we have vets and retired elderly and people who have been abused out there running for some reasons but it doesnt make them bad people in akron we have alot of abandon houses that are just there my question is instead of fighting to keep homeless out why cant you allow them to be screened tested to see what they know about rebuilding things allow people to live in the buildings re build them paint clean up putting walls in every person has a trade in life come on they wernt always homeless why not allow them to use this to learn live and maybe even clean up their lives instead of pushing them further in a hole to suport city pockets teach them let them express them selves to better our cities use these old houses buildings and shelter them give hope where its needed their would be less violance less deaths overdoses and well i myself would rather know where they are then gussing do i have to worry or is it safe to let my kids out to play safe homes it would help alot of people in both ways so instead of shutting them out to die help everyone but thats just my openion
James So my large working family,of 12 children,30 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren would very much like to know what the city of Akron is doing for our homeless this winter. Hope this isn’t too much to ask of someone We voted for.
Michael Homeless folks need a warm, safe place to sleep when the weather gets bad
Sandra I’m not a resident of Akron, I am in Cleveland. But the news that you have absolutely no plan to help the homeless this winter is infuriating. Please, give us an explanation. No one deserves to live outside in this brutal weather. Please, put your pride aside and do something.
priscilla So many people who depended on Sage are now stranded with no hope. Surely there is something the Akron government can do since you are responsible for closing down Sage’s organization. It’s hard to believe your Republican opponent sounds more helpful to the homeless than you do.
STACEY There are so many others things this city needs it amazes me that this is a focus. Other cities have found a way to live with their housing challenged PEOPLE why can’t we find a better way. So many solutions have been tried and they continue to be shut down with no alternatives. What would you do if you were homeless in your city?
Sophia Dear Mayor Horrigan,

The weather is growing colder week by week as October draws to a close. Akron has a large number of citizens who don’t have the luxury of a room with a bed and a roof they can return to at the end of the day. We the people of Northeast Ohio demand that you and your administration prioritize safety of Akron’s unhoused population this winter. The basic function of government is the safety of the citizens. You MUST create a plan to provide emergency food and shelter to the homeless this winter.

Sincerely, Sophia

Travis Listen dude, stop with all the high horse crap. I know it’s not a black and white situation, but imagine if it was you on the streets with no resources. You at least have to do something
Tammy Please help those in need especially this winter.
Sherri My God show some compassion. These are human beings not trash. What are they to do ? Shame on all of you ! This totally disgusts & infuriates me!
Carole Now that the shelter at 15 Broadway has been shut down, what about the homeless?
By the Grace of God go you or I
These people could freeze to DEATH for real.
Please help them.
Thank you,
Carole
Wendy If you are going to create barriers for the people trying to help the homeless, then offer some alternatives or solutions. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Places like Haven of Rest often fill to capacity and need to turn people away. Where are they legally able to go? Where are they legally able to stay? Solve the problem!
Marla Please help the homeless stay warm this winter and to have them some where to go that is save and warm
Deanne “Not in My Backyard” policies don’t work; and they’re inhumane. There’s other ideas that have worked. For example converting dead big box stores/malls into housing or programs such as Housing Works LA. Akron should strive to be a forward thinking innovator. The City should explore new ideas. We should be looking to set the example. Turning your back has not only not stopped the problem, it give the City a bad look.
– Signed concerned former resident
Rebekah Mr.Mayor dont you think it’s time to put the big money people aside or put their dollars to use and HELP OUR HOMELESS!?!?! IF YOU DONT WANT THE RESPONSIBILITY AS YOU ARE CONTINUING TO SHOW PLEASE STEP ASIDE AND LET THE PEOPLE WHO KNOW WHAT COMPASSION AND HUMANITY ARE AND LET US HELP HOUSE AND HEAT THE HOMELESS!!! SHAME ON ALL WHO WONT DEVISE A PLAN!!!
Mark I have been ministering to the homeless for the better part of 12 years now. I have a vested interest in what I do. I was once homeless myself. I’ve watched the building of a new Metro busing station. That helped to move along homeless from downtown. I’ve visited tent cities over the years that no longer exist. Sage Lewis had a wonderful outreach and you shut him down. Mayor, out of sight out of mind doesn’t work. You continue to put a band aid on a compound fracture. We are talking about human beings, Mayor. People. People who have the right to pursue comfort and any dream they have for themselves. You help to take that away. I have seen many, MANY success stories, comebacks by those homeless that were given a chance. An outreached hand, a meal, a shower, a haircut, a roof, albeit temporary goes a long way for those who have little or nothing. You can not continue to turn a blind eye to the problem that exists in your city. This is YOUR city mayor. And your lack of community pride and compassion I find reprehensible. Get off the pot. Move and shake. I’ve a feeling that if you put as much or even one half of the energy you put into campaigning for office into helping those less fortunate you could become part of the solution. Right now, you’re part of the problem.
Carly Leaving people to die is not, nor has it ever been, and effective strategy to combat homelessness. The homeless population is a public health crisis waiting to grow by the minute. Spending the money to protect them now means spending significantly less in emergency funds later down the line. Horrible though that for city officials to care I have to put this into a financial arguement, instead of just an argument for basic human rights. Do you job- protect all people.
Darryl The action is a perpetuation of an already grave circumstance. Cease the orchestration of genocidal actions such as terminating and unfunding life-sustaining services provided by The Homeless Charity. Fund the organization and ensure Akron’s homeless can live to strive for a better future.

Ask Mayor Horrigan and Akron City Council How They Plan To Protect Their Homeless Citizens This Winter

Mayor Horrigan and Akron City Council shut down our entire operation. The village, the day center, no laundry services, no showers, no food pantry. Nothing. It’s all gone.

This is the first winter we are not able to offer any services at 15 Broad Street in Akron. This is a serious situation. These people came to rely on us over the winter and the city completely shut us down.

Please use this form to ask Mayor Horrigan and city council what they plan to do to fill the huge gap in services they created.

Fill out my online form.

Fall 2019 Volunteer Opportunities

Door of Hope Crusades

September 21, 2019 10am-6pm

Grace Park
Akron, OH

Our partner, Middlebury Chapel has created this really cool event with two other churches.

There will be live worship, giveaways and free food.

All are welcome.

If you would like to volunteer for this event please email Ashleigh at ashleigh@thehomelesscharity.org


Labre Project at Walsh Jesuit High School

Every Monday from approximately 4pm to 9pm a group of really amazing Walsh student go out into the neighborhoods to deliver food to homeless people.

They are always looking for volunteers to help with this project.

If you would like to volunteer for this event please email Ashleigh at ashleigh@thehomelesscharity.org


Village Art Studio Supplies and Teachers

We have been having great success with our Village Art Studio. We pay homeless people to create arts and crafts. Then we resell them in our store and all profits go back to The Homeless Charity. You can check out our online store by clicking here.

We are always in need of things like paints, canvases, beads, and various other craft items.

We would love any craft supplies you have. And if you have a skill that you’d like to teach we would love that too.

Once again, just email Ashleigh at ashleigh@thehomelesscharity.org 🙂

The 10 Learnings Of Homelessness by The Homeless Charity and Sage Lewis

There was so much physical labor in the work we did over the last several years.

Endless trash that was the most disgusting experiences of my life. So much trash.

Moving homeless people’s belongings from here to there to another there. The moving of stuff was overwhelming.

And all of the incredibly hard work endless supporters did for the homeless. It happened so regularly and at such a steady force that it was unquantifiable.

Real work was done. Real things were accomplished. And real people were lifted up out of homelessness.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that we were also actually creating an illegal study on homelessness in Akron Ohio.

Of course our leaders would never acknowledge that because they don’t want to do a study on homelessness. That would mean we’d have to do something about it. But more on that in a bit.

I’m not sure if you saw this, but the Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is pumping a ton of money into homelessness research:

San Francisco billionaire gives $30 million to study homelessness

This is what people in progressive, innovative cities do.

In Akron people trying to address the exact same problems that billionaires are interested in solving are chastised by their mayor. This is the title of Mayor Horrigan’s article he wrote about our charity:

Dan Horrigan: Let’s clean up the picture on the Homeless Charity.

For all the posturing, loud impassioned speeches, blog posts, public requests for donations and edgy movie posters depicting him as some type of savior, Sage Lewis has made little progress on actually moving the needle on homelessness. Just because he attracts homeless people does not make him an expert in homelessness.

I would imagine he’d say the same thing if he had a billionaire in his city doing the same thing:

For all of Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff’s money and posturing and interest in solving homelessness he has made little progress on actually moving the needle on homelessness. I mean… he’s just trying to learn more about homelessness. That’s stupid. We know everything there is to know about homelessness.

I’m certainly not a billionaire. But about 20 years ago my wife and I decided to move our digital marketing firm from Medina Ohio to Akron Ohio. We’ve bought several houses over the years in Akron and also bought a building that had been abandoned for over a year.  You would think that would account for something. A technology-oriented company decides to move into Akron.

No one ever thanked me or even acknowledged I did that. I certainly wasn’t looking for acknowledgement. But I will say, I used to do marketing consulting in a town called Kilgore Texas. The mayor and the head of the Chamber of Commerce took me out for ribs to try to get me to move my company to Kilgore. They actually were interested in my little company. I always found that juxtaposition of how Akron treated me versus how Kilgore treated me interesting.

I’ve learned many things about Akron over the years. But this article is what I’ve learned about homelessness in Akron Ohio. Let’s get to it:

Learning 1: There is a need for more homeless sheltering.

At our peak we always had a waiting list. No matter the season or the weather, people desperately wanted to get a tent in our tent village.

This learning surprised me. I figured that in the winter our village would be a ghost town. The opposite was true. People needed shelter more than ever.

The photos that the media would take of tents in the winter always shocked me, even though I was there every single day:

It brings up more questions that need studying. Questions like:

  • What have these people done before our tent village?
  • What will they do now that there is no tent village?
  • How many more people could we have served if we had a larger space and more villages throughout the city?

Learning 2: People die unsheltered in the winter

Every winter there are reports of people dying unsheltered in Akron Ohio. This past winter a man died in the sewers. A man died right around the corner from us in an abandoned house after our village was forced to be closed. And another man died in a yard down the street from us.

It astounds me that we just shrug our shoulders over these kinds of deaths. I mean, we had a working solution to shelter people and the city forced us to close it.

No one ever died at our facility.

We saved people from overdoses. We subdued people who turned violent. And most importantly, we gave people shelter from the harsh winter climate of Northeast Ohio.

In two years, no one ever died at our facility.

We proved that tents and blankets and sleeping bags will keep people alive during the winter.

Learning 3: No one is interested in addressing the facts of Learnings 1 and 2.

A person in any leadership position could say something like: “Sage Lewis went about sheltering people on the street all wrong. We will do it correctly.”

You could come to our tent village any time of the year and find it packed with people. I guess you could be forgiven as a homeless service provider for not realizing there were A LOT of homeless people living on the streets, in abandoned houses and cars before our tent village. But can you actually be forgiven for not acknowledging it now?

We proved there was a need. We didn’t speculate there was a need. We didn’t theorize there was a need. WE PROVED THERE WAS A NEED.

And not once. Not ever. Not even under their breath has someone said: We need to address the needs of our unsheltered citizens of Akron Ohio.

The mayor finished his article on our charity and me by saying:

When Lewis’ 15 minutes of fame are up, and his out-of-town attorneys have moved on to the next media-seeking opportunity, the city and the patient and warm-hearted Continuum of Care professionals will still be here, ready to help those most in need.

Well, here we are. The city successfully closed down our entire facility. What is the Continuum of Care doing to pick up the slack?

  • Did they open another day center?
  • Did they provide more emergency sheltering?
  • Did they did one single new thing to address the need we proved was there and was not being dealt with?

Will they deal with it? Maybe because they are a bureaucracy they move slower than an entrepreneur does in dealing with actual problems. Maybe they’ll get to it in a few years? Or a decade?

Or will they forget about it and just go back to business as usual?

Learning 4: The need is much bigger than anyone understands.

I firmly believe we could create a 50 tent village in each of the 10 wards of Akron Ohio and we could fill every single one of them up.

You see, these people have no money. They don’t have bicycles (mostly because they are constantly being stolen), they can’t afford bus passes (because our bus system doesn’t offer discounts based on income) and there is no way in hell they could possibly afford a car and all its upkeep.

So, they walk.

At the outer edge, they walk an 8 block radius. Mostly, they walk a four block radius.

Without a doubt, there are unsheltered homeless outside of the 8 block radius the facility we once had.

What might surprise the city is that I firmly believe we could fill a 50 tent homeless village in Ward 8: the richest ward of Akron. There are homeless everywhere in Akron.

But they hide and cower afraid to be seen by citizens and police.

Learning 5: It is illegal to be homeless in Akron

There is not one single place you can safely sleep in Akron Ohio that the nuisance department won’t come for you.

You will get a trespassing ticket if you are caught sleeping on public land which is a fourth degree misdemeanor.

Fourth degree misdemeanor: up to 30 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.

If you are caught a second time it immediately goes to a first degree misdemeanor:

First-degree misdemeanor: up to 180 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

And if these fines are not paid you will never get into section 8 housing. They require all of these fines to be paid before you get into a house.

If you can’t afford a bus pass how are you supposed to afford a $250 fine?

And camps are routinely closed on private land. You, as a the land owner will face fines for having an illegal campground on your land whether you permitted it or not.

There is no place, outside of a shelter, you can sleep in Akron that isn’t illegal.

EVEN IF you can’t get into a shelter because it is full, or you have been kicked out, or because you can only stay 5 days a month you will be either ticketed or forced to move if you are sleeping outdoors. That makes being homeless illegal in Akron Ohio.

Learning 6: Women often are on a waiting list for emergency shelter.

I routinely have service providers come to my building with a woman in tow asking me if I know of any place the woman can sleep.

Women, our most vulnerable citizens, are the ones that often have the hardest time getting immediate emergency shelter. And it’s harder in the winter.

Learning 7: Community is how we get people out of homelessness

Probably the biggest innovation and “ah ha” moment we had doing this work is the importance of community.

People working together. People living together. People eating together. People being respected as equals. This is more powerful than most of us acknowledge.

We found that by making our facility homeless-run we gave the homeless people we worked with something more important than food, clothing and shelter.

We gave them integrity, self-respect and meaning in their lives.

We didn’t chastise them for being homeless. We didn’t force religion on them at any part of the process. And the people who were their leaders were people just like them.

More study must be done on the impact of creating community for homeless people that have been thrown out of society and looked down on by society.

There is real value in community building for the homeless population at large.

We must meet homeless people where they are today. Not judge them for where they are today and help create an on-ramp to gradually move them back into society.

Learning 8: Housing a random sampling of homeless people is incredibly difficult, if not impossible.

The way the current homeless services sector works is that homeless people self-select to go into housing. The people that are ready to deal with the system of housing will be the ones that homeless service providers mostly see. These are the people that come to their offices.

But if you take a random sampling of homeless people you will quickly find that housing them is not easy.

By the time our village was shut down these were the numbers:

Of 46 people, these were the housed numbers in January 2019:

Yes: 32
No: 5
Self Resolved: 8 (people that walked away from the process)

And these were the numbers 3 months later:

Housed on 3/13/2019:

Yes: 26
No: 12
Not Sure: 7

So, not only could we not house all 46 people everyone in Akron committed to housing, we couldn’t keep a large percentage in the houses.

This isn’t a condemnation of the homeless service providers. This is evidence that housing homeless people is incredibly difficult.

Houses are not the magic bullet to solving homelessness everyone keeps telling us they are.

Learning 9: Homelessness is a condition that needs treatment.

These aren’t people that are simply lacking a house.

These are people with untreated mental health issues. These are people with significant addiction issues they can’t get under control.

These are people that have deplorable money management skills.

These are people who have grown up in poverty. Their parents were poor. They have always been poor. And their kids are poor. They see no way out.

Homelessness is a condition that needs much more study and understanding. We will never solve homelessness if all we focus on is the house. Otherwise, they will just fall out of their housing and end up on the street again.

Learning 10: There is significant public interest in homelessness.

We have found that people from surrounding counties will come into Akron to help the homeless of Akron.

They find the work incredibly gratifying and fulfilling. It aligns with their value systems.

They aren’t angry that the government is not doing this work. They are often conservatives that are not particularly interested in the government doing the work.

They want to do the work.

Learning 11: Homelessness can be solved in the private sector if the government would get out of the way.

(I miss counted. There are actually 11 Learnings. But 10 sounds better.)

Being a social entrepreneur is something that happens in Africa and Central America. But it is looked down upon in America. This possibly could be attributed to an embarrassment factor. “Third world poverty doesn’t happen in America.” We have proven that it most certainly does.

Social entrepreneurs need to be given space and time to innovate in the poverty sector.

Akron was built on a technology of rubber that was invented on some guy’s stove in his house. We can’t be afraid of innovation. It’s how we grow. It’s how we solve real problems.

Government is notorious for not being great at innovation. They need to let the actual innovators do what they are good at.

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So, while I maybe haven’t “moved the needle” on homelessness as our mayor somehow thinks is cool to say of a private citizen working on actual problems in his city, I do believe we have moved the needle on understanding the problems of homelessness better.

The findings here indicate there is a legitimate problem and it can be solved if government will stop berating us and just let us experiment.