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People


New facility to help the chronically homeless in Cleveland
The complex will give homes to people with disabilites who have been regularly homeless
Story by BRIAN BULL


 
Buckeye Square resident Constance Denson sits in her new efficiency apartment.
Courtesy of Brian Bull
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In The Region:

The fight against chronic homelessness in Greater Cleveland area is marking another milestone. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN's Brian Bull reports.

LISTEN: BULL ON HOMELESSNESS

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In her efficiency apartment at Buckeye Square, Constance Denson repeats one fact about living here versus the streets.

“I feel safe," Denson says.

For years, Denson moved in and out of homeless shelters, doing her best to keep clear of trouble and scraping by. 

But last December, she and dozens of other “chronically homeless” people moved into the new Buckeye Square facility off of Buckeye Road and East 116th Street. 

The official grand opening will not occur though until later this month.

Each tenant is provided furniture, some basic amenities, and, most importantly, a fresh start.

“I want to go back and get my nursing degree," Denson says. "Being homeless, being here to there, here to there, made it hard. Now that I’m stable and have a support system, I could do it.”

What's it take to qualify?
To be deemed chronically homeless, a person must have four extended bouts of homelessness within a three-year period, says Elaine Gimmel, chief operating officer for the Emerald Development and Economic Network, or EDEN, one of the partners in the Housing First Initiative. 

Gimmel says there are more criteria.

“Somebody has to have a disability to qualify for this building," Gimmel says. "It’s mainly mental health; it could be a physical disability such as HIV or AIDS, as well as alcohol and/or chemical dependency."

A county official says of the annual average of 5,200 homeless people in Cuyahoga County, 15 percent, or roughly 800, are considered chronically homeless.

Buckeye Square is the ninth permanent supportive housing facility the Housing First Initiative has built or remodeled since 2006. 

Another is slated to open on Detroit Avenue in the fall of 2015. 

The ultimate goal is to have nearly 1,300 apartments built, and to keep tenants off the streets for good.

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