Cleveland Hostel To Offer Winter Shelter For City Homeless

The Cleveland Hostel, shown here in a presentation to city council, will serve as a seasonal shelter this winter.
The Cleveland Hostel, shown here in a presentation to city council, will serve as a seasonal shelter this winter. [Cleveland City Council]
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The Cleveland Hostel is opening its doors as a seasonal homeless shelter this winter, as advocates look for socially distant ways to house people during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Homeless service providers told Cleveland City Council on Monday they needed more space close to downtown that could handle a sudden influx of people seeking shelter. The hostel, on West 25th Street in the Ohio City neighborhood, fit the bill.

The 60-bed hostel opened Dec. 1, the day of last week’s snowstorm, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry’s Michael Sering said. So far, 33 people have stayed there each night, on average.

Service providers have tried to “deconcentrate” local shelters in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

With help from Cuyahoga County’s federal pandemic relief funds, housing providers have booked hotel rooms those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have underlying health conditions, county Office of Homeless Services Director Melissa Sirak said. The county has also purchased gift cards to help homeless Clevelanders meet basic needs while staying with friends or family.

“As we laid out this cold-weather plan, we’re not necessarily sure who to expect this year,” Sirak said.

The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) has expanded its numbers of street outreach workers this year, said Director Chris Knestrick. Since March, NEOCH has seen a 30 percent decrease in unsheltered people in the area, he said.

“The great news we have here is that we are connecting with folks, we’re identifying folks that are unsheltered, and that there’s less folks out there, but there’s also an increase in seasonal shelter capacity,” Knestrick said.

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