June/July 2011
bttopCleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program
Issue No. 10

Meet our summer intern!


CHLAP and NEOCH are pleased to recognize Brooke Monea, who has been acting as our Legal Assistance Intern for summer 2011.  Brooke is a 2L at the University of Akron School of Law who has received a Board of Trustees Scholarship for academic achievement and is a member of the Akron Public Interest Law Society. 

Brooke said she would like to work at NEOCH as an intern "because I believe in social justice and the principle that a society is only as fortunate as its least fortunate. I feel as Americans we too frequently gloss over the epidemic of homelessness because on the surface it does not seem to impact our daily lives and it does a great injustice to our society."

Brooke's projects this summer include assisting at intake sessions and updating the volunteer manual with more resources.  She is also conducting legal research in the interest of drafting a more deeply substantive law guide.  We welcome her to the program!

Cuyahoga County Court Website Aims to Help People Handling Own Divorce

On May 28, the Plain Dealer reported that the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court has launched an updated website designed to help the growing number of people who file for divorce without lawyers. The site, which went live in June, provides easy-to-understand instructions for obtaining a divorce, enforcing child or spousal support and obtaining protection orders in cases of domestic violence. The site also includes fill-in-the-blank forms to file with the court. The new site, which replaced the then-existing Web page, can be accessed at domestic.cuyahogacounty.us/

Click here for full article. 


Two Nonprofits Serving Homeless Families Merge into Family Promise of Greater Cleveland

On May 17, the Plain Dealer reported that two organizations that help homeless families become self-sufficient have merged, the latest of Cleveland's nonprofits to double up in a tough economy. The merger, which became effective May 1, partners New Life Community, a facility with 14 apartments where homeless residents receive counseling, education and job training, with Interfaith Hospitality Network, a volunteer-driven effort that sends the homeless to stay with local faith congregations.

Together, they will become Cleveland's largest organization exclusively focused on stabilizing and transforming the lives of homeless families with children under 18, officials say. The new name will be Family Promise of Greater Cleveland.  The merger will save at least $100,000 in administrative costs, and already has allowed the programs to launch a new effort: home-based case management for families that have graduated and are living on their own.
Click here for full article.

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Ohio Supreme Court Decision

Appeal of Misdemeanor Conviction after Sentence Served Is Not Moot If Defendant Sought But Was Denied Stay by Trial Court

On June 8, the Ohio Supreme Court released a slip opinion in Cleveland Hts. v. Lewis. In a 7-0 decision the Court held that when a person convicted of a misdemeanor seeks but is denied a stay of execution of his sentence by the trial court and files an appeal of his conviction but does not also file a motion for stay of execution in the court of appeals, the defendant's involuntary completion of his sentence while his appeal remains pending does not render the appeal moot.  


Two of the justices delivered a separate concurring opinion, in which they noted that the serious potential consequences of even simple misdemeanor convictions being entered on a individual's criminal record underscore the importance of preserving defendants' access to appellate review, in this age of widespread access to criminal records and increasing use by employers, landlords, and credit bureaus among others. 

Click here for case summary, or here for opinion. 

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Upcoming clinics & events

Legal Aid Society of Cleveland Clinics

For a calendar of Legal Aid brief advice/intake clinics, please visit the Legal Aid website at www.lasclev.org

Cleveland Lawyers' Initiative on Reentry (CLIR)
Brief Advice/Intake Clinics

North Star Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center, 1:00-4:00 p.m.
2011: July 8, Aug. 12, Sept. 9
Periodic training sessions for new volunteers TBA - call Brian Lamb at (216) 566-5590 for more information.

Ohio Ex-Offender Reentry Coalition Meetings

The Coalition will meet at the State of Ohio Library in Columbus on July 13 and Oct. 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m..
The format for the all-day meetings will be general coalition business in the morning, and in the afternoon presentations by the National Institute of Justice as a part of the Ohio Learning Laboratory Series.

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In the News

Senate Panel OKs Bills Supporting Homeless Vets     

On June 29, the Echo Press reported that U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of MN announced that bipartisan legislation to help fight homelessness among America's veterans passed out of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee with unanimous consent. The Veterans Programs Improvement Act of 2011 contains a provision that would improve outreach to rural and underserved urban veterans by strengthening the existing HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program that provides chronically homeless veterans with housing vouchers and case management services, such as assistance accessing counseling and job training. Last year the VA made a commitment to end veteran homelessness by 2015. Sen. Klobuchar's provision would help the VA extend services to rural and underserved urban veterans by authorizing and encouraging the VA to partner with eligible state and local governments, tribal organizations, and community-based service providers to ensure homeless veterans have access to HUD-VASH housing vouchers and case management services.  

Click here for full article. 


Homeless Turn to Twitter for Food, Shelters 

On June 28, CNN reported that some homeless people have embraced social media like blogging or tweeting in such a way that it's garnered them needed assistance -- everything from food and diapers for children to counseling and housing. Homelessness-related hashtags, or topics, on Twitter helped one homeless woman find housing services and food banks after she'd been told no nonprofit agencies could assist her. Her experience helped inspire a website called WeAreVisible.com with tutorials to teach homeless people how to use social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Others use social media to critique and praise homeless shelters, case managers and city agencies. With the growth of free wireless services at coffee shops and free access to computers at shelters and libraries, people don't need their own Internet connection personal communications devices to connect.

Click here for full article. 


Debate Brewing over Businesses Doing Credit Checks on Job Candidates

On June 3, the News Herald reported that an Ohio lawmaker has introduced a bill that would ban credit checks in employment decisions.  State Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Cincinnati, said House Bill 131 is needed because nearly 65 percent of employers now use credit checks during the hiring process. Reece has heard from many people with financial difficulties who were surprised to learn a credit check was part of the hiring process. "They were qualified for various positions, had gone the rounds of interviews, passed the background checks," she said. "Many of them had been laid off or had something happen medically - which put them in a tough situation, considering what has happened in the economy." Five states have similar laws and 16 others are considering legislation. House Bill 131 is awaiting a second hearing by a House committee.
Click here for full article.

Cleveland Heights Stimulus Funds Difficult to Access for Homeless

On June 2, the Sun News published an article highlighting the difficulties the homeless and advocates have encountered in getting comprehensive information about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program and its eligibility requirements.  In May 2009 Cleveland Heights accepted $715,677 from HPRP to help prevent residents from becoming homeless or help homeless people quickly get stabilized, of which more than $500,000 remains.  However, "There is nowhere you can go to get information about this program," said Brian Davis, Executive Director of NEOCH.  Ruth Gillett of the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services - a sub-recipient of HPRP that is helping to coordinate the dispersal of the money - said there has been some confusion about what the money can and can not be used for, noting that "It's a shelter-based initiative, not an affordable housing-based initiative." According to Gillett, someone who has nowhere else to go and would become homeless if they did not receive this assistance is eligible.
Click here for full article.

Lawyers Serving Warriors: Pro Bono Help for Veterans 

On May 24, Law.com printed "The War Comes Home," a feature article about the efforts by in-house lawyers at Verizon Communications Inc. and others to provide pro bono assistance to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Five other law departments and more than 80 law firms have also participated in Lawyers Serving Warriors, the pro bono project that the National Veterans Legal Services Program launched in 2008. Many veterans say they aren't receiving all of the disability benefits that they're entitled to and maintain that the process of seeking benefits or disability leave can be highly complex and confusing.
Click here for full article.

New Service Could Provide Free Voicemail, Email for Homeless

On May 23, MSNBC reported that a new service called Joinable could bring voicemail, texting, and email access to the unconnected for free. The hack group, also called Joinable,  that created the system said they hope to hand it off to a non-profit organization or homeless shelter when they're finished. The system is monitored by an administrator, who can assign a toll-free 800 number to individuals. Users can recieve voicemails and texts on that number, which also comes with an an email account. Overseen by an administrator, this system could be installed by an organization like a homeless shelter or prison at a very low cost. This would mean that they could afford to let people sign up for an account for free, to be used as communication tool on a job search, for example, while monitoring the service to see that it is not misused.
Click here for full article.

School Residency Arrests Raise Fairness Questions

On May 10, the Associated Press reported that a homeless single mother's arrest on charges she intentionally enrolled her son in the wrong school district by using her baby sitter's address is raising questions about uneven enforcement of residency rules as budget-conscious cities nationwide crack down on out-of-towners in their classrooms. Tanya McDowell's arrest in Norwalk, Connecticut last month came a few months after Kelley Williams-Bolar of Akron, Ohio, was convicted of falsifying records for using her father's address to send her children to safer suburban schools. Yet in Connecticut, Ohio and elsewhere throughout the U.S., officials acknowledge parents are routinely caught doing the same thing but rarely face criminal charges.  In the Ohio case, the Copley-Fairlawn district removed about 50 out-of-towners from its schools in the past few years but only Williams-Bolar ended up before a judge. McDowell and Williams-Bolar are low-income black single mothers, a fact that disturbs civil rights activists who question whether they are being singled out unfairly.
Click here for full article.

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In This Issue
Ohio Supreme Court
Upcoming clinics & events
In the News
Volunteer Spotlight
Archived Newsletters

Welcome new volunteers!

Katheryn J. McFadden of McFadden & Freeburg Co., L.P.A. recently joined CHLAP and has been volunteering at the Community Women's Shelter.
Volunteer Spotlight

Rob AnderleRobert D. Anderle, Partner, Seeley, Savidge, Ebert & Gourash Co., LPA   

A long-serving member of the CHLAP oversight committee, Rob has volunteered with the program since its inception.  He is a member of SSE&G's Complex Litigation Division and a Contributing Author of The ERISA Survey of Federal Circuits 2010.  CHLAP congratulates Rob on being sworn in as an Officer of the Board of Trustees for the CMBA in June.
Nominations for the Volunteer
Please contact CHLAP Chair Melissa Zujkowski by email or by phone at (216) 583-7364.
Find out more
For the most current list of community events and resources, check out the CHLAP page of the CMBA website by clicking here.
Archived CHLAP Newsletters
Issue 9 - May 2011
Issue 8 - April 2011
Issue 7 - March 2011
Issue 6 - February 2011
Issue 5 - January 2011
Issue 4 - December 2010
Issue 3 - November 2010
Issue 2 - October 2010
Issue 1 - September 2010
Annual Meeting Logo
Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program
This partnership between the CMBA and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless aims to serve those in the community in need of help but least able to access legal assistance. Volunteer lawyers staff regularly scheduled sessions at many locations throughout Cleveland, including homeless shelters, to provide legal advice and assistance to homeless or at-risk individuals. Attorneys volunteer at varying levels of commitment, from helping with intake interviews and providing brief advice to accepting referrals for direct extended representation.

A program of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association  

1301 East 9th Street, Second Level - Cleveland, OH 44114

Tel.: 216.696.3525, Web: www.clemetrobar.org 

CHLAP Newsletter author:
Jessica Paine, Assistant Director of Community Programs & Information

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association 

Tel.: 216.696.3525, Email: jpaine@clemetrobar.org

We welcome your comments and suggestions!