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Homeless advocates rally at Cuyahoga County Headquarters

30 men are refusing to leave the hotel because of pandemic fears.

CLEVELAND — With emergency shelter operations for homeless men ending at the Ramada Inn in Independence, advocates held a rally outside Cuyahoga County’s administrative headquarters on Friday afternoon. 

150 men were required to leave the Ramada Inn after Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry (LMM) ended their contract with the hotel after providing temporary housing and supportive services over the last 3 months. 

As of Friday, 30 of the homeless men are refusing to leave the hotel because, as one told 3News this week, they “feel unsafe returning to the streets and congregate settings” because “the pandemic remains a serious risk for people experiencing homelessness.”

Last month, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish told 3News that Independence Mayor Gregory Kurtz gave the county until mid-July to make other housing plans for the homeless who were living at the Rockside Road hotel because the county was in violation of the law.

“You can’t have a person staying in a hotel room for more than 30 days,” said Budish at the time. 

On Wednesday night, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) sent a letter to county leadership to request that they honor the original contract date of August 31 to keep the Ramada Inn as a designated de-congregate emergency shelter location and continue supporting LMM as the lead service provider for food, security, and on-site social service needs. 

Then on Thursday, LMM proceeded with their original plan to leave the premises and worked through the day to discharge guests who agreed to return to the shelter on Lakeside Avenue or make other arrangements. 

Also on Thursday, Cuyahoga County leaders unveiled a plan to financially support the construction of a new shelter near 2100 Lakeside Avenue. NEOCH leaders believe that the move provides no immediate solution to the guests who have no safe place to turn.

You can watch our coverage of Friday’s rally in the player below:

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