HOMELESS, VAGRANTS, AND TRAMPS. The causes of homelessness, such as unemployment,

the lack of affordable housing and the lack of facilities for the mentally and physically infirm, are

national problems. The history of the homeless in Cleveland reflects national trends in the

numbers of homeless and the community’s response to the homeless problem. Cleveland’s

economy was seasonal and subject to the national economic cycles. In the decades prior to

Cleveland’s emergence as an industrial center, sailors and dock workers were unemployed when

the port closed in the winter, as were the canal and railroad workers. Men gathered in the city to

await the opening of the shipping season. These were some of the first homeless in Cleveland.

Cleveland suffered through the nation’s economic cycles: the depression of 1873, the Panic of 1896,

the depressions of 1915 and the post-World War I years, the Great Depression, and the economic

depression of the 1980s. Each period witnessed an increase in the homeless of Cleveland.

The assumption in the pre-industrial era was that families cared for their own; only the “worthy

poor” who were willing to work should be supported by the community. Ohio poor laws were

intended to provide relief for those who were entirely destitute, helpless and dependent upon

public charity. State law determined how local governments would provide public assistance to

their citizens if the relief was temporary. The township was the primary governmental body

responsible for the care of resident indigents. Tax levies provided funds to assist those who had no

other means of support; however, only those persons who established “legal settlement” in a

township were eligible for assistance. This requirement was instituted to prevent outsiders from

moving to a township in order to take advantage of assistance which was intended only for the

residents of the community, for once legal settlement was obtained, the community was obligated

to provide assistance.

Pre-World War I. In 1816 the Ohio legislature authorized county governments to build and

administer poorhouses and infirmaries to provide long-term relief for their poor and homeless.

Cuyahoga County was the only county in Ohio which did not establish a poorhouse, so Cleveland

took on the responsibility. The Cleveland City Charter of 1836 authorized “care of paupers in a

poorhouse,” and until the council voted to construct a poorhouse and infirmary in 1849 and levied

a tax to pay for it, the homeless found shelter in a wooden building behind the ERIE ST.

CEMETERY. The infirmary housed infirm and insane indigents as well as the poorhouse and the

Outdoor Relief Department. The poorhouse served most of the needs of the homeless until the

first widespread economic depression of the 1870s. As people became less economically

independent and more dependent on industry and economic cycles, the number of homeless

persons quickly outstripped the community’s ability to provide assistance to them. Outdoor relief,

as opposed to direct relief, consisted of the distribution of food and fuel to indigent citizens in

their homes. A tax on liquor funded outdoor relief; however, the funds generated by the tax were

usually insufficient to meet all requests for assistance, so private philanthropy supplemented the

city’s efforts.

Cleveland had its share of vagrants, tramps who rode the rails, former prisoners released into the

community without any means of support, and the unemployed from nearby communities

looking for work, in addition to the homeless who had established legal residence and were

entitled to public assistance. An 1853 ordinance provided that any person found within the city

limits “loitering about the streets, whether by day or night, and not having any known place of

residence or visible means of support and not being able to give any satisfactory account of

himself” would be jailed for 30 days and fed only bread and water. A city ordinance passed in 1878

provided that vagrants would be given temporary lodging at the city’s expense in a building

adjacent to the Central Police Station, provided they pay for their lodging by working on public

projects, such as cleaning streets and shoveling snow. “Poverty Barn” housed up to 100 “homeless

wanderers” every night in 1886. Vagrants who refused to work in return for lodging and food were

fined up to $50 and imprisoned in the county workhouse for up to 6 months. The infirmary was

overcrowded with transients and homeless. So many poor and infirm people were found in the

public streets that Mayor Herrick wanted to give police authority to transport them to hospitals at

the city’s expense. He also suggested that each hospital in the city set aside beds, again at the city’s

expense, for destitute and ailing patients.

Religious groups and the philanthropy of Cleveland’s leading citizens supplemented the

traditional sources of relief, which proved inadequate shortly after the Civil War. Civic and

industrial leaders supported the community’s relief efforts; STILLMAN WITT† founded a

boarding house for working women in 1869 and AMASA STONE† donated a building for a Home

for Aged Women in 1886. The Bethel Relief Assn. furnished temporary aid, employment and

lodging for unemployed seamen, railroad workers and transients willing to work in return. The

Cleveland Sanitary Commission and SOLDIERS’ AID SOCIETY OF NORTHERN OHIO, organized

in 1861, raised money for sick and wounded soldiers. Nationality organizations helped their own,

such as Mona’s Relief Society, founded in 1851, to provide assistance to people from the Isle of

Man. FRIENDLY INN SOCIAL SETTLEMENT, organized in 1874, provided lodging along with

religious and temperance meetings. The CLEVELAND HUMANE SOCIETY opened the Lida

Baldwin Infant’s Rest in 1887 to care for homeless children. The SALVATION ARMY opened

Rescue Home in 1892 to provide temporary shelter for “wayward and unfortunate girls.” Unwed

mothers were given lodging and religious and vocational training. The YWCA (see YOUNG MEN’S

CHRISTIAN ASSN.) provided lodging for transients. By 1890 the YWCA had established a Home

for Aged Women, the Retreat for Fallen Women and the Working Women’s Home. The Men’s

Home and Wayfarer’s Lodge grew out of the street preaching efforts of the Cleveland

Evangelization Society. In 1890 the society rented a house where young men and boys could find

shelter. For $.10 a transient could register and receive a clean nightshirt, bed, bath, and breakfast of

coffee and bread. If he could not pay for lodging, he had to provide 3 hours of work.

Cleveland had a reputation as a paradise for derelicts and undesirables because of the easy

availability of handouts on the streets and at back doors of homes. Train tramps would hop off

freight trains on the outskirts of the city and walk into town to panhandle; if they were found by

police, they were rapidly escorted to the city limits. The economic depression of the 1890s caused

widespread unemployment in Cleveland. In 1893-94 an estimated 25,000 unemployed workers

sought relief from various philanthropic, civic, and religious organizations. The city provided

outdoor relief to 2,000 families in 1892 and 15,000 in 1893-94, in addition to free medical care

provided by the infirmary. In 1895 the City Department of Charities delivered 250 tons of food per

week to families in need.

The doctrine of the “worthy poor” persisted through the 1890s and into the next century. Only

those who were willing to work in return for relief were considered fit objects of the community’s

assistance. The Chamber of Commerce Citizens’ Relief Assn. raised money to employ men at low

wages to work for the city, but there was no large-scale relief program in place. The newly formed

Park Board was encouraged by labor leaders and the city newspapers to provide work

opportunities for the unemployed during the harsh winter of 1894, but the Park Board did not

want to become a relief project. It was also suggested that the city seek the cooperation of the

railroads in preventing train tramps and vagrants from hopping off trains in Cleveland. In 1915 a

Federation For Charity and Philanthropy Committee studying the homeless problem

recommended that the city regulate flophouses and provide municipal shelters to lodge transients.

Post-World War I. The number of homeless on the streets increased after World War I. City

ordinances were revised in the mid-1920s, a reflection of the severity of the problem, to define a

vagrant or common beggar as any male person who was able to perform manual labor but who

had not made reasonable efforts to procure employment or had refused to labor at reasonable

prices. Vagrants were prohibited from gathering on sidewalks, street corners, in front of churches

and in the public parks. The advent of the automobile brought even more transients passing

through Cleveland, placing an even greater burden on the sources of assistance and threatening

the public health. The infirmary reported increasing numbers of transients suffering from

tuberculosis and social diseases. The winter of 1927 found the Wayfarers’ Lodge and the Salvation

Army filled to capacity, and transients found shelter in the city jail. In 1926 500 members of the

Cleveland Unemployed Council (CUC) presented its demands (including free kitchens, free food

for school children, free fuel and free shelter) to the Welfare Committee of the City Council. The

CUC claimed there were 95,000 unemployed men and women in Cleveland. The Welfare

Committee did not respond in any constructive manner.

Great Depression and World War II. The 1930s saw not only the usual increase in the number of

homeless in the winter due to the closing of the port, but the closing of steel mills and the Detroit

auto plants brought more unemployed men to Cleveland. Property taxes and the issuance of

bonds were the means by which Cleveland and surrounding communities funded poor relief. In

1931 the city sought approval from the state legislature to increase its bond-issuing authority; an

estimated $1.4 million was necessary to provide relief for the last half of 1931, while only $310,000

was available. In an effort to prevent the duplication of services and to conserve resources, the

Central Bureau for Homeless and Transient Men was established. Homeless men were registered

when they applied for shelter and research into the causes of homelessness was conducted.

The homeless problem had traditionally been a problem of white, seasonally unemployed men

and hobos, but in the 1930s, increasing numbers of young girls, older women, and boys found

themselves homeless in Cleveland. In Jan. 1933 a survey of freight terminals, jungles (vacant

buildings where numbers of homeless found shelter), flophouses, jails, railroad and bus terminals

counted over 5,400 homeless men, most of whom were transients, and over 800 homeless women

in Cleveland. The Catholic Diocese soup kitchen was feeding 800 men a day. The PLAIN DEALER

reported in Jan. 1933 that direct relief (the provision of food, clothing, and shelter) was given to

over 30,000 families, 20 times more than in 1929. There were several shantytowns within the city

limits, the largest of which was located at 13th St. and Lake Shore, home to 200 men, most of

whom had been unemployed for years. Train tramps hopped off freight trains at the

COLLINWOOD RAILROAD YARDS and stayed at the shantytown located at the Collinwood

Brickyard, panhandling or begging for food. The shantytown adjacent to CLEVELAND

MUNICIPAL STADIUM was burned down by the police because it constituted an eyesore to the

people attending events at the stadium.

WPA projects, federal relief programs and the construction of public housing provided

employment and eased the homeless problem (see WORK PROJECTS ADMINISTRATION). The

war years witnessed a decline in the number of able-bodied homeless men as relief rolls decreased

from a high in 1935 of 23,000 to 746 in 1944. The return of servicemen after the war resulted in a

housing shortage, particularly for single women and women with children. The revision of the city

building code in 1949 and the condemnation of unfit housing, followed by evictions, caused a

critical housing emergency. The city council considered using the CENTRAL ARMORY as

temporary housing for families with children.

Post-World War II. The 1950s and 1960s were decades of relatively little concern for the plight of

the homeless nationally, as well as in Cleveland, although migrants from the southern states and

the influx of immigrants after the war taxed available housing. Urban renewal projects demolished

inner city neighborhoods, transient hotels and flophouses, and the residents found themselves on

the street.

The economic depressions of the late 1970s and 1980s, the erosion of Cleveland’s industrial base

and the attendant unemployment, the national trend of deinstitutionalizing the populations in

mental institutions, reductions in state and federal welfare programs, and the lack of affordable

low-income housing resulted in increased visibility of the homeless problem in Cleveland.

Overflow shelters were created when General Assistance was reduced in 1990. Church-sponsored

groups and organizations, such as the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, which was

incorporated in 1989, attempt to place homeless people in temporary or transitional shelters. The

coalition publishes The Homeless Grapevine, a newspaper sold on street corners by homeless

persons as an alternative to panhandling. The Coordinating Council on Homelessness, a

cooperative effort between the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, was established in 1991 to

provide a plan for addressing the needs of the homeless in the community. The council estimated

that there were approx. 10,000 homeless people in Cuyahoga County in 1990. The Office of

Homeless of the Cuyahoga County Department of Development was established in 1993 to

coordinate services for the homeless. There are presently over 40 agencies providing emergency,

transitional, and temporary shelter, medical care, transportation, job training, and counseling for

the homeless, funded by private donations, foundations, and federal and state programs.

Location: To Be Forceably Removed from Life

About homelessholocaust

I actually do not write most of these articles, I collect them here, for my personal useage, I find Some Other's enjoy them as well, which is a side effect of my Senility. As I am a Theosophist, and also study Vedanta Society of Northern California, so Your Visitation from the Akashic records to approve my feebile works gives me Great Hope! I am 68, years old, I will Come To You in another 30 or so years. You Reinforces my Belief that in my Sleep I visit The Akashic Records when I remember my dream's. I keep notes about 'Over There." the Colour of Daylight is Darker, but the Life is Brighter, property has no meaning, and it is homish. are the energetic records of all souls about their past lives, the present lives, and possible future lives. Each soul has its Akashic Records, like a series of books with each book representing one lifetime. The Hall (or Library) of the Akashic Records is where all souls’ Akashic Records are stored energetically. In other words, the information is stored in the Akashic field (also called zero point field). The Akashic Records, however, are not a dry compilation of events. They also contain our collective wisdom.
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