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Homeless forced from downtown during RNC

Posted at 5:36 PM, Jul 20, 2016

The long-speculated fate of Cleveland's downtown homeless population has come to fruition during the convention. 

The security zone in place around Quicken Loans arena for the RNC has forced many homeless people out of their comfort zones. The question remains, how are they dealing with the situation? 

"You're trying to get people in America to vote for you, act like it," said a visibly aggravated Kimberly Evans, a woman who is taken shelter in the West Side Catholic Center. 

"We all matter, we all have a voice, it's supposed to be a democratic country, I can't tell," said Evans. 

She is a former military vet, who has found herself temporarily without a home. She claims that even getting public transportation downtown has been a struggle. 

"All of the services to help the homeless people have been disrupted," said Evans. "All of them." 

Meanwhile others in the homeless community are trying to make the best of it until the end. Most have been moved over to areas Cleveland's near-West side. 

"I'll be glad when it's over with, I really will," said Rosemary Geisbuhler, a homeless woman. 

Just weeks ago, the Cosgrove Center, a major place for food services and special programs, announced it would be closed all this week, a gut punch to those who need them. 

"That is a main source of assistance for all of the homeless population ... I understand that people who are rich and powerful have a say, but so do the poor people," said Evans. 

To soften the blow, facilities like the West Side Catholic Center and St. Malachi church have added and extended service hours and programs for the vulnerable population.

"Oh man, we've been getting a high number of that come around here, a lot more people to feed, a lot more mouths," said Traci Scott, a social worker at the West Side Catholic Care Center as she helped serve dozens of homeless people this afternoon. 

Offering food and activities throughout the day, and extra space for sleeping at night, leaders say they're doing the best they can with the circumstances they've been given. 

"That's literally their homes, so you're asking them to leave their homes," Scott said. "But we take it all in stride. We try to talk to them, get them some services, at least something, so they don't feel as though they're left out" 

There is a larger than usual number of folks camping out by the river banks just a few miles from the Catholic Center. The Cosgrove Center and other facilities will reopen next week.