INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — On Monday, some of the nearly three dozen homeless still staying at a hotel in Independence will be leaving for another shelter.
“The remaining men occupying Ramada Inn wish to continue calling on the county for a direct response and a more adequate response to this situation,” said Molly Martin, of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
Most of the men already moved back to the Luthern Metropolitan Ministry Shelter downtown, which was modified to comply with COVID-19 safety protocols by installing pods to ensure social distancing and privacy.
But the 36 people staying at the hotel over the weekend are still concerned about living in close quarters.
“And we're not going to allow you to stuff us in a shelter and then have this Delta virus coming out now. What you're trying to do is kill us -You're trying to tell us that we don't matter,” Ronald Freeman, who has been staying at the Ramada Inn.
The homeless men are asking the county to live up to an original contract allowing them to live here through August. But county officials say they were notified by Independence City officials that the men can no longer live there because of Ohio Hotel Occupancy Law.
“It’s a reality that we need emergency shelter,” said David Merriman, director of health and human services for Cuyahoga County.
Officials with Cuyahoga County’s Health and Human Services department say they are committed to improving servicing including an expansion of 70 beds to the existing men’s shelter the year.
“This is not a single population, this is a very diverse group with a host of needs and as a community, we have an absolute responsibility to address these needs, and we’re working to do that,” he said.
The Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry said they are offering $600 gift cards to help the men transition to housing.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when COVID-19 protocols took effect. The story has been updated with the correct information.
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