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Wickliffe seniors help put final touches on new permanent residency for homeless in Cleveland

Posted at 12:40 PM, Sep 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 12:40:07-04

CLEVELAND — Front Steps Housing and Services Ministry has provided people who are chronically homeless in Northeast Ohio, a home for decades.

“We serve people who are chronically homeless and are permanently disabled typically with mental illness or other disabilities,” said Steve Bittence, who is on the board for Front Steps.

In October, the organization is planning to open a brand new facility that will be able to serve even more people.

Bittence said opening up the new facility on West 25th Street has been a 5-year process and it’s about time they move some 60 residents out of the old facility.

“It’s a 70-year-old building that wasn’t meant to last 70 years,” he said.

Bittence said what he is most excited about is not only that the housing unit will be able to provide 68 homes, up from the previous facility’s 60, but also that there will be services there, too. Those services include mental health treatment, drug and addiction services and more.

The group is putting the finishing touches on each apartment and the building itself, and that includes unpacking pots and pans, toiletries and other items that make each apartment feel like home for the residents.

Bittence, who is also a dad of a Wickliffe High School senior, thought it would be a good idea to get some students to Cleveland to see the new facility and help get each room ready.

He said he wanted them to learn about chronic homelessness and people who struggle with mental health.

“We spent some time talking to them about permanent supportive housing and struggles with homelessness and mental health. I hope that they learn about how other folks are living and the struggles they face, and how we all need to chip in and help those folks,” he said.

For senior Tyler Fisher, it was one of the first times he realized there’s a big problem with homelessness in Northeast Ohio.

“This is definitely newer for me, learning about all this, and I’m happy to be able to help,” he said.

The average stay for someone at Front Steps Housing and Services is about 700 days and Bittence said, typically, after their stay they’re ready to move on and fully support themselves.