Poverty & Safety Net
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Dear Mayor, How Will You Help Our Neighbors Living in Poverty?

September 7, 2021
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By: Rick A. Kemm, MNO  

Dear Mayor:  

For the past 52 years, the May Dugan Center has been helping thousands of low-income individuals who lack basic human needs and may be feeling “helpless.” May Dugan’s mission—“to help people enrich and advance their lives and communities”—fulfills its mission through six core programs that are designed with specific goals to achieve successful outcomes.

 For the past 52 years, the May Dugan Center has been helping thousands of low-income individuals who lack basic human needs and may be feeling “helpless.”

Nearly 100 percent of our clients live at or below the poverty level and have experienced some form of trauma during their childhood and adult lives. Many had to drop out of school to work in order to make ends meet and to help support their families with food, rent, utilities and other basic needs. It is heartwarming to know that the many people we serve know where to come to prepare for a positive transition in their daily lives.  

As our great City of Cleveland prepares for a transition in leadership with a new mayor, some of the areas that I hope you will take into consideration to strengthen the health and human service safety net include:

  • Affordable Housing: In 2020, we received over 800 referrals from United Way’s 211 for individuals and families seeking an affordable place to live. The City of Cleveland is in desperate need of more affordable housing for low-income residents and for property tax policy changes to help maintain housing affordability for low-income and fixed-income residents.
  • Behavioral Health: We average over 300 new clients annually, however, during the pandemic we enrolled over 500 individuals for our Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder programming. This is an area that is in great need of support.
  • Trauma Recovery Center: The May Dugan Center established the first Trauma Recovery Center in the City of Cleveland. In partnership with the 4th District Police Station, MDC works closely with the detectives and officers to support families affected by gun and other forms of violence. Over the past couple years, violence has increased and is not showing any indicators of slowing down. Police recorded 673 shootings in 2020, compared with 495 through the same date in 2019 and 544 in 2018.
 Over the past couple years, violence has increased and is not showing any indicators of slowing down.
  • Food Insecurity: Since our inception, the May Dugan Center has been a food distribution site. Each year the number of individuals/families in need of food has increased. Many of our clients live on fixed incomes and suffer from chronic health diseases as a result of living in poverty. During the pandemic, we experienced a 270 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Workforce Development: In order for low-wage earners or unemployed individuals to be successful, more workforce development trainings are needed. Our Education & Resource Center prepares individuals to take the GED examination and other vocational opportunities. This training is critical to help individuals secure a sustainable job with livable wages.I extend a warm invitation to visit our center and wish you the best.  

Thank you.Rick A. Kemm, MNO Executive Director, May Dugan Center

 

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