Crews search for homeless between Cleveland's Shoreway, Innerbelt Bridge before brush clean-up

CLEVELAND - Organizer Brian Davis surveyed a hillside near Superior Avenue and the southbound Interstate 90 exit ramp on Monday.

His crews from the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless searched for anyone living under bridges as ODOT prepares for a massive brush clean-up.

Crews from multiple counties were to be dispatched by ODOT to an area between the Shoreway and the new Innerbelt Bridge to help the homeless.

"But we went out and searched all up and down the highway to make sure there wasn't anyone here. We just haven't seen as many people camped out over in this area for the last few years like we used to," Davis said.

The coalition has been helping ease the tensions between the homeless and the public for decades in downtown Cleveland. The Campus District, a nonprofit organization dedicated to local business development for a 500-acre area east of downtown, asked ODOT for help.

ODOT spokesperson Amanda Lee said they already had a plan in the works.

"We've been working from the Innerbelt curve and the new Innerbelt Bridge," Lee said. "We're doing a lot of litter pick up because that area had become so overgrown that the litter was just stuck in the brush. We can't always get to the litter so we need to clear out the brush. Some of it hadn't been trimmed in 30 years."

For Wendy Owens, who works at Rad Graphics on Superior Avenue, the brush coming down is a welcome sight.

"They would walk through the alley with their beer and go to the hillside. During the day they would stand out there and hold signs for free food. Now you don't see them anymore," Owen said. "It's kind of nice to look at now." 

Davis stressed that his group is there for the public to be proactive in communicating to them if anyone is having problems with panhandlers, or anyone who seems to be homeless.

To contact the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless go to www.neoch.org

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