Hundreds show support for Cleveland church fighting to help homeless

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CLEVELAND (WJW)-- Hundreds of community members and activists filled the rotunda in Cleveland City Hall Monday night before the first city council meeting of the new year.

“Really the outpouring from the community is about caring for our neighbors,” said Pastor Nozomi Ikuta with Denison Avenue United Church of Christ.

The church, located on the city’s west side, was issued a cease use notice and zoning violation on Christmas Eve after it began sheltering the homeless in November.

There was plenty of emotion as residents packed the city council meeting and voiced their concerns over the treatment of the homeless.

“We just want to call on city leaders to see the importance of having a city-wide policy during cold weather. And the situation with Denison UCC and Metanoia is part of our community’s response to cold weather,” said Molly Martin, with the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. NEOCH is also pushing the city to formulate a cold weather plan, along with a task force.

“Just so we aren’t scrambling on a cold night. We can have the policy in place so we know what measures have to be implemented,” Martin said.

Meantime, Ikuta said the church has appealed the order and is working to make the necessary changes to get up to code.

“We are just working very to make sure people can see the progress we’ve made. But we are asserting our right and obligation to do what Jesus tells us to do, which is take care of the poor and people who are in a tough spot,” Ikuta said.

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