Word on the street is that you will get arrested for trespassing if you are in the city-county building and that the city has declared war on the homeless. Not that the word on the street is always right. But rumor has is a plain clothed police officer handed out something saying that people were not allowed to sit in the city-county building and that they would be arrested for trespassing if they go in there to cool off or sit down. So many homeless believe they cannot go sit in our public buildings in this hot weather. The issue is further exacerbated by the recent activity of police on State St. and around the capitol in the last few days, threatening to ticket people who had a blanket or were resting their head on anything. And the recent aggressiveness on otherwise ticketing the homeless in the last few peoples. People on the street believe Soglin has declared war on them – so they don’t think city facilities are an option in this weather. It’s also been made clear by businesses that people are not welcome unless they are buying something. So that also doesn’t seem like an option. So, with this population feeling alienated and pushed out or pushed around (rightly or wrongly), where are they to do in this weather?
Worse yet, in order to get anywhere, many people walk or ride their bikes. Many services for the homeless are spread out all over the city and there aren’t bus pass programs that help people go get their mail, get a free meal, get to their doctor’s appointment, resolve food stamp issues, get to food pantries, etc. etc. etc. So, I have friends who have had heart attacks who will be riding their bikes and walking around in this weather in order to get their appointments met today and in the next few days.
What is the city’s response to this? The non-profits that serve the homeless? The Dane County and Madison Public Health Department? The county response?
chirp . . . chirp . . .
The best I can come up with is this press release from yesterday . . . Parks Department, Public Health and the Mayor’s Office have this advice:
June 26, 2012
For Immediate Release
Stretch of Hot Weather Demands Attention for Health & Safety
An extended period of hot and humid weather will mean extra precautions for residents to stay safe and healthy.
“The weather forecast calls for some very warm temperatures in the coming days,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “One of the most important things we should all keep in mind is to keep watch on friends and neighbors who may not have air conditioning. Please check on elderly neighbors and if possible, invite them to your home.”
Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death. During conditions of extreme heat, spend time in locations with air-conditioning such as shopping malls, public libraries, senior centers and other public buildings.
Water related activities in Madison Parks are one way to help people cool down.
Cypress Spray Park, 902 Magnolia Lane – FREE open daily 11a.m. – 7p.m.
Regional Beaches: Daily 11a.m. – 7p.m. FREE
- BB Clarke Beach, 835 Spaight St.
- Olbrich Park Beach, 3527 Atwood Ave
- Tenney Park Beach, 1414 E. Johnson St.
- Vilas Park Beach, 702 S. Randall St.
Neighborhood Beaches: 12:30-4:30p.m. FREE
- Bernies Beach, 901 Gilson St.
- Esther Beach, 2802 Waunona Way
- James Madison Park Beach, 614 E. Gorham St.
- Olin Park Beach, 1156 Olin-Turville Court
- Spring Harbor Beach, 1918 Norman Way
- Warner Park Beach, 2930 N. Sherman Ave.
Check the beach website for Public Health closings: www.cityofmadison.com/beaches
Goodman Pool, 325 W. Olin Ave, Recreation Swim from 12:30-4:30p.m. & 6:15-8:00p.m. Kids are $3.00, Adults are $4.50
Older adults and young children are particularly susceptible to extreme heat. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.
The most common forms of heat-related illness are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and cramping. Heat stroke is an emergency in which the body loses its ability to cool itself. To respond to heat stroke, CALL 911 or go to the closest emergency room.
To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, remember to keep cool and stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool fluids – alcohol and drinks with large amounts of sugar can actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
By using common sense and showing compassion for those around us, we can have a safe and healthy summer.
For additional information:
Laura Whitmore, City Parks 266-5949
Jeff Golden, Madison Dane County Public Health 243-0302
Katie Crawley, Mayor’s Office 266-4611
Kinda silly advice for the homeless. I guess they can go to the beaches, but I’m sure that would be frowned upon and the parks department is one of the groups of people that have cracked down on the homeless. I don’t have air conditioning in my house. I don’t think my colleagues in the Social Justice Center (yes, even the Social Justice Center) would be happy if I opened up our conference room for the homeless to hang out. And calling people wastes their precious minutes, if they have phones.
I suspect many will be hanging out in libraries and other places, hoping they don’t get hassled and glared at for just existing. And doing what everyone else will be doing, trying to stay cool. Seems like we as a community should have a better plan tho. Shouldn’t we?
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