The Homeless Issues Committee has had two meetings and voted on three different resolutions so far . . . and as expected, the Homeless Issues Committee is supportive of solutions for various homeless issues . . . for the most part. The interesting thing is the people on the committee that voted against the solutions.
When the Homeless Issues Committee voted on this, it was a 6 to 3 vote. The three people voting against were the police department (who allegedly supports the idea, perhaps the person there didn’t get the memo), Alder Bridget Maniaci (doesn’t want it in her district and worked hard to make sure that the building we were looking at is no longer available for sale) and Steve Schooler from Porchlight. When the City-County Liaison Committee voted on the resolution the main opposition came from the Mayor’s office and the County Executive office – who seem to take their lead from Porchlight, or Porchlight takes the lead from them, I’m not sure which.
Here, the only vote against at the Homeless Issues committee was Deedra Atkinson from the United Way, with Alder Maniaci abstaining. And at the Parks Commission there was unanimous opposition.
Restrooms, Showers and Lockers
This one surprisingly had the least opposition. The major issue was if the City-County Building was an appropriate building for these activities and concerns about having porta-potties in the Dane County Parking Ramp.
Next up, the last two resolutions go to the Health and Human Needs Committee on Wednesday evening.
What’s irritating the heck out of me is the Porchlight and United Way votes. I have learned to expect oppositions from the politicians, but Porchlight and United Way are some of the primary players in town when it comes to homeless issues and apparently if its not their idea, its not a good idea. With the United Way vote, to be generous, I think it may have been the perfect being the enemy of the good, or in this case, not necessarily “good” but “less shitty” option. I can understand that and yes, we need affordable housing for people. But we don’t have it. And yes, we need more and better shelters, but we don’t have it. This is the best we have, camping, where its at least legal
The extra concerning issue is that Porchlight has such a lock on the so much of the funding and when people are not eligible for their services, they are essentially locked out of services and they seem to want to keep it that way. Apparently they don’t believe that there is room for other models and ways of doing things. I wish they could stop being so defensive and remember their mission and accept that there may be some new ways of doing things that may serve people that don’t succeed in their current programs. And I wish they could hear the criticisms of some of their programs as opportunities to improve instead of digging their heals in and defending some pretty offensive behaviors on the part of their staff. (We need a third party complaint system!) It makes me cry when I think of the resources they are using up and the way people are getting treated when they are at some of the most vulnerable points in their lives. It is truly disgraceful, but people can’t or won’t tell you the stories out of fear – we have to break this silence.
Finally, my favorite part of the meeting last night was when Alder Maniaci was reviewing the “incidents” at the park and figured out that there really wasn’t that much there (I think she said for three months it compared to a day of what she was hearing at Occupy – that might have been an exaggeration, but it makes the point) and finally the Parks staff admitted, when questioned by one of the people at camp, that there were no violations issued to the group that is camping there.
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