Where Should the Homeless Go?

Posted November 6th, 2012 @ 8:26 AM by

Madison still wants to know! Coming soon to a neighborhood near you?

It’s a little unclear what is going to happen with Occupy Madison. The City seems to be just ignoring us. After being there for 10 days, we still haven’t seen a building inspector, health department staff person, streets department person, fire inspector, etc. Despite all the issues raised last year – we are there without a camping permit and there are no concerns about needles and biohazards. Police have been there to visit on during the first two days, and again on Friday when we asked them to come and tell us what is going on.

The Mayor says that people can stay until people find housing and that city and county staff will come help them find housing. (They can probably hear me LMFAO on the far west side.) So far, no one from the county or city has showed up except 3 homeless outreach workers from Porchlight and Tellurian. 2 only work with people with mental illnesses and 1 only works with people with alcohol issues – but they make some exceptions. Sina is working her butt off to get names and stories, and to get people applications, but most people have filled out much of that paperwork already and are on waiting lists. One person there has been number 1 on a waiting list with Porchlight for 4 months. Another worker, Stephanie got kicked out since everyone who has ever dealt with her related to camp has met with disaster of some type or another (kid taken away, in jail, missing, she refused to work with them and that set them off and they got in trouble). I still have a family living in my house as a result of that. So, she has no fans! And I hear Mike was there once, but he has made it clear to me, he can’t help with housing. Yeah, he’s the most realistic.

The police have told us that if the warming center goes in across the street, we have to move. They will post the property for no trespassing and give us 48 hours to leave to go to our “next” place. They made it clear that they will not arrest us and will work with us, they will give us a warning and if people don’t leave, then they might get tickets and if they still don’t leave, then there will be an arrest, but they are going to give us time to leave and be reasonable. And yes, they aren’t saying we have to disband, just find another location. (More on this below.)

Meanwhile, we sit there in limbo, wondering . . .
1. The construction people will let us use one of their porta-potties, but they want permission to put it there, can we have permission?
2. Will the city pick up our garbage? (Hopefully we get carts today)
3. Can we have a larger tent?
4. What kinds of heating equipment can we bring in without crossing the fire department?
5. Will we have to move? And why us? And where?

So, where should the homeless go? This (below) is from the handout we had at the rally, but we need a place that has a campground permit and we have only found two in the city. But they are both county owned, one is closed and one we need their permission to be there and we have been told we won’t get permission. If we want our own camping permit we need to find land zoned conservancy. Or, we have to do it as we are now, without a permit. There are no good answers. We did research all summer, drove all over the city (I must have wasted at least 3 tanks of gas or more and learned a lot about the city), preparing for the day the camp ground closed, and we still have no good choices. No legal place to go. No legal place to sleep if you are homeless and can’t get into the shelters.

So, here’s info from the handout we had at the rally. What would you suggest?

Homeless Facts You Should Know
– Men have 60 days in the shelter per year but unlimited space and exceptions for cold weather.
– Women had 60 days in the shelter per year, but there is only room for 30 per night.
– The women’s shelter is full almost every night and 6 – 12 women are turned away.
– Families have 90 days per year, but also a 180 day lifetime limit to stay in the shelter.

We know what we need to do!
In July, Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM) produced a report and submitted it to the county board. That report had the following recommendations:

– Select at least one of the identified alternative Occupy spots for individuals involved in Occupy to reside through November 30th, 2012.
– Extend 14 day camping limit in County parks to 60-90 days for those living on campsites.
– Identify and establish locations for utilization as storage space:
– Decrease the number of violation tickets given to individuals who are homeless:
– Establish car camping sites or parking spots for those living in their cars;

– Make available one or more sites to provide day shelter within the next year. These sites should include:
– Partnerships with the UW, Edgewood, and Madison College
– Community garden spaces

Long Term:
– Create additional low income or cooperative housing:
– Develop a wet shelter. The site should include:
– Partnerships with area businesses

Alternatives to Occupy Site
The MUM report listed the following alternatives to the Occupy site:

Possible Sites for Occupy Madison
– Alliant Energy Center
– Lakeview Park
– Labor Temple
– Lake Farm Park
– Mendota Park
– Token Creek
– Lake Kegonsa
– Dane County Human Services Northport

Since that time, many people in the community have been out looking for a place for homeless people to legally reside, and the answers are hard to find. We have considered the following options from the plausible to the absurd. And all have their challenges.
– Do nothing, people suffer.
– Bus tickets out of town $25,000
– Buy a building (we looked at options from $300,000 – $1.6 million including old office buildings, warehouses, churches, etc)
– Occupy or seek permission to occupy a piece of land.
– Burr Jones Field
– Old Occupy Site
– Site across the street from the old occupy site
– Breese Steven Field
– Union Corners
– Golf Courses
– Lyckburg Park
– Lakeview Park
– Land in front of the Human Services building at 1202 Northport
– Lake Farm Park
– UW
– Mendota
– Park in Town of Madison
– Park in Blooming Grove
– Buy a piece of land and start a private campground (John Nolen or Rimrock area
– Rent a space (Fyfes, 15 N Brearly, Warehouse, etd)
– Occupy foreclosed homes
– Look for buildings to live in – Old Nurses Dorm at Northport, Truman Olson, Mendota boarded up buildings

Other ideas
– By a hobby farm
– By foreclosed apartment building
– Build Mud Houses
– Build Igloos
– Build tiny houses
– Buy old trailers to live in
– Live in the back of old U-haul type trucks
– Buy a Bus to live in with some huge army tents
– Ice fishing huts
– Mini Storage Units
– Horse Barns at Alliant Energy Center
– Houseboats
– Parking Ramp
– Parking spaces


– We’d need a camping permit to be legal wherever we go – unless it is a building or street spaces
– Neither the city or county seem willing to give permission for us to do anything (Although the mayor has said the car campers at Union Corners will not be hassled if they are following the laws.
– Money

What’s Next

You decide.

And that is how we ended up back at 800 E. Washington Ave. There was no legal place to go we could find. And now, if we have to move . . . what are the next options?

Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media | Wisconsin

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