The unending flood of issues that people keep bringing to the Homeless Issues Committee is going to continue to paralyze the committee and prevent them from getting anything done unless something is done to address issues in our shelter system. This list is nothing new, same stories, same issues, same complaints, no changes in anything.
I’m actually sort of surprised at the unending stories that keep getting told at the homeless issues committee. I left after three hours and they were still on the first issue of their two issue agenda. The smattering of issues raised by (mostly) members of the homeless community to the committee yesterday were as follows:
- Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or anyone else for that matter, can’t stay in shelter 1 for multiple reasons.
- Repeated and long lines and dehumanizing procedures to get into shelter.
- Locked bathrooms people aren’t allowed to use (Shelter 1) and having to stand in line and sign in before using restrooms after waiting in line outside
- Group shower issues (Shelter 1)
- Things being stolen while taking a shower (Shelter 1)
- Broken washers and dryers (at Salvation Army and Porchlight) and closing the laundry early
- Lack of physically accessible shelters and how people with mobility issues have problems getting services
- Bed bugs (Salvation Army)
- Staff favoritism (men’s shelter)
- Staff argumentative and rude attitude towards guests (men’s shelter)
- Volunteer plan for showers at the day center – but no response from staff
- Fire alarm system issues at the day center.
- Catch 22 of trying to get an ID, social security card or birth certificate – each requires another to obtain and if you have none you can’t get necessary IDs.
- Refusal to show guests the written policies (Salvation Army)
- Bans at single women’s shelter – even on “cold” nights
- Lack of respect from staff (Salvation Army)
- Lack of staff accountability
- Retaliation when you complain to staff about issues (Salvation Army)
- Unclean conditions at shelter (mens and womens)
- Staff not addressing behavior issues in the shelter (Salvation Army)
- Lack of staff training
- Waiting in lines and being forced to wait outside (Salvation Army)
- Favoritism (Salvation Army)
- No homeless persons on the Homeless Issues Committee
- Lack of portapotties in the downtown area
The committee is supposed to be working on:
Their recommendations for permanent day center.
Assessment of housing needs.
Assessment of gaps in homeless services.
But the other issues that have been raised for them to work on are as follows:
Shelter for LGBTQ persons.
Report back from sheriff department on costs of relocating people to Token Creek.
Report back on resolution City of Madison police have to deal with found property.
Bus passes for homeless persons
I’d also like to see them work on:
Detox and how people get services when they are ready.
People who go through AODA (Alcohol or other drugs) services and get dumped back on the street with no plan.
Lack of affordable housing
Perception that all the programs are for people with kids, mental health or alcohol and drug issues.
Oh, and there is more, every day. And I’m sure I missed a few issues. Unfortunately, the issues have been piling up for years and no one has been addressing them. Now that homeless persons have found their voices, been empowered and can see results from raising issues, I think there is going to me more and more pressure and more and more issues being brought up. On the one hand, its about time! On the other, we need to really get a grip on these issues and come up with a plan to address the issues so that those voices don’t get lost again.
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