Open Letter to City Officials on No Place to Go 2/17 – 4/16

Posted January 28th, 2013 @ 10:32 AM by

Through a little mistake on the city’s part, camping is not allowed (permitted or conditional) under any zoning in the new zoning code . . . hoping they can fix this. And be creative to help us solve our on-going issue of . . . say it with me . . . NO LEGAL PLACE TO GO!

To: Mayor Paul Soglin
Madison City Council Members

From: Occupy Madison (not Occupy Madison, Inc.)

Re: No legal place to go February 17th – April 16th

Date: January 29, 2013

As you know, there are many homeless persons in the City of Madison with no legal place to sleep at night. The shelter system has annual limits (mostly 60 days/year) and others cannot use shelters because their families can’t stay together or otherwise cannot participate in the shelter system due to physical and mental illness or a variety of other issues. As a result, throughout the City of Madison, there are many people sleeping exposed to harsh winter conditions without adequate shelter every night.

After complying with orders to leave 802 East Washington Avenue for the second time on November 9th, 2012, we relocated to Lake View Hill, only to be forcibly removed and relocated out of the City of Madison to Token Creek County Park. When our 90-day permit expires on February 17th, there will literally be no legal place for us to go until April 16th when the county parks open once again.

As you know, our recently formed non-profit–Occupy Madison, Inc–has consistently pursued other options and will continue to do so. However, the process of finding and securing a suitable privately-owned site is incredibly challenging. Simply buying a building is not enough. In order for us to be truly successful, we must have time to engage in extensive dialogue with the local community to make sure that all valid concerns can be addressed comprehensively. It is clear that we cannot possibly reach a solution by February 17th. Worse yet, the new zoning code still provides no provisions for legally camping in the City of Madison, even if we were to secure a piece of private property in the next three weeks.

So, we are writing to ask for your help. There are 20 – 25 people at Token Creek (and many, many more within the city limits) who will have no legal place to sleep from February 17 – April 16. We have run out of options for the immediate future, and we do not want our homeless members to return to the street in isolation–without the safety of community, without friends around them to share the experience, without encouragement to move forward.

We welcome any suggestions you can provide to address our needs. As a starting point for the discussion, we propose the following actions to be taken by the City of Madison:

1. Modify the zoning code to allow camping within the city limits under specified conditions.
2. Help us identify a piece of property that could be temporarily used for camping until April 16th.

Thank you for considering our requests. We look forward to hearing from you.

Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media

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