There is no legal place to go . . . and the Mayor says that the Council shouldn’t let people guilt them into feeling like it is their problem.
This is from the council meeting last Tuesday night. There hasn’t been an agenda item for us to talk to the council since the budget – so if we want to get their attention, we have to do it under another item – since our emails go mostly unanswered – but there are a few who respond, which I appreciate. The item people chose to speak to was item 39, the $1,100,000 roof for Olbrich Gardens. But no roof for the homeless . . .
Kieth Valliquette opposes the item because he finds it distressing that the council can spend $1.5M to shelter plants from a leaking roof yet we can’t get any shelter for individuals like us camping at Token Creek. You have no trouble putting in that amount of money when there are people at Token Creek that have serious health problems and it is endangering their health and safety from the environment, so he is opposed.
Ron Kamin – passes.
Allen Barkoff registered in opposition to repairs at Olbrich Garden, he is not really opposed to the repairs, he just thinks that a small portion of the money should be used to help the folks at Token Creek. What he is going to say next is not as a representative of Occupy Madison, but as a resident of Madison concerned with the welfare of homeless people currently camped at Token Creek campgrounds. He would like to see a small portion of the $1.5M at Olbrich Gardens be used to provide a parcel of land to be used by the people that are currently at Token Creek for just two months because they are going to be evicted on February 17th according to the county’s plan. This would be just until the county campgrounds open again, at which time they would move back to the County Campgrounds. They really have no legal place to go within the city, there is absolutely no legal place for them to stay, other than the shelters, which are . . . . Some of the people who are at Token Creek are banned, for life, believe it or not. The shelters are at GRace Episcopal Church and others do not want to go there because they will be using up their 60 shelter days and they will have nothing after that for the year. Also, others do not feel safe, they feel safer at the campgrounds because there is community. As imperfect as the current location is, and it is rather imperfect, as you would guess camping outside in the winter would be, but they would prefer to stay at Token Creek rather than the shelter system, so that says something about the shelter system, I believe. The county has refused so far to discuss this, so he and others would like to see the city help them out. So far, no alders and the mayor have offered to help these folks. They are in quite a dilemma and at the same time supporters and allies like myself have been working to obtain a building and there have been many obstacles and so far we don’t have a building. This might sound a little bit – sour grapes, it is the only thing I can think of, but the city can spend $25,000 to hire a consultant for a hotel to house conventioneers while they go to the convention center, 4 alders requested $250,000 for consultants and planners for an indoor public market. I am not against any of these things, I just think there is money available. At the same item the city has spent $85,000 to demolish a perfectly structurally sound building on S. Park St. and as you probably know you are sitting in a room right now where $200,000 was spent to upgrade the facilities here and I really didn’t hear a lot of complaints, maybe you did, for what it was before. But you can’t find a place in the city for two months for folks living out in the cold in tents, in the winter, at Token Creek, where it was flooded and it is now frozen. The people at Token Creek just need two months at an acceptable location, they are not asking to be put up in the Hilton Hotel, he is asking for a little bit of the money that I think is available for a small parcel of vacant city property to be used by 15-20 homeless folks until the campgrounds open and so far nothing offered from the city or the county. He could say more, but he better not.
Benjamin Pierce registered in opposition – wrote on slip he supports Allen Barkoff.
Meg Rothstein says she supports what Mr. Barkoff just said, she is a proud member of Olbrich Botanical Gardens and came while she supports Olbrich and would like a new roof for Olbrich, could we take a little money and help these people who have no place to go.
Trina Clemente is also a proud member of Olbrich Gardens, it is awkward to be taking this time, the city has known that there has been a deadline looming for 90 days for the folks out at the internment camp at Token Creek for Madison’s homeless and we have tried to work with the city and there is no other item or time to speak about this or the impending emergency on February 17th where the 90 days are up where the incredibly fantastic facilities are in inches of water, blankets, boots, coats, clothing soaked to the bone, followed by freezing train where people cannot extract their clothing from the ground or their sleeping bags to wash, dragging them in to town 7 miles to the nearest laundromat. Cannot even extract their daily living items from the ice and there has been no word whatsoever so it puts her in the awkward position of speaking about the Olbrich Gardens roof, she is a proud member, she supports Olbrich Gardens, she was there all summer and the fall and I did not feel as tho the roof was going to collapse on her, she feels as tho a small portion of the funds could be used for a small parcel for 2 months and once the campgrounds reopen then the homeless folks who stay in the campgrounds all summer long will pay to stay there, it is income generating, not income sapping for the city, county and parks department, they pay and allies pay and raise money and we have never gotten a waiver of any fees or favors to stay in those campgrounds but they will be left with no legal place to sleep and be or conduct any other human biological needs legally in the City of Madison, that is unacceptable and then we spend $200,000 to revamp a meeting room, $1.5M for a repairs for a roof that is perfectly serviceable at this time and she would ask that we look carefully and introspectively at our priorities and take a tiny, tiny portion of that money and put it towards human rights.
Ed Kuharski says that the point that we should prioritize people at least on an equal par with plants is a value we should be clear about in our city and we are not, and it is disturbing to him that we continue to not be prioritizing, even in the near terms and several people spoke to the current crisis. No one returned the emails that Brenda Konkel sent out, multiple times in the last few weeks about what are we going to do about the impending loss of Token Creek Park February 17th, this month. So he is asking you to please help solve this, that is what you are here for, that word “all”, all means all. Everyone has to have a roof before . . .this is like you eat meat and potatoes before you can have dessert. Plants are wonderful, I love Olbrich Gardens, its a great restorative place for those who cannot afford to go to Hawaii, you just go in the dome, its great, but we have to work a balanced program and we are not doing it and I don’t know why we are not doing it, I do feel like we need to revisit our fair housing ordinance, we were leaders in the nation and the first in the state to act way before the civil rights law and way before Milwaukee Civil Rights Law, but we have a hole in it, we can’t site a facility that we are willing to pay for entirely through private means anywhere in the city, if it is anywhere near any concentration of wealth it will be bought out from under us as has happened twice now. So we need some other means to legalize even the ability to help these people, because it is not just about that we don’t allow people to sleep on the sidewalk, in New York City is it legal to sleep on the sidewalk if you don’t block more than 50% of it. We’re not even there yet, our shelter system is deeply flawed. As an architect it is a violation of minimum standards of human habitation and we have let it happen for years. It has been a shameful thing for me to learn about that. He could comment on any of these other items in Public Works, resurfacing issues and proposals and studies for improving this building and other things. You are looking at millions of dollars you are being asked to approve tonight and none of it, no crumbs, for the several hundred people who are without a roof tonight, we have to find a way to legalize being homeless in this city and this county and no one has stepped up to do that yet. It is absolutely – we outlaw people, Token Creek Park has turned our city into a sun down town, like in the past when blacks were not allowed to be in a certain city overnight, we now bus these folks out of Token Creek after sun up and bus them back before sundown and that is a shameful thing that we are recreating that in our city.
Gina Beahlen – she is here to speak to them as part of the homeless sector of the community, she spent two months at the Salvation Army, and has never endured such a humiliating experience. She does not see why they would not consider the humans on the street right now, instead of the $1M going into this project that you want. $1.5M could really service a lot of the homeless people that are on the streets today, that everyone complains about, no one wants to deal with, no one has taken the time to figure out why they are there. She just went to court because when she was at the Salvation Army she was accused of verbally abusing staff members there, which never occurred and she was thrown out on the street and had no where to go and then she was fined $429 for trespassing on the very place she was staying at and no one is listening, or bothering, no one wants to look at the homeless people, no one wants to do anything about it. $1.5M right now could do a lot, the day warming shelter that is going on right now on E. Washington that is being run by Sarah Gillmore is a godsend. So many people are being able to get their acts together and work on getting to a better place, other than that they would have no place to go, they would be standing on the streets, with people looking at them. Why are you standing there, oh, I am waiting to get into shelter. It is humiliating to be homeless, I never thought I would be there myself, I owned a business for 20 years. And here I am, and I am in a facility that for some reason gets away with treating people worse than animals. If animal rights activists found out how humans were being treated at this place maybe something would be done, but right now she is not sure anyone is paying attention, you are all complaining about it, nobody wants it, no one wants to look at the homeless people, but you want to go and build something else, when $1.5M could really do a lot for the homeless situation in Madison. She hopes they would find it in their hearts to reconsider spending money in a place where maybe it is needed, but where it is really needed is for the homeless.
No alders have anything.
Mayor says he has something and has Shiva Bidar-Sielaff take the chair.
The Mayor says if the council is not going to say anything, he thinks someone has to. Romnes Apartment, Gay-Braxton, Bayview, Truax, Webb-Darbo, dozens and dozens of scattered site facilities and even more facilities operated by community based non-profits which are supported by the City of Madison and the Community Development Authority. This city spends millions of dollars every hear, 10s of millions over the last decade, to provide money that if that had not been spent most of those folks living in those 1000s of units would be homeless. So he would suggest that no one be under the sadly mistaken impression that nothing is being done or that priorities are not in order. The other thing he wants to mention is that he received a couple emails on this and he wants them to know that perhaps you received them as well, but he responded and asked for the specifics as to who was at Token Creek and a listing for each person in terms of their being turned away from shelter and he got two responses and neither of them answered the question, so he would suggest no one be guilt tripped into what you heard tonight, into thinking that this city government is not responsive and hasn’t put significant amounts of money into shelter, into temporary housing, and most importantly into permanent housing for individuals and families that could otherwise not afford it. He could say a whole lot more on the subject but for the time being and given the fact that we have over 25 registrants on another waiting to speak and we have to reconsider another item, where we have adopted it and there were two registrants on a public hearing, we should probably get on with the evening’s business. Thank you.
Marsha Rummel thanks the Mayor and she is glad he spoke, what she was thinking when people were testifying is that we are not doing our jobs to let you know that pot of money that looks like low-hanging fruit cannot be assigned in the way that you would want it to be, it is in our capital budget, it is borrowing money and the money we use for shelter and community services is in out operating budget so that you don’t think that oh my god, they are not spending this money that they could spend on something that we think is important, why this won’t happen. She has responded to the emails from Ms. Konkel. She has asked council leadership what we can do, and she doesn’t really know the answer. She will ask the Mayor and the Parks Superintendent, is there any way one of our city parks could be opened up? Maybe our city engineer could talk about a greenway? Is there any way that you all would be willing to agree to as a a temporary solution until we figure this thing out?
Mayor says we don’t have a campground in any of our parks.
Rummel asks if it has to be a campground. Is that kind of a fiction, I mean, they are not paying.
Mayor says that campgrounds are regulated by state law.
Rummel says that a campground is a business entity where I own this land and I let this little plot for you for $12 a night, or whatever it is, it doesn’t really seem – in the summer they are paying money in a campground – I guess there is no public – people sleep outside all the time mayor, they do in my district, we all know they sleep everywhere and it seems so artificial to say we can’t have a campground.
Mayor says he can’t argue it from the chair, it would not be appropriate.
Lisa Subeck says that not that this is the ultimate solution, but she did hear last night that at least one county board supervisor is introducing or has introduced a resolution extending the stay at Token Creek, which is not the ultimate solution in the long haul, it is a stop gap measure, hopefully that will pass and alleviate some of the immediate concern.
EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH MAYOR
This is the initial email that the mayor is responding to:
from: Bruce Wallbaum
to: “Green, Lynn”
date: Sun, Feb 3, 2013 at 11:38 PM
subject: End of Permit at Token Creek
Re: Token Creek Special Permit
To: The Dane County Executive, Mayor of Madison, County Board, City Council, and Staff
After February 17th the people living at Token Creek will have no legal place to move.
We have tried to acquire a building, rent a building, locate legal public land, find affordable private land, and get a short term lease for warehouse or office space. We are out of options!
We might have enough volunteers to move the 20-25 people’s belongings, but without a destination, we cannot move anything.
Our continual invitation to discuss this has remained open since November 2012.
This is the mayor’s email to Bruce:
From: Soglin, Paul [mailto:PSoglin@cityofmadison.com]
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 8:56 AM
To: Bruce Wallbaum
Subject: RE: End of Permit at Token Creekfrom: Bruce Wallbaum
Which shelters did you contact and why were people turned away?
from: Bruce Wallbaum
to: “Soglin, Paul”
cc: Brenda Konkel
date: Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM
subject: RE: End of Permit at Token Creek
Dear Mayor Soglin,
The list of reasons the shelter is not always answer, and when it does work, it’s for 60 days. (Brenda, please add anything I may have missed)
Out of Days
Capacity at Salvation Army for women and families (It appears they may have stepped up in the past week)
Hours for people working
DIGNITY, DIGNITY (Worth mentioning twice)
I chimed in:
from: Brenda Konkel
to: Bruce Wallbaum
cc: “Soglin, Paul”
date: Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 1:48 PM
subject: Re: End of Permit at Token Creek
- PTSD and mental health issues where people can’t be locked in that type of environment
Women shelter full
- Missed bus and being too late to call to get in
- More than 20 degrees outside (but still freaking cold)
- No ID
- oh, and I’ll add a third time – DIGNITY!
After the meeting I sent this to the Mayor and all council members.
from: Brenda Konkel
to: Bruce Wallbaum
cc: “Soglin, Paul”
date: Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 7:41 PM
subject: Re: End of Permit at Token Creek
Mayor – Just watched your testimony – I don’t have releases of information for everyone – but here is my assessment of why people can’t stay in shelter – for the 28 people that I listed in the point in time survey for the city. Sorry if our previous answers were not specific enough.
5 Severe mental health issues – can’t deal with the physical environment, enclosure issues, ptsd, etc
2 have pets
1 is banned
5 couples who prefer not to be split up
2 women out of days at shelter
6 alcoholics who get turned away
1 doesn’t have an id
3 women refuse to go to shelter – all three about rape issues not necessarily related to the shelter, but it triggers something for them – for different reasons
Some were listed more than once/have multiple barriers to being able to use the shelter – the rest it boils down to dignity and bed bugs and independence and safety and stuff getting stolen.
I have also attached the point in time survey from January 31st that has more specific information about the people at Token Creek that I filed with the CDBG office on behalf of Occupy Madison Inc – I included people who stayed at camp that night, the 4 people living in my house and the people who stayed at the Sun Prairie Church that evening. (Look at the PIT tab in the spreadsheet)
Just so you know, we are having a very hard time getting the alcoholics help – one has been hospitalized twice, in detox once and in jail since the beginning of December and we would LOVE nothing more than to have this person removed from camp and get some help, but it seems near impossible. I believe she will die out there at Token Creek and I personally do not support an extension of time there. (Wiggie’s resolution to extent time is reported likely not to pass and will not get to the board before the 17th of February. Additionally, they have the issue that the board does not control what happens in the parks, the parks commission does – so it is only a request.)
The other issue is folks who are too drunk for shelter and not drunk enough for detox, where do they go? The other night I let a couple sleep on my basement floor because the woman was drunk and couldn’t get into the single women’s shelter. It was one of those nights were it was below zero and I could come up with no other solution and was worried she would freeze to death.
Also, you should know that the waiting lists for the housing you listed off (http://www.cityofmadison.com/formshousing/public_housing.htm) are as follows:
1-Bedroom Unit (Disabled Designations) = 12+ Months
1-Bedroom Unit (Age 62 or older Designations) = 3 – 6 Months
1-Bedroom Unit (Age 50-61, no disability) = 12+ Months
1-Bedroom Unit (No Designation) = Indefinite wait time
2-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
3-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
4-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
5-Bedroom Unit = 1-2 Years
The folks at Token Creek are the tip of the iceberg – they are tired of hiding, tired of tickets and simply looking for a legal place to sleep more than 60 days a year – a safe place to leave your belongings and a place to call home.
No responses to that email.
EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH MARSHA RUMMEL
Basically it was a back and forth of us trying to find a time to get together.
Categories: | Dane | Madison | Media