And they are the lucky ones – women and families don’t have these same opportunities . . .
I would like to credit the homeless man who wrote this email, but I don’t know him and I don’t know if he wants his name connected to this or not – so for now, this is anonymous, but he deserves some credit for a dang good letter! And for raising this issue with the county. He’s not Occupy, so maybe he can get a response? Oh dang, there I go being hopeful and naive again . . .
Dear Mr. Saterfield,
I am writing to you at the suggestion of homeless advocate Ronnie Barbett. I am one of the many homeless men that utilize the drop-in night shelters here in Madison. I am also a volunteer working daily at the day warming shelter. Additionally, I have been working closely with Ronnie in our mission to address the homeless issues that face us every day.
Since first coming to the shelter, I have been told that there is a 60-day limit per year for the days allowed for each man to stay at the drop-in shelter. About a week ago while in the drop-in shelter, the question of the deadline date was raised among a number of the homeless men there. Porchlight drop-in shelter manager Preston Patterson informed us that any of the men that had reached a count of 60 days or more of shelter stays since November 1, 2012 would not be allowed to return to the shelters after March 10. The count for each man is posted in a list of shelter user names on the bulletin board in the Grace Church shelter.
Given this dire concern, some research was done on the list to determine the overall numbers of us that would be effected by this deadline. As of February 5, there were 62 men that had 60 or more shelter days listed. Taken a step further, it was determined that by March 10, the number would grow to 157 men on the street if they all stayed the consecutive nights to the deadline.
Mr. Saterfield, these are huge numbers that will have a great impact not only on these men but perhaps the city itself. The men stay at the shelters to have a warm and safe place to sleep. There are still a good number of cold nights in Madison that will come after March 10. And shelter access also reduces the demand on police and fire resources that may be needed because of issues that arise with homeless people on the street. Many health problems can arise from exposure to cold weather, and as you may know, the number of complaints from residents and businesses rises as the number of homeless people on the street also rises. The issue of having this great number of homeless men on the street at the deadline needs urgent attention now.
According to my research, the 60-day deadline was enacted by the county board in 2006. Since then, our economy has forced more and more people into homelessness for an extended period of time. It is my understanding that the purpose of the deadline is to keep those that might become too comfortable and complacent about their homeless situation to do what they need to find their own stability again. Having a little experience of my own and having done a little research on this issue, I would like to suggest a possible solution for future consideration. In many cities with shelters across the US, they have enacted rules to perhaps motivate their homeless guests into doing the work necessary to stabilize their lives. One sensible and comprehensive plan is to give their gusts 30 days to show that they are doing the work needed in order to get extensions for their stay in the shelters. The caveat to this is the need for the city/county to provide the resources and personnel to assist and monitor this process. But at least this gives city/county the sense that the budgetary funds for this homeless issue are being provided in a productive and progressive manner.
In the mean time, we the homeless are very concerned about the uncertainty of our safety, given this looming deadline. We would hope that the board would take swift action to address this issue as the deadline is only 3 weeks away. I would appreciate any help you can give us on this matter and I hope that you will contact me with any information you can provide. Any information that you can give me will be passed along to Ronnie and
> certainly everyone involved with this issue.
Sigh . . . more stress. More uncertainty. More crisis. More trauma. I have no idea how homeless people survive the system. I’m pretty sure, I would be drinking.
Also, I am slightly amused at the suggestion that the shelter actually incentivize people to be working to get themselves out of homelessness. It’s a great idea – but it would require that someone actually we working with people to help them do that, or somehow to have enough information about individuals to find out what they need to do and check in on if they are doing it – and there simply just aren’t the resources to do so. Even minimal case management for hundreds of people just simply isn’t available. Pretty sad. Given the increasing homelessness we’re experiencing, I don’t know what the answers are. Mo’ money! To solve the problem, not just manage it. Actually helping people get income and housing – not warehousing them.
Oh – and women get 30 days in shelter, 60 if they get a case manager, sometimes wore. They have a limit on how many people can stay in shelter and can get turned away, men don’t. Men’s shelter just keeps accepting people and has two overflow churches. The single women’s cold weather exception seems to me a moving target – can’t wait to get rules in writing, posted on site and on their websites so there is less confusion.
Families – 90 day limit per year, 180 day lifetime limit. There is a warming shelter that takes overflow when the shelter is full but to get in you have to call by noon and they let you know by 1:00 if you got in – and they don’t want you to stay more than 1 night in a row. Until a week or two ago – the families got put out in the cold.
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