From Monday’s Board of Estimates (City) Meeting . . .
Yay: They required rules to be clearly posted at the shelters.
Boo: They pay for additional shelter by taking from the Day Center.
Yay: They say they will restore that money later if it is needed. Um, it’s needed.
The issue is should they $10,000 more money to the shelters so that people don’t get turned away during cold weather. Seems silly, one would think that would be the job of a shelter – but I guess not – not unless they extract more money from the city.
Brenda Konkel – I hand out the rules for the shelter (posted below). Explain that I support this because we need the money for the families and the single women who have been getting turned away from shelter. I spent too much time this winter trying to figure out why 2 families can’t get into shelter one night, or why one family can’t get into shelter another night. And why there is one woman with a 2 year old, a 1 year old and an infant out on the street tonight and its because they get turned away because there is not enough room in the shelters. Particularly for families, its a space issue. For single women there is a lottery and if you don’t make the lottery then you find out you get turned away that night, when you are at shelter and all the agencies are closed and there is no place left to go. So, I am happy that you are doing this. One thing I would ask is that you add a be it resolved that the cold weather exception policy be clearly posted at the shelters. The reason for that is that I just handed you the men’s shelter rules and and if you look number 4, 7, 9, 17, 22 and 24 list reasons why you can be permanently banned and there is no mention of the cold weather exception. While some of these things might be legitimate, I just want the policy to be clearly posted. One of the issues I have been having is that I run into someone and I tell them that they can get into shelter and they tell me that can’t because of “blah, blah, blah” and I tell them the exception policy is as it was told to me and then they tell me it is something else and that they tried to get into shelters and they can’t. So I am just asking that in this resolution, if they are going to get extra money, that they post the policies, it would really go a long way towards helping us get the out right information out on the street because it has been extremely difficult. The other issue is that I testified in support of this at the CDBG commission in support and then I realized where the money is coming from. And I wanted to beg and plead for you to take this out of the contingent reserve instead, the reason for that is that the day center which is where you would be taking the money from is in desperate need of operating funds. What happened this year was that there was a generous donor who gave the Tenant Resource Center $25,000 and we hired Sarah Gillmore and she spent a couple months getting ready to open the shelter because we had been talking about a day center for a long time and she was going to apply for funding to do something like this before the county came up with this plan. And so we had someone working on a lot of the policies she was then able to put in place as a Porchlight staff member. And the amount of work and effort and time and energy that is will take to shut down that center and then reopen another one, they need the staff time to be able to do that and work on some of the policies and the things they need to do to get ready for the center. That money is desperately needed, even if it doesn’t open until the first of November, which I hope it gets opened sooner than that. They just really need that money, no matter who runs it.
QUESTIONS OF SPEAKER
Mike Verveer asks me about the Salvation Army, since I comments mostly on Porchlight. Are there similar issues at the Salvation Army.
Konkel says yes, it is very difficult because if you don’t actually go into the shelter you can’t actually get the rules. They are not posted on the website, even when they are posted in the shelter it is difficult to figure out where they are posted. And getting copies of the rules from the staff are often difficult. And I know one person who will testify that went and asked for a copy of the policies and was told she couldn’t have them because they are 200 pages long and they refused to give it to her, so I don’t know why that happened, why that particular incident happened, I just think there is a need for more transparency for the rules to be in writing so everyone can see them, so that advocates and allies as well as the people using the shelters have the same understanding of what the rules are – because I think it leads to a lot of confusion and frustration and complaints. Information would be a really good start.
Verveer asks if I have seen the Salvation Army rules.
Konkel says “I have not”.
Verveer smiles and says I can’t imagine 200 pages.
Konkel says I can’t imagine why I haven’t seen them. Because I have asked for them, but you get the bureaucratic shuffle.
QUESTIONS OF STAFF
Satya Rhodes-Conway asks Jim O’Keefe if he has any comments on my comments. (awkward blogging about yourself) In particular do you see any issue with tying a notification requirement to this funding?
Jim O’Keefe, Director of Community Development says he doesn’t. He says the point of the extra funding is to avoid situations where people are being turned away in severe weather and I wouldn’t see that there would be a problem with that requirement, having said that, I think that there are circumstances that arise that go beyond space availability that might influence specific decisions regarding specific individuals and specific behaviors so he wants to point out that there may be other issues than space or staffing and I wouldn’t mean to suggest that the notification or that funding will resolve any or all of those other problems.
Rhodes-Conway also asks him to address the question about the source of funding, and that is why her name isn’t on this.
O’Keefe says the hope of the proposal was to address a near term problem in a way that was least disruptive in terms of budget impact. They did this working with their friends in county government so it isn’t as tho this resolution withdrawing funds happens without the knowledge of the county colleagues, I think that and the expectation that the day center is not anticipated to open til November were both factors that led him to believe that this would be a relatively undisruptive approach to the near term problem.
Rhodes-Conway asks if he is working on the assumption that this item would be renewed in the 2014 budget?
He says the resolution was meant for one time funding.
Rhodes-Conway says not this funding, but the daytime center. That it will be in the Mayor’s budget for 2014, or the Council’s budget, as the case may be.
O’Keefe says he is not making any assumptions about that, but this particular funding is one time, so to the extent that provision is part of a base budget, it could be available.
Larry Palm says he understands that taking the money out of that is the least disruptive now, but what happens if it can open in October would you support at that time money from the contingent reserve or are there other funds you can access. I agree that I don’t know what is going to happen 6 months from now so its good to help people now, but that is a legitimate concern.
O’Keefe says the operating presumption is that the $25,000 available in 2013 would probably be more than is required if a county shelter was to open in November, there is also no certainty that these funds will be required. We had a combination of an immediate need and a funding source that appeared to be not needed, perhaps in its entirety and it seemed to be a good match.
Shiva Bidar-Sielaff says that she wants to make an amendment that “The policy regarding the cold weather exception be clearly posted at the entrance” or “entrances” – at all shelters. Motion seconded. Bidar-Sielaff doesn’t have a comment on that, but would urge colleagues to support the funding source that they are using currently for this proposal, I realize it does come with a budget amendment, but contingency funds should be used when there are no other sources of funding and not just a pot that we should stick our hands into whenever we don’t have anywhere else to take money from. If the need does arise and we are convinced that it does necessitate further funding in November, at that time we could go to the contingency fund. But she does think from a policy perspective, she urges them to use money that is in a general sense allocated to this issue right now and then use the contingency fund if the need presents itself in November. She would also like to point out that they have been doing a lot of amendment drawing form the contingency fund, including several items on tonights agenda, so lets just be really aware of the contingency fund reserve.
No discussion on the main motion. Motion passes.
I got the rules from staff on February 18th, 2013. No mention of any exceptions – only additional. The website currently says the following, but it is not what the posted rules say:
Summer: April 1st-October 31st: 7:30 pm to 7:30 am. Intake is from 7:30-10:30 pm.
Winter: November 1st-March 31st: 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Intake is from 5:00-8:30 p.m.
Anyone needing to enter the shelter after intake has ended must receive prior approval by calling shelter staff at (608) 255-2960 before 9 p.m. on the day of late entry.
There is a 60 night limit for Drop-In Shelter use per person, per year. An extreme weather exemption will go into effect for nights that are 20 degrees or less, with wind chill or for other extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms.
For the safety of our staff and shelter guests, anyone who is clearly under the influence of alcohol or other drugs will not be allowed into the shelter; exceptions are made during extreme weather conditions mentioned above.
All guests are expected to abide by the Drop-In Shelter House Rules. These rules are posted in the shelter and are available in print form at request. Failure to abide by the rules can be the basis for denial of shelter use on a temporary or permanent basis.
Here’s the posted rules, note several contradictions for simple things like hours or omissions of policies. It’s just maddening because the rules just seem to be whatever they make up on a particular day.
Updated May 2011
DROP-IN SHELTER HOUSE RULES
TO PROVIDE A SAFE AND SECURE SHELTER ENVIRONMENT FOR ALL GUESTS,
VOLUNTEERS AND STAFF, THE FOLLOWING RULES WILL BE ENFORCED:
1. The Drop-In Shelter is an emergency shelter. It is temporary overnight lodging with no cost to guests. TEMPORARY means not exceeding 60 nights per year of shelter. The year runs from November 1 to October 31.
2. The shelter has different schedules for summer and winter. In the summer, the shelter opens at 7:30pm and closes at 8:00am. In the winter, the shelter opens at 5:00pm and closes at 8:00am. Guests can not line up at the DIS#1 entry until 15 minutes prior to opening. No guest will be admitted after 11:00 p.m. without prior approval by the Night Manager. Anyone who leaves the shelter will not be readmitted that night.
3. Behavior on the grounds must be the same as in the shelter. Any activities observed by staff that breaks a shelter rule will receive a shelter penalty. If police are involved, their
observations will be considered staff observations.
4. Guests will not be admitted if incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. Staff assessment of
incapacitation is final.
5. Drugs or alcohol are not permitted in the shelter or on the grounds.
6. Weapons of any sort, as interpreted by staff, are not allowed.
7. Stealing of shelter property will result in prosecution and permanent ban. Stealing of a
guest’s property will result in permanent ban.
8. Fighting, swearing, threatening or harassing other guests or volunteers is not permitted. Staff will require the unruly guest to leave.
9. Guests threatening bodily harm to staff, volunteers, or other guests will be banned from all Porchlight programs, including Hospitality House and the DIGS program.
10. Guests must be fully clothed in public areas. No sexual contact-physical, verbal or visual-is allowed.
11. Food will be served from 8:00pm until 10:00pm and from 6:00am until 7:00am. Breakfast will be open to the public at 6:00am. It is to be eaten in the lounge areas only.
12. Lounges will close at 11:00pm each night.
13. NO SMOKING ALLOWED IN ANY OF THE SHELTER FACILITIES. Smoking is only
allowed during smoke breaks at designated areas outside the building. Staff will determine
the timing and frequency of smoke breaks. No smoke breaks will be held after 10:00pm.
14. Guests assigned to Shelter 2 or 3 must remain at Shelter 1 until the Night Manager of those shelters approve departure.
15. The Hospitality House, 1490 Martin Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53713 may be used as a mailing address as long as you are a guest at the shelter or Hospitality House. NO MAIL
ADDRESSED TO 116 WEST WASHINGTON WILL BE DELIVERED TO ANY GUEST.
16. Small storage lockers are available for guests to store personal belongings overnight while at the shelter. Guests must provide their own locks. All items and locks must be removed when the shelter closes in the morning. For any items that remain after the shelter closes, THE LOCKS WILL BE CUT AND THE CONTENTS OF THE LOCKER PUT IN THE TRASH IMMEDIATELY UPON DISCOVERY.
17. Guests vandalizing any Porchlight property will be permanently banned from all Porchlight programs. Reconsideration of the ban may occur after full restitution is made and counseling for anger and aggression is completed.
18. Guests may make local phone calls of 2 minutes or less with approval of the night manager. No long distance. Misuse of this privilege will result in denial of use of the phone.
19. Shower facilities and laundry machines are available for guests. Soap, shampoo, and towels are available. Some clothing may be available. Please schedule a time to use the laundry machines with the Night Manager. The laundry room closes at 11:00pm each night.
20. Staff may require guests to shower in cases where hygiene and body odor are unusually dirty or offensive. Staff retains sole discretion to require showering and/or laundry use in these cases.
21. Medical students and a physician are available on Tuesdays for check-ups and treatment of some minor medical problems. Serious medical problems can not be treated here, but the physician may advise guests where to go for treatment. Signs will be posted when doctors are available.
22. Guests who misuse the shelter will be denied entry. “Misuse” is defined as: a) eating and leaving, b) using the name of another guest to register/ using a false name, c) any other falsifications to defraud or mislead.
23. We need your help to maintain a clean and comfortable shelter. Please pick up any trash and deposit it in the trash bins. This includes the grounds area. Cigarette butts are to be put in the butt cans provided. Staff may require that the grounds be cleaned up before opening the shelter.
24. Guests who do not comply with the rules will be asked to leave. Repeated violations will
result in permanent denial of entry.
25. New guests to shelter or guests who have not used shelter in some time will be asked to provide information at intake through a standard intake form. Responses to the intake questionnaire will not be used as a reason for denial of shelter.
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