Single women and family shelters at The Salvation Army.
I’m tired of being accused of all kinds of crap from my colleagues, so my blogs on this topic include the audio from the meeting and my briefer notes with the highlights. To review, I testified at this meeting, saying we needed a few things to happen. This is part 2 in a 4 part series – the next part is The Road Home and YWCA and the final part being Porchlight.
The sound leaves a bit to be desired, I really need to work on better recordings.
Leigha Weber is the person talking from the Salvation Army.
- They operate 3 shelters – the single women shelter, the family shelter and the warming shelter for families who can’t get into shelter.
- The family shelter has a 90 day limit per year, 180 days lifetime limit. That limit is set by the county. They have 18 rooms, the YWCA also takes families from them. They also have motel vouchers.
- The emergency family shelter is mats on the floor, they can accommodate 14 – 16 people but the regularly push that to 22 people. The also partner with DAIS to place families that are victims of domestic violence.
- They recently got money from city and county to extend the shelter on extremely cold nights so if it is 20 degrees or colder they will accept anybody, they won’t deny anyone. They made that work by lining cots down the hallway.
- The single women’s shelter is the only shelter for single ladies. Ladies can stay for up to 60 nights a year. It is converted gym space with cots. They have shower, can get dinner and a snack.
- Anyone who stays in the shelter has a case manager. They see them at least once a week.
Questions from the Committee
Most of the questions are from Chair Michael Basford, Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, with some questions from Uly Williams and Ronnie Barbett. I should have identified that as I made my notes, doh! Leigha Weber from the Salvation Army answers most of the questions.
- Are the limits in your contract? Yes. They are set by the county.
- What gets a person a suspension or ban from services and what recourses do they have? They don’t ban people. Some people get suspended until the new shelter year starts. That is longest they would suspended and it is only for the perpetual/habitual cases. Their shelter year starts when the person first comes in to the shelter so if they came in in November and it is March, they would be suspended til next November. They don’t have a list of how they respond, it depends upon the context, behavior and options to make it successful for the ladies.
- What would cause them to get suspended? Violence, threats to safety. If under the influence can stay if they can behave, they may be separated from the larger group.
- In the family shelter rules it says that they can be immediately banned for being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. She says that it says “may”.
- How many people are suspended? Two single ladies suspended til the next shelter year.
- How many people do you suspend each year? For any amount of time, they suspend some people for only three days? They say they only suspend a handful of people longer term. And its only about 1 every other week.
- Example, one Friday night they had a fight and they were each suspended for 3 days.
- Are they given anything in writing? They get a written warning form, they can review it with staff and sign it.
- So they get warnings before suspended? Verbal warnings, written warnings unless there is a physical fight, then immediately suspended.
- If immediately suspended, do they get a written explanation? Yes. It is tricky because when emotions are high they are not interested in getting a written warning. When they come back for services they have access to their files. If they express interest in writing they can get access to their file.
- What procedures do people have to go through to get services? Single women come to shelter at 5:00, they are welcome to eat dinner with us, if they suspect they will have a crowded night, they will revert to a lottery system, they instituted that because ladies were lining up earlier and earlier to get a spot, problems were occurring on the property so to eliminate that they went to a lottery system. There is a lottery and if they don’t get a spot they have a little extra time to find an alternative. They eat dinner, they check in at 6:30, if new to shelter they go through an intake with staff. They ask for id, verify that they are homeless and they have to be 18.
- How often have you used the lottery system? When its cold weather (20 degrees or less) they don’t do it, everyone can get in. The winter and summer are their peak periods, it could be a handful of times.
- What about the families? For emergency shelter, families call in between 11 and 12 and express need by leaving a voice mail message, name, family size and call back number. They call everyone back around noon to let them know if they got shelter. They make the decision based on several factors, if there is a new born, if they haven’t accessed shelter, or if they have been denied prior nights.
- What if someone doesn’t have a phone? They stop in or call back to the Salvation Army at a specific time.
- On cold nights you don’t turn anyone away, but you will turn them away if they are out of order? Yes
- Do you contact detox or mental health services for those that are out of control on a very cold night? Are you sure you are fair in your assessment of people who are mentally challenged? They manage the behavior of a lot of people, the only reason to turn them away is if they are a threat, or physical violence.
- Do you keep a list of people frequently thrown out? We don’t keep a list, we have a smaller population.
- Would you admit you need a larger building and more space? Yes.
- What about the Darbo space, are you looking at that? Yes.
- Do you do outreach to people? They ask about a particular person who sleeps outside, do you know of her? They don’t, they don’t do outreach, she may have gotten services, but she isn’t personally aware.
- Thanks for the rules and policies, can you put them on-line? Yes, it is a great suggestion, there is no reason not to.
- It would also be helpful to have the policies posted at the entrance, clear, no-nonsense. There was a lot of misunderstandings during the cold weather. They say they posted the cold weather exception. She is wondering what they want posted. Anything that will limit the ability to get in. She says that they greet them and explain their requirements. Heidi asks for a binder of something to eliminate misunderstandings.
- The number of single women have been consistent for years, how many are from Dane County? She says that the population is greater than most populations, the single ladies have mostly lived here a majority of their life. The survey distributed showed there is a variety of people who use services. Maybe one out of 10 are from outside Dane County. (Sorry, bad audio)
- How do you use service point to manage populations? We use it every day to document services and run reports for funding providers. It is work in progress, it doesn’t work perfectly. (Basford, the chair of the committee says “I’ll say” and there is laughter) She says it is not perfect for them, they are not perfect for it.
- Are you able to watch your outcomes from service point? It is possible, but it is challenging. As soon as we lose track of someone, we do our best to check in with them after 6 months, but it is a transient population, so having accurate phone numbers and following up is challenging.
- You keep files on everyone and they have grievances on file? You have a court like system? Yes, we review it with them and keep records.
- When they are disciplined, do they get a copy of the rules? They get it at the time they enter.
- What about at the point they might need it? If they ask for it, they get it.
- What percentage of your actions get grieved? Frequently. The people who appeal are about 2 people in the last year. The issues usually get resolved.
- Do people grieve the suspensions? Yes. How are they resolved? It depends. People are usually satisfied with the length of the suspension. Having that discussion usually helps and they have reversed decisions if excessive or upon further thought or review.
- What do people grieve and are changed? Suspensions that seem excessive. Sometimes a second set of eyes will reduce the amount of days.
- Are decisions based on hearsay? Unless they have a handful of women coming forward all saying the same thing, they really try, staff is inclined to have to be present or witness something. If two clients can’t resolve something, they ask them both to leave.
- Do all families go through Salvation Army – yes, they assess their family size and needs and make referrals to the YWCA – whenever a room opens that fits the family they get them in.
- They discuss their housing programs. Holly House is transitional housing for 8 ladies for up to 2 years. They pay $245 – 305. There is no public funding. The house was given and it is self funded. They ask where the women transition to – hopefully private housing, sometimes CDA, sometimes they increase their funding.
- They have three case management programs to help keep families in their homes.
- How do you deal with the transgendered population? They work with Outreach, there is not great solution. If they feel comfortable using shelter services, they are welcome. We provide services to their identified gender, we do not ask if they are biologically male or female. At the end of last year they had 4 or 5 people that did not feel comfortable using services and we put them in a hotel. They don’t have a written policy, but they haven’t denied anyone.
- If someone is suspended are they suspended from all programs, or just night shelter? A lot of ladies continue meeting with their case manager unless they threatened the safety of the case manager or integrity of the building, then no.
- How many showers do you have? For the ladies, they have 6. Families have 4 or 5 for women and the same for men.
- What about lockers? They struggle with that – they have a closet.
- Is it a space issue? We have outgrown our building by about 10 years, it is not serving us well.
- How long can they store their stuff there? Once a week they notify ladies that they are cleaning up and go through things. Unclaimed things will sit in the office for 3 days. They do their best to contact people.
CONCLUSION AND ASSESSMENT
Sounds good, when I testified, I listed the following things that needed to happen:
1. Third Party Complaint System
2. Policies Listed on the Website
3. Written Explanation if Banned
4. Written description of appeal process at time of ban
5. At some point a ban should be reviewed
6. Alternatives should be available for those banned
So, we accomplished one thing here, we have their written policies and they are willing to put their policies on their website, so that is a little progress. They do a written explanation of why banned, if the person asks, so a little progress is needed there. They don’t do permanent bans, so 5 doesn’t apply. We just need 3 to be automatic, 4 to happen and 6 is an issue in that people in the cold who are suspended or banned still need somewhere to go.
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