I just toured the Porchlight Hospitality House that the county wants to buy and listened to some answers to some questions, and I’m completely disgusted! Not with Porchlight, but with what we find to be acceptable in our community when it comes to meeting the needs of homeless persons.
There is a lot to hate about the proposed day center at 1490 Martin St. Location, location, location being primary. Lack of adequate transportation secondary. And then a whole long list of other issues about why this won’t exactly work.
What has me really pissed off is that Porchlight, the agency that gets a check written to them every time someone says the word homeless, is in a facility that doesn’t meet their needs in the least bit. And now, they (county staff) want to shuffle this inadequate facility off to another agency. So it can be inadequate for them.
I don’t know where to start.
The half a wall that was black plastic bags? The leaking roof, the damp musty smell that made me wheeze and sneeze and cough (and still has my throat all itchy), the broken cupboards, humorous game of tetris we played to get our cars out of the parking lot, the sad coffee pot which I”ve never seen with coffee in it, tables without chairs, no computers, the stark unwelcoming institutional decor, etc. etc. etc. etc.
Alright, bubble gum and duct tape, its what nonprofits use to hold things together – apparently even the ones that get all the money. It’s sad. A tin building with a plastic roof . . .I guess that’s all the homeless deserve?
More disturbing than all that is the 99 person capacity limit. We all know that when the facility was downtown, they served 125 people per day (in a building with a 99 person capacity). Apparently, they are planning for people not to go there, or planning to violate the codes again. To me, its a huge safety hazard. And, to add to it, they aren’t going to have a sprinkler system. (You see, they don’t need one if there are only 99 people there.) They can’t have a sprinkler system because, well, its on a well, not city water and there isn’t enough capacity. (What happens if there is a fire, will there be enough capacity them?) To get water to the building and expand (after Porchlight moves out after a year) will cost them $30,000 or $40,000 just to get the pipe connected to city water. Then, they’ll have to remodel, again, to put in the safety equipment that should be there in the first place. I’m not sure how the water will hold up with showers and laundry and extra people using the building, apparently they are still in negotiations about that. (Not sure what is to negotiate, since the water capacity will be there or it won’t. Sure would be nice to know.)
The other issue that Sarah Gillmore was concerned about was working with the Town of Madison police who have said that they don’t have capacity to serve the facility. Great.
Maybe this is the plan . . . I won’t finish that thought . . . .
I’m am pretty disgusted. It’s clear to anyone who opens their eyes, that there are enough holes in this plan to ensure its failure. This is clearly not the right facility. Location, transportation and safety. Three strikes . . .
This is going to be the county jail all over again, put a band aid on it, do it half assed, a then spend more money to fix it later. Can we not repeat these stupid mistakes? Have we learned nothing?
Or do we just not care?
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