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Cover story about Homeless Shelter

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Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby johnny_psunami » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:28 pm

I was just wondering what people thought about the cover story from yesterday's Isthmus about Grace Episcopal Church's Homeless Shelter.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby rabble » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:23 pm

I've been a little busy and haven't read it yet, but I'm curious; what do you think about it?
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Bwis53 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:53 am

Sad article. It illustrates how these people have barely enough to stay alive. Is that living? Once they have sunk to that level, how do they get jobs and dignity? It never ceases to amaze me how people are just thrown away and there seems to be little "sanctity of life".
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Dairylander » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:21 am

Bwis53 wrote:It never ceases to amaze me how people are just thrown away and there seems to be little "sanctity of life".

Who is doing the "throwing away" here?
The people that give them free beds and free heat?
The groups that drive in the free food each day?
To the contrary, the thing that stuck in my head was one guest that came in to this warm shelter, used the free laundry and clean bathrooms, sat down to his free dinner and had the audacity to complain that his hot dogs were cold.
And regarding Jim Willis the manager, I have volunteered at the Salvation Army on East Wash., so I know that there has to be an element of cold military discipline in these places, or it will certainly turn to chaos.
The "Bleak House" title to this article was a spit in the face of this honorable charity.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Average Joe » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:45 am

I haven't yet read the article, but Porchlight and the shelter system do a good job in providing emergency shelter in Madison. It's extremely difficult to move the chronic homeless off the streets/shelters into a self sufficient or semi self-sufficient living situation. It's no big secret that for most chronic homeless people, the homelessness is but a symptom of a deeper condition such as mental illness and/or substance abuse. Porchlight does a good job of trying to address these underlying conditions but only so much can be done if you're dealing with individuals who are resistant to help for those issues, which is often the case. What needs to be done is more resources need to be allocated for longer term transitional treatment and housing. But with the state of budgets these days, that's not going to happen anytime soon.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:34 am

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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby gargantua » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:06 pm

I really thought the article tried to be fair, but even given that I thought it was pretty hard on the shelter providers. I mean, they are doing this voluntarily, right? Since the resources are finite, the other alternative is what, throw up your hands and say, well, this just isn't good enough so why should we even bother to try anymore?

The shelter providers should get credit for doing the best they can with the resources they have. Any blame for lack of resources rests elsewhere.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Peacetrain » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:28 pm

My main complaint is the writer basically throwing the manager under the bus based on comments made by a very small % of the clientele.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Kenneth Burns » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:31 pm

The rector of Grace Episcopal Church has been blogging about his reactions to the article:

http://gracerector.wordpress.com/
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby supaunknown » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:01 pm

I thought Bleak House was well written. I didn't think the writer threw Willis under any proverbial bus. He reported that there were complaints against him and let the guy respond. The article seemed to be balanced and informative. I appreciated the undercover method that Tarr used. He seemed to gather a wealth of knowledge, stuff that could only be learned by being there. Good job.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby snoqueen » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:40 pm

I too thought it was well written.

My overall impression is while some homeless people are annoying and apparently refuse to do anything for themselves, others just ran out of luck and don't want to be where they are whatsoever.

It seems like, in a winter climate like Madison's, we could at least provide bug-free, halfway-tolerable places for people in that situation to stay at night. Porchlight is probably doing what they can with the money they have, but it's bare-bones minimal. I understand there is a good reason not to provide such luxury people actively work to become homeless and take advantage of it, but that's not what I'm talking about. I wish we could do a little better.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby morningmama » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:31 am

This is an emergency shelter, not a B&B. The only problems cited by the writer that were observed, not hearsay, were having to wait in line, food that wasn't hot, and night staff using gruff voices. I am one of probably 1,000 volunteers who go there to serve meals. Teams of doctors and med students, and of attorneys and law students come on a scheduled basis. Together, this results in a high degree of monitoring and accountability. I think Jim Willis is spot-on in saying he doesn't treat grown men like kids; if you break the rules you must deal with the consequences. Standing in line at 3:30 is a CHOICE; men who arrive at 5:00 will still get in. Social workers are far better utilized at Hospitality House during the day, when they can contact resource agencies to assist those who need it. The man who is rating shelters (Chicago, Indianapolis, Madison) needs to direct his attention to getting a job and supporting himself. This isn't a public service, tax-funded entitlement; it is a non-profit organization with legions of volunteers doing the best they can with the available space and funds.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby Bwis53 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 3:51 pm

The conditions described are why I went into debt, to avoid being a homeless person.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby supaunknown » Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:12 pm

Thanks morningmama, for the gruff-voiced insight.
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Re: Cover story about Homeless Shelter

Postby wallrock » Tue Feb 16, 2010 6:20 pm

I do believe Joe Tarr is a very good writer overall and I agree that the article was thought-provoking. The article didn't really tug at my heartstrings though - my heart has never really bled at a Konkel-level for the homeless, and reading about one man complain about free food didn't do much to change that. The criticisms of that Godfrey activist rung awfully hollow to me as well. I mean, this isn't a City facility, nor is it taxpayer-supported, yet he wanted ordinances passed to make it harder for them to keep the place running (grievance systems and 24-hour shelters, etc.). If that guy wants to see a 24-hour shelter he should open one himself, not bitch about another non-profit trying to help. I doubt his compassion would last very long if he was trying to keep his own shelter in the black, scraping for donations and trying to keep costs down.

It's a good thing that articles like this one keep the subject in view. It's easy enough to donate to Porchlight and not think about it for the rest of the year, something I'm certainly guilty of.
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