We will certainly have a need for shelter through the summer, and now that we know the Warming Place's contract with the state's Department of Transitional Assistance has been awarded to the Friends of the Homeless, which cannot take on the full numbers of homeless people that were at the Warming Place, looks like the winter is going to be a big problem, too.
Yes, yes, I know there are supposed to be 43 housing vouchers for the chronically homeless-- 13 in July and the remainder around September. But it should be obvious: YOU KEEP THE SAFETY NET IN PLACE UNTIL THE PROPOSED ALTERNATIVES BECOME REALITY. Anybody listening?
Houses of worship that want to become part of the solution but are worried about the legal ramifications have a pretty good leg to stand on-- the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000. A statement by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy when the bill was introduced is posted on the ACLU website. A legal defense of several key aspects of the law is posted at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
I know there was a church willing to let the Warming Place relocate there temporarily, but no contract means no staff-- how would such a program run?
Tent cities have run the gamut from extremely informal to highly structured. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about one tent city in Seattle:
Tent City 4 governance consists of an Advisor similar to an executive, and a rotating Executive Committee elected by the community in a one person, one vote structure. Tent City 4 has differentiated itself from other temporary encampments since 2004 due to its standard of requiring a signed "Code of Conduct" and performing warrant checks and sex offender checks on all potential residents. By signing the "Code of Conduct" the residents agree to abstain from drugs and alcohol while at the camp and share responsibility for site security and maintenance.Unity among homeless people hasn't manifested itself particularly in recent months-- everybody wants a voucher, or knows they won't get one; everyone has been in it for themselves. Can that change in the face of our current reality?