Tuesday, July 3, 2007

A rumor of housing

I hear the city's homeless director, Gerry McCafferty, was hanging out in the parking lot of the Warming Place shelter last night, telling the guests going in for the night that there was plenty of shelter at Friends of the Homeless and the Springfield Rescue Mission. Gee, she could have gone inside. Whenever I've wanted to pass out flyers for Arise at the Warming Place, I've gone in and asked permission. A few times I forgot and just went in.

I hear if you want to stay at the Rescue Mission's Taylor St. shelter, you have to take a breathalyzer test, can't bring in food or a radio, and have to participate in evening prayer, preaching and discussion.

I hear a guy from Mental Health Associates went down to the Warming Place tonight and told people that if they could find apartments, the city would come up with first, last and security for rent, to forget about that "other program." Some folks were upset. "Wait, I was on that waiting list!" It all seemed very confusing to the homeless.

If this is true-- this idea of first, last and security-- its a good idea for all the wrong reasons and won't work without planning and support and won't work for everybody anyway. As things stand now, it's an act of desperation on the part of the city and Mayor-- anything they can come up with to empty the shelter before the Warming Place's hearing on its injunction Friday to keep from being evicted by the city.

To think that there were times when I actually had some faith in the goodwill of the city officials and business leaders that were going to make sure nobody went unsheltered after June 30. The last of that faith evaporated at the May 22 Emergency Shelter Committee meeting. "Well, the fix is really in," I remember saying. "You all know exactly how this is going to turn out."

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