Thursday, January 26, 2012

LC Shelter - Meeting Minutes from 1/10/2012

A few things to note while reading this. The Mennonites ( acting as the Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness  and representing a number of other churches and non profit organizations in the area ) initiated UGM coming to Lake City through a  a letter sent to the Mayor on April 12th, 2011 requesting that the Fire Station 39 be kept open after Nickelsville vacated the building. They claimed the Nickelsville tenure proved to the local community that "when people are provided with shelter, they become very good neighbors" and that a there was an ongoing need to provide shelter for "people who are homeless in our neighborhood." 

Many of the long term homeless in Lake City have not been using the shelter ( as indicated in the minutes ), but the numbers show there are people staying there. Recent meetings have revealed that UGM is accepting referrals from the police, Harborview, and Northwest Hospital. This goes against the original statement ( from UGM Mike Johnson ) that they would only be serving the local homeless population. 
Mike Johnson of UGM also stated that anyone intoxicated would be turned away and that anyone with substance abuse issues would be referred to the downtown facility. This set of minutes documents one guest who they admit giving shelter to while he is intoxicated. 
UGM notes that the biggest homeless substance abuse issue in this area is alcohol. 
There have been discussions about at what point these services start having a negative impact on our community. The organizations provide services that attract people who are in need, but are not responsible for their public behavior. This presents a problem for a community that prides itself on showing compassion for those less fortunate and at the same time struggles to create a safe and healthy place to work, recreate, shop, and raise a family. 
( To be fair, there are other "goods and services" provided in this community that detract from our goal too - some that have a direct link to the nuisance behaviors that make reaching our goal so challenging. )

Lake City UGM Shelter Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
  1. Call to order
Paul LaRose called to order the regular meeting of the Lake City Shelter Advisory Committee at 4:04pm on 1/10/2012 in the Lake City Community Center Meeting Room.
  1. Roll call
The following persons were present: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Paul LaRose
  • At Large Business Member – Suzy Smith
  • At Large Resident Member – Janet Arkills
  • At Large Resident Member – Chuck Dickey
  • Mennonite/Lake City Task Force on Homelessness (LCTF) – Melanie Neufeld
  • At Large Business Member and Resident – Annie Stocker
The following persons were absent: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Terry C. Pallas 
  • Cedar Park – Elena Earle
  • Lake City Development Council – Joe Simmons
  • North Council – Cheryl Klinker 
  • UGM Shelter guest - (not yet determined)
  1. Approval of minutes from last meeting
Suzy Smith motioned to approve minutes, Annie Stocker seconded. Minutes from 1/3/12 were approved.
  1. SUGM Statistical Report
UGM Representative Paul asked if participation by a UGM guest on Advisory Committee is still desired. Several Committee Members indicated yes, requested guest have established history in Lake City. Various options discussed; difficulty expressed in finding LCShelter guests high-functioning enough to participate effectively and/or that have established history in Lake City.
    • 163 registered guests to date 
    • Meals served from Jan. 1st- Jan. 9th  is 1,152 (128 meals a day average)
    • Bed nights from Jan. 1st- Jan. 9th  is 487 (44 men average, 9 women average) 
    • No new sign-ups for recovery program (2 to date)
    • UGM Rep. Paul reported: Steve & Sheri were staying at LCShelter for a couple weeks. Steve found a job and was able to find an apartment, but was short $175 on first, last and security deposit. Paul referred Steve and Sheri to the Mennonite Church for financial help. Mennonite church donated money and Steve & Sheri are now in an apartment.
  1. Community Check-In
Committee Member Suzy reported:
  1. Met with two LC police officers, both report seeing a lot of brand new faces in Lake City, particularly more homeless with mental/substance abuse issues. Indicated “usual” Lake City homeless not taking advantage of LCShelter.
Committee Member Annie questioned Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie, re: Given knowledge of “local” homeless, what percentage of them are utilizing LCShelter?  Discussion followed in which no two Advisory Committee members agreed. Estimates ranged from 10% - 60%. (Discussed use of LCShelter ranged from overnight stays to food/clothing services.)
Discussion ensued, re: Is increase in loitering in business areas due to new people coming in for shelter services? Various opinions expressed, including:
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie believes it is only local Lake City homeless.
  • Committee Member Suzy suggested speaking with LC police, said police identified new group of very aggressive young people. Requested documentation of increase in homeless arriving in Lake City, noted they were not coming from Tent City #3 as expected, but coming to LC via referrals. 
  • UGM Rep Paul verified LCShelter is receiving guests referred by Seattle Police, Harborview, Northwest Hospital, and many from word of mouth.
Discussion ensued, re: Why would Harborview refer homeless to Lake City, particularly lacking transportation?  Key points included:
  • UGM Rep Paul stated he did not know. Upon receipt of phone referrals from Harborview or other organizations, he states that referred person is welcome, as long as referred person is not a sex offender, has state-issued I.D., and can transport him/herself to LCShelter.
  • Committee Member Janet noted both Seattle City officials and UGM Rep Mike Johnson promised LCShelter would address homeless issues within Lake City and would not bring homeless to LC from other areas. Asked how hospitals know to refer homeless to LCShelter?
  • UGM Rep Paul guaranteed that UGM has not solicited referrals.
  • Did LC TaskForce on Homelessness solicit referrals? 
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie stated several members of Mennonite congregation are nurses and may be spreading the word. (*Follow-up email noted one Mennonite church member working at Harborview’s Mental Health Center may account for some referrals from Harborview.)
Discussion ensued, re: Why are homeless at Harborview not being referred downtown? Are the city, the churches, and UGM spending money to transport homeless?
  • UGM Rep Paul said no; noted UGM gives bus tickets to LCShelter guests who have appointments, medical needs, or are working.  Guests also receive a free bus ticket as reward for participating in litter pick-ups. 
  • Committee Member Chuck requested Paul find out re: transportation, why Harborview is referring to LCShelter. Several committee members agreed - would like more info. 
  • Paul noted LCShelter has sent some guests to Harborview. Ex: Had one extremely disturbed guest threatening suicide, harm to others. LCShelter called police, guest was taken to Harborview. Noted that LCShelter is a temporary shelter, not equipped to treat people. Guests are welcome if able to function in a community environment. If unable to function in community, LCShelter staff try to redirect guests elsewhere.
Discussion ensued, re:  Does the Mennonite Church and LC Task Force on Homelessness recognize negative impact on Lake City core? Will future referrals stop? Various opinions expressed, including:
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie asked if the impact has been negative.
  • Committee Member Suzy, expressed appreciation for UGM’s responsiveness. Stated that LCShelter has not helped LC business core, image, or reputation. Expressed concern regarding future development.
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie suggested LC’s image can be seen as being compassionate.
  • Committee Member Suzy noted Lake City is at tipping point, reiterated concern over future development.
  • Committee Member Janet shared example of Maple Leaf resident overwhelmed by loiterers while patronizing Papa Murphy’s. Maple Leaf resident asked Janet what’s going on in Lake City that loitering has gotten so bad?
  • Janet suggested conducting survey as way to measure impact of LCShelter.  Proposed theory that some local LC homeless have been helped, but LCShelter has also brought in new groups causing new problems.  Noted that Lake City has swapped out part of an old problem for a new set of problems.
  • UGM Rep Paul agreed that was valid impression. Noted he is working to keep LCShelter a Lake City facility, but indicated conflict with UGM’s policy. SUGM’s policy is to not turn anyone away.
Committee Member Chuck reported:
  1. Disturbances of one homeless woman, Cindy (screaming, vulgar language, other behavior) in front of Post Office. 
Discussion ensued, re: Cindy:
  • UGM Rep Paul said Cindy doesn’t stay at LCshelter often, because UGM redirects her behavior. Discussed mental issues versus lack of coping skills, noted need to call police to report aggressive behavior.
  1. Chuck noted harassment of pedestrian by Cindy.
Discussion ensued, re: Why does City continue to put service-resistant individuals in heart of business and residential areas?
  • UGM Rep Paul responded: Lake City is a convenient place, with post office, foodbank, etc.; it is a natural attraction to homeless. Noted concentration of services, including: Labor Ready, Thrive project, McDermott place, North Helpline, RotoCare. Stated that LCShelter is additional attraction, but other services already in Lake City are a draw for homeless.
  • Committee Member Annie noted several businesses including: gun shop, strip club, used car sales, pawn shop, and marijuana dispensaries that attract “edgy” behavior, low-income housing, and developers disinterested in positive community influence.
Discussion ensued, re: History and image of Lake City. Key points included:
  • Improvements in LC image over last 10-15 years. Focus on recruitment of businesses with positive impact.
  • Rick’s Strip Club involvement in Lake City Chamber of Commerce and associated negative perceptions (prior to Rick’s closure and reopening).
  • Tolerance and compassion for homeless and disadvantaged versus acceptance of illegal/nuisance behaviors. Expectations that all community members should be law-abiding citizens. Frustrations over livelihoods of many being affected by actions of a few.
  • Referenced article on positive influence of gentrification on low-income/homeless populations.
UGM Rep Paul noted goal of redirecting LCShelter guests. If guests don’t follow law, they can’t stay. Noted guests with violent behavior are barred from shelter, but will return in tears the next day, allowing for redemptive conversation.  Guaranteed he will do his best to not leave a bigger problem when LCShelter closes.
Committee Member Janet reported:
  1. Douglas Park Cooperative reported finding 4 broken needles with exposed sharps lying in road in front of Seattle Gymnastics Academy 1/5/12, human feces and used toilet paper the week before. 
Group noted area issues - dead end street, lack of residential “eyes”, John Sweeney, owner of Gymnastics Academy, grafitti. Committee Member Suzy will contact police to ask for more enforcement of that area. Group discussed focusing future litter pick-ups on that area.
  1. Cedar Park neighborhood group began neighborhood walks on 1/9/12. Cedar Park rep concerned about repeated incidents of pedestrians (drunk?) darting/jaywalking Lake City Way, noted 4-5 near-miss collisions.
Discussion ensued, re: Lake City neighborhood compared to other Seattle neighborhoods. Key points included:
  • Opposing viewpoints - some see improvements, some see worsening. 
  • Necessity of zoning, community involvement, and enforcement to precipitate change.
  • Comparison to Ballard, Fremont, Capitol Hill. UGM Rep Paul noted alcohol abuse is biggest problem he’s seen in Lake City. (Some heroin users, but mostly alcohol).
Discussion ensued, re: Potential increase in guests at LCShelter due to snowy weather. 
  • UGM Rep Paul noted increase unlikely, as rain has same effect as snow. Anticipates more people staying inside LCShelter during day.
  1. Open Issues:
  1. Dispersing LCShelter contact info - Suzy has contacted LC Chamber, not heard back. Will contact again.
  2. Mennonite/LCTF safety patrol - Melanie walked on 1/6/12, said she did not see anyone, noted no problems anywhere. 
    1. Several Committee Members noted new loitering/problem spots: parking lot on backside of Lake City Smiles offices, Lake City Grill (behind RadioShack) by Jamtown.
    2. Chevron (sells alcohol by the case, steady run of people between gas station and McDermott Place noted). (Previous issues at Fred Meyer.)
  3. Litter pick-up on Thursday, 1/5/12.  Ten LCShelter guests participated, collected 15 bags of trash. Jonathon Neufeld will lead litter pick-up on 1/12/12.
  4. LC Shelter Guest incentives: Committee Member Suzy donated $200 (from LC businesses) in form of $5 Dicks and Subway gift cards.  Committee Member Chuck requested cards be given to guests who work hard on litter pick-up. UGM Rep Paul indicated that’s how cards will be used. 
  5. LC Taskforce will discuss networking/referrals to help homeless as LCShelter closes at 1/13/12  LC Task Force meeting.
  6. Loitering issues: LC police reported same places (by Sportshaus Schmetzer, etc.) Police will try to encourage loiterers to move on. Some loiterers respond negatively.
Discussion ensued re: Niko, loitering.
  • Niko tells police officers to “f- off” because he has right to be on public property. 
  • No progress on his paperwork to Fiji. Update pending from Jonathon Neufeld.
  • UGM Rep Paul addressed Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie, noted that Niko has not completed his community service at LCShelter. Discussed intoxication/low-functioning. Stays night at LCShelter often, as he does not cause problems when intoxicated.
  1. Action Items:
  1. (Suzy) Will contact Diane at Lake City Chamber again re: posting LCShelter contact info to local businesses.
  2. (Janet) Will pursue possibility of survey.
  3. (All Committee Members) Will continue researching possible “adoption” resources for referrals as shelter closes. To be discussed at 1/24/12 meeting.
  1. Adjournment
Paul LaRose adjourned the meeting at 5:11pm. Next meeting 1/24/12.  (Group agreed to meet every other week rather than weekly.)

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