Saturday, February 11, 2012

UGM Advisory Committee Minutes from January 24th

The Lake City Winter Shelter run by Union Gospel Mission is scheduled to vacate the old 39 on March 31st. The Lake City TaskForce on Homelessness ( run by Jonathan and Melanie Neufeld who are visitors to our community from Canada on a religious work visa ) is advocating for the city to keep the shelter open after the agreed upon end date. Other members of the Lake City Taskforce on Homelessness belong to a variety of non profit organizations and churches from throughout the region, some members of the Mennonite church, and some residents of the area. They have a very dedicated and active group of people who are well networked and are speaking to the city as representatives of the Lake City area.  

This advocacy group is a sub committee of the Lake City Development Council. The Lake City Development Council is a committee of the Lake City Chamber of Commerce. The Lake City Development Council was formed a few years back by Joe Simmons (Simmons Construction on 125th @ 32nd) , Rion Berg (Foot and Ankle Center on 125th at the Lorig Building ), Pete Lukevitch ( Attorney - Lake City Consulting ), and Dave Howry ( Branch Manager at Union Bank on 30th and 125th). The intent was to get a special district designation in place to assess a tax within the district and use the funds to clean up the image of the Lake City business district so that businesses would locate here and people would shop here. It is known as a Business Improvement Area. They have been unsuccessful with getting the BIA in place. 

The sub committee of the Development Council ( the Lake City TaskForce on Homelessness run by the Mennonites ) is specifically interested in bringing in more non profit services for the homeless population. In addition to their work with UGM on getting the shelter open, they are also working with Community Psychiatric Clinic to put in a 21 unit apartment on 33rd  to serve homeless vets with dual diagnosis ( drug addiction and mental health issues ) and have been advocating for creating a park area for those with Chronic Public Inebriety to spend their day drinking.  

The original intent of the Development Council to increase economic development through the use of a BIA seems to have been lost. Although the BIA did not get the full support of the business owners in the area, the end it was to achieve is still one that many people in the community are supportive of. 

Many people in the area are also supportive of the human services that are here as well. The desire for a healthy and vibrant business district  and services for those in need are not mutually exclusive. The question on the minds of many stakeholders in this community has more to do with where the balance point is. 

There has been a lot of good work done creating a framework of services in Lake City for those less fortunate. Some of the "Service Resistant" individuals though are having a negative impact on our community that should be addressed before adding any more services (  in my opinion ). It is important to keep in mind that due to easy mobility, the demand will always outstrip the supply of services. Claiming a local human services need does not justify an ever increasing level of local services at the expense of all other aspects of a healthy community. 

Lake City UGM Shelter Advisory Committee
Meeting Minutes
  1. Call to order
Terry Pallas called to order the regular meeting of the Lake City Shelter Advisory Committee at 4:04pm on 1/24/2012 in the Lake City Community Center Meeting Room.
  1. Roll call
The following persons were present: 
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Paul LaRose
  • Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission – Terry C. Pallas 
  • Lake City Community Council – Cheryl Klinker 
  • Lake City Development Council – Joe Simmons
  • Cedar Park Senior Housing Authority Group (SHAG) – Elena Earle
  • 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
  • 7 UGM Shelter guests: Amber, Monty, Carl, Carol, Antonio, John, Sherri
The following persons were absent: 
  • At Large Business Member – Suzy Smith
  1. Approval of minutes from last meeting
Chuck Dickey motioned to approve minutes, Annie Stocker seconded. Minutes from 1/10/12 were approved.
  1. SUGM Statistical Report
    • 189 registered guests to date 
    • Meals served from Jan. 10th- Jan. 22nd is 1,928 (148 meals a day average)
    • Bed nights from Jan. 10th- Jan. 22nd  is 772 (49 men average, 11 women average) 
    • No new sign-ups for recovery program (2 to date)
    • UGM Rep. Paul shared a quote from Michelle, a LCShelter guest: “I am 4 ½ months pregnant and have nowhere to go. I had an apartment lined up in Seattle, but the land lord rented it out from under me. I was able to stay with a family member, but that situation was not healthy for me and my baby. I came to the Lake City Shelter because it provides a safe place for me until I find more permanent housing. I am waiting to get into Hope Place or another facility to provide a safe place for me and my baby.”
    • UGM Rep. Paul shared an email from Bob Kerslake of Washington Oregon Claim Service, “I own the office building next to the Mission. I want you to know that so far, all has gone very well. The Mission has been a good neighbor.  I think someone from the Mission just shoveled or sidewalk!” (UGM Rep Paul noted that several LCShelter guests did shovel sidewalks as well as several driveways during the week of 1/16/12.)
  1. Open Issues:
  1. Dispersing LCShelter contact info - No progress reported.
  2. Mennonite/LCTF safety patrol - Melanie conducted one walk. Reported meeting with person from Jamtown, expressed no concerns about loitering. Noted she picked up 20 beverage cans near Chevron and that may be an area to focus on for litter pick-ups.
  3. No litter pick-ups due to inclement weather.
  4. Committee Member Annie reported seeing 12-14 persons involved in fist-fights/inebriated behavior next to Chevron on 1/23/12. Reported seeing police involvement.  LCShelter Guest Carl verified incident. Noted some were locals, some were not, identified two particular shelter guests. Expressed theory that newcomers less likely to police themselves than “local” homeless. UGM Rep Terry indicated UGM will follow-up with involved LCShelter guests to discuss with them what it means to be part of a community.
  5. SHAG Rep Elena reported 3 individuals drinking in front of Cedar Park building. A SHAG resident asked them to move elsewhere, was met with aggression and offensive language.  Elena reiterated request that LCShelter guests not loiter in front of the Cedar Park building, noted it is usually the same people.  UGM Rep Terry asked if SHAG residents feel comfortable reporting this behavior directly to LCShelter. Elena said no, residents are fearful of going past them, unlikely to call.
  6. LC Development Council Rep Joe asked how many people are barred from LCShelter at night. UGM Rep Paul responded that it varies by night. Explained process of evaluating shelter guests and redirecting them elsewhere if they are deemed unsafe to reside in LCShelter. Joe asked how often that happens, noted he’s still seeing people sleeping in doorways. Paul said 6 people currently barred due to substance abuse or threats of violence.
Discussion ensued, re: What is purpose of LCShelter?  LCShelter Guest Carol asked what the purpose of the shelter is if a homeless person can’t sleep there when drunk. Addressed UGM Rep Paul and expressed opinion that giving people a breathalyzer test and barring them from LCShelter is not providing services.
  • UGM Rep Terry stated LCShelter is a place to provide services, rules and safety. Noted LCShelter guests are welcome to use UGM services, as long as they exhibit safe behavior; long-term goal is addiction recovery programs.
  • LCShelter Guest John noted that guests who come to LCShelter drunk are often the people who cause problems. Cited example of drunk shelter guest who swung at staff member. 
  • LCShelter Guests expressed varying opinions. Some believe barring from the LCShelter causes more problems, does not equate to “providing services”. Some feel LCShelter management is too lenient, others expressed frustration with influx of homeless coming to LCShelter then getting barred and creating negative effect on surrounding community.
  • UGM Rep Paul noted that when he bars someone who is too unsafe to be in the shelter, he always offers them a bus ticket.
  • UGM Rep Terry reiterated UGM’s policy of redemption and forgiveness; UGM does not bar guests indefinitely. 
  • LCShelter Guest Antonio asked what is accountability for guests who are repeatedly barred and readmitted. Asked what happens if someone gets hurt.
  • LCShelter Guest Carl requested better “policing” of LCShelter, noted that barred guests do not use bus tickets, instead “wreak havoc on community.”
  • UGM Rep Paul, said he talked with police, reported they are seeing no negative effect in Lake City. Asked police to document this in email, but they have not. (*Committee Member Janet noted that all quotes from Seattle Police provided at Advisory Committee meetings have been secondhand/undocumented.)
  1. Next step/prep for LCShelter closing. UGM Rep Terry noted that UGM’s downtown Mens’ shelter is looking to expand its capacity. Indicated they can reserve up to 20 beds to accept LCShelter guests for a 1 year commitment to stay, with recovery programming, service referrals, etc.  Noted Hope Place is also trying to expand to reserve space for women currently at LCShelter.
Discussion ensued, re: Services at LCShelter.  LCShelter Guest Carol asked why UGM doesn’t provide services at LCShelter.
  • UGM Rep Terry stated there are referral services available, noted limitations of UGM’s contract with City of Seattle as a temporary shelter.
  • LCShelter Guest Carl expressed frustration over lack of services, displacement of persons not local to Lake City.  (*Carl exited meeting)
  • Committee Member Janet asked if UGM has ever surveyed LCShelter guests to see what kind of shelter is wanted.  Noted differences of opinion shared by LCShelter guests in attendance: some want “wet” shelter, some want “dry” shelter, each have differing definitions of what “services” are wanted.
  • SHAG Rep Elena asked how many LCShelter guests take advantage of services (what percent of guests who currently have addiction problems).  Discussion ensued; no specific numbers were provided.
  • LCShelter Guest Sherri noted majority of addiction problems at LCShelter are with alcohol, expressed appreciation for “clean” environment at LCShelter. Noted differing opinions among LCShelter guests regarding UGM Rep Paul’s leniency in accepting/barring LCShelter guests.
  • LCShelter Guest John expressed displeasure with LCShelter guests disregarding others, cited example of guest who brought alcohol into shelter hidden in jacket.
  • UGM Rep Terry addressed LCShelter guests in attendance to explain what UGM’s recovery program entails.
  1. Survey. Committee Member Janet presented survey overview (see attached), noted first step is to establish a clear goal and scope. Noted complexities in defining survey parameters, assuring impartiality, implementing thorough and meaningful data collection.
Discussion ensued, re: Survey.
  • UGM Rep Terry, Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie, and Committee Member Annie all expressed support for a survey to evaluate impact of LCShelter. Annie specifically requested businesses and residents be surveyed 
  • Committee Member Janet noted the City of Seattle’s lack of participation on Advisory Committee. Stated that without involvement from City the time/effort/cost of a survey would be pointless. Suggested Advisory Committee efforts would be better spent on communication, such as: LCShelter newsletter, getting LCShelter contact info out to businesses, etc.
  • UGM Rep Terry stated a survey would be useful to UGM as an organization to measure impact of LCShelter; would use information in planning future UGM facilities.
  • Committee Member Janet reiterated potential problems with a survey, (For example, how would churches be surveyed since numerically, they represent large populations of people who don’t necessarily live/work in Lake City neighborhood.) Expressed concern that those volunteering help with survey have biased agenda regarding survey results.
  • UGM Rep Terry noted frustrations of Lake City neighborhood not being involved in City’s decision regarding LCShelter, expressed opinion that a survey might be a way for LC to have a voice. 
  • Committee Member Chuck noted the City’s previous lack of communication with Lake City regarding implementation of LCShelter (and other community matters); survey unlikely to change this.
  • Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie, noted City Hall’s meeting in March to discuss/review extending winter shelters. (Nick Licata’s committee.)
  • Committee Member Joe noted that the LCShelter has only been open 2 months, that with such a short time-frame, most businesses and neighbors wouldn’t notice/be able to comment on changes.
Discussion ensued, re:Inside LCShelter versus outside LCShelter. 
  • Committee Member Elena noted that while some are using shelter, she sees the same people loitering and not utilizing shelter services. 
  • UGM Rep Terry stated again the parameters of working with people with addictive behaviors; that more time is needed for individuals to choose recovery over addiction.
  • Committee Member Janet reiterated need for communication vehicle between UGM and neighborhood.
  • UGM Reps Paul & Terry stated UGM is working on a newsletter or Facebook page to help community stay informed. 
  • Committee Member Chuck suggested LCShelter guests could write newsletter themselves.
  1. Committee Member Chuck requested report from UGM at 2/7/12 meeting regarding any changes to LCShelter in relation to TentCity #3 leaving this week. UGM Rep Paul stated he could already report there would be no change. UGM Rep Terry noted differences in UGM philosophy and Tent City.
  2. Committee Member Chuck followed up with Mennonite/LCTF Rep Melanie regarding Niko’s community service hours.
  1. Action Items:
  1. (Annie) Will contact Suzy re: following-up on LCShelter contact info to local businesses.
  2. (All Committee Members) Will continue researching possible “adoption” resources for referrals as shelter closes. To be discussed at 2/7/12 meeting.
  3. (All Committee Members) Survey discussion tabled until 2/7/2012 meeting.
  1. Adjournment
Terry Pallas adjourned the meeting at 5:20pm. Next meeting 2/7/12.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This area is for your comments, elaboration, context and additional information. Speak your piece but please keep the discussion with your neighbors civil and on topic.