Increasing options for our neighbors without either heat or shelter

    A2misfits2On Saturday I posted something here about the plight of the homeless during this week’s polar vortex, which, as I understand it, has brought temperatures near levels not experienced in the region since the 1880s. My intention had been to share a comprehensive list of resources available to those in our community who were without either heat or shelter, however, after several hours spent making calls, leaving messages for people, and searching the web, I still didn’t feel as though I had a handle on it. Since then, however… partially, I suspect, due to increased pressure on the part of area homeless advocates, who announced plans to attend tonight’s Ann Arbor City Council meeting… folks in City government have pulled together all of the data I’d been looking for, in hopes of meeting the criticism head-on. The following, which appeared earlier today in a comment left by Dave Askins on the Ann Arbor Chronicle site, comes from an email sent this morning by Mary Jo Callan, Washtenaw County’s director of the Office of Economic and Community Development. As I understand it, it was addressed to City Administrator Steve Powers and others. [The links were added by me.] According to Askins, Callan will likely be at tonight’s meeting “to provide additional information.”

    Shelter Options

    All community shelters are open, including: the Delonis Center, IHN Alpha House, Salvation Army’s Staples Center, and Ozone House. Housing Access is also open, and able to connect those in need with shelter options. Thus far today, Housing Access has received thirty-six calls from residents in need of housing and/or shelter. This is described as an extremely low call volume for a Monday.

    In addition to the seventy-five people at its main site, twenty-five males in its rotating shelter, and sixty-five people in the overnight warming center, the Delonis Center has opened up during the day for those needing a warm place to be. They have loosened restrictions on substance use upon entry during this extreme weather. As of 1pm, they had eighty people utilizing their daytime warming center. They can accommodate up to 200, if needed. If someone arrives who is intoxicated to the point of being dangerous or severely disruptive to other guests, they are provided transportation to the Home of New Vision’s Engagement Center.

    Washtenaw County Community Support & Treatment Services (CSTS) – Project Outreach Team (PORT)

    CSTS and PORT started providing intensive outreach several days ago to prepare homeless and other vulnerable consumers for this weather emergency. They have teams out today, and will continue to outreach throughout today and tomorrow. They report that they have placed several homeless individuals who cannot go to the Delonis Center in hotels. They are also outreaching to all at-risk CSTS consumers to ensure they have needed medication and resources to get through the weather emergency.

    Warm Places

    The following nonprofits and institutions are open for those seeking warmth:

    Ann Arbor Locations -

    Delonis Center (312 W Huron St) 24 hours
    Ann Arbor City Hall (301 E Huron) until 5:00 PM
    All Ann Arbor District Library locations until 9:00 PM
    Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (on Industrial) until 5:00 PM
    Homeward Bound (3501 Stone School Road) until 5:00 PM
    University of Michigan Medical Center (1500 E Medical Center Drive) 24 hours
    IHN Alpha House (4290 Jackson Road) 24 hours

    Ypsilanti Locations -
    Department of Human Services (Towner St) until 5:00 PM
    SOS Community Services (114 N River Street) until 5:00 PM
    Hope Clinic (518 Harriet St) until 5:00 PM
    Engagement Center (512 N Hamilton – for intoxicated individuals; must have referral) 24 hours
    St. Joe’s Hospital (5301 McAuley Drive) 24 hours

    I’m happy to have a comprehensive list to be able to share… Please do what you can to make sure that people you might come in contact with, who are at risk, know where they can go.

    Furthermore, I’m encouraged to know that the Delonis Center has loosened restrictions on substance use, at least over the next day or two. That’s an incredibly positive move, and they should be commended for making it.

    And thank you to all of you who contributed this weekend to Mission A2. I’m told by Greg Pratt that, in addition to raising several hundred dollars for bus passes and cab fare, 82 canisters of propane, 15 packs of socks, 10 coats, 3 sleeping bags, 5 blankets, 2 union suits, 1 tent, and several boots, gloves and hats were donated.

    update: Just received word that Ann Arbor’s First Presbyterian Church will be opening its doors on Tuesday from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM as a warming shelter. “Coffee and Hot Water for tea will be provided so our neighbors can come in, get warm, and hang out in the Social Hall,” they say. “Volunteers will be at our Welcome Center just inside the 2nd floor doors to direct guests to the Social Hall, and volunteers will be in the Social Hall for games, conversation, and to keep the coffee and tea hot and ready!”

    update: Dave Askins is live-blogging the Ann Arbor City Council meeting. Here’s the pertinent part.

    7:17 p.m. Mary Jo Callan has been introduced… She says the Delonis Center has opened the daytime warming center. Twenty-five people were using the daytime warming center, she says. It has a capacity of 200. No one has been turned out into the cold up to this point, she says. The restriction on intoxication has been loosened, she notes.

    7:18 p.m. Known campsites were visited by PORT (the county’s project outreach team), she says, and soundness of tent structures were assessed. Various materials were distributed, she says. First Pres will be open tomorrow, among other facilities, she says.

    7:20 p.m. Callan is reading aloud a statement from St. Joe’s, which has space for 30 people. St. Joe’s is looking to coordinate with the county and city on this. The county’s community support and treatment services (CSTS) and Alpha House are coordinating to staff that facility, if a decision is made to use it. That decision will be made later tonight, she said.

    7:22 p.m. Hieftje is getting clarification from Callan on the situation with the daytime warming center at Delonis – a capacity of 200, with about 25 people making use of it.

    7:22 p.m. Eaton asks a question about how much money this is costing for all the organizations. He wants information about how much it is costing so that the city can understand what it might do to help.

    7:25 p.m. Responding to a question from Teall, Callan thanks the council for its recent support of affordable housing. She mentions the plan that the Ann Arbor housing commission has for Miller Manor to convert it to a front-desk staffed facility. She says the world has changed a lot since the 2007 needs assessment was done. So she’ll be providing fresh information soon about what the current needs actually are.

    7:26 p.m. Warpehoski says he’s glad that the Delonis Center has loosened the restriction on intoxication. He inquires about those people who have been prohibited from accessing the Delonis Center due to behavioral problems. Callan says that the 15 people that PORT has responded to were in that category.

    7:28 p.m. Kailaspathy says that the collection of organizations that have stepped forward seems ad hoc. She wants to know if it can be better publicized and systemetized. Yes, says Callan. There is a plan in place, but it could be better. In some cases, she said, staff for some facilities can’t get into work due to the snow.

    And I can’t agree with that last point enough. This shouldn’t all be coming together at the last minute. Plans should be in place for emergency situations, and a comprehensive list of warming facilities should be readily available. There should be a PDF with addresses and hours, as well as information about how one can obtain emergency transportation, that people can print out and carry in their pockets. Hopefully the next time something like this happens, we’re better prepared.

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      19 Comments

      1. Tim
        Posted January 6, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

        Scroll further down Dave’s transcript and you get to the good stuff.

        7:46 p.m. Sheri Wander lives on White Street, she says. She apologizes if her remarks come off as emotional. She’s spent the last several days delivering propane tanks to those who are living in tents. She says she was “in awe” of PORT today as they raced around to put some people in hotel rooms. She’s proud of what the city has done, but it shouldn’t be done at the last minute, she says. She hears over and over that we have the infrastructure and the capacity to take care of people. But she doesn’t think there’s enough sanctioned capacity to take care of people. “I know the city can do better,” she says. Wander wants the city to look at 721 N. Main, even though that facility isn’t perfect, she says. She quotes G.K. Chesterton: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”

        7:48 p.m. Greg Pratt thanks all the previous speakers by name. He also thanks Mary Jo Callan. He appreciates all the support. But he offers an alternative pledge of allegiance, and on the phrase “to the principle for which we stand,” the rest of the audience stands. The pledge calls for 45 F degrees as the threshold for opening the warming center.

        7:51 p.m. Odile Hugonot-Haber is reading aloud Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which includes the right to housing. She says that city officials seem to want to say that everything is just fine. The timer goes off. [That seems a bit abbreviated. Possibly the timer was set incorrectly.]

        7:52 p.m. Alan Haber thanks Odile for reading aloud from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ann Arbor should adopt warmth as a fundamental human right, he says. Warmth is not just temperature, he says. Statistics might show that everyone is taken care of, he says, but from what he’s heard and seen, that’s not so. The city needs a space that is managed by those who use it, he says. All of us should be more contributory. The homeless “them,” he says, are seen as a problem. But they have creativity and skills. He calls on the council to consider 721 N. Main as an option.

      2. Posted January 7, 2014 at 6:35 am | Permalink

        Thanks Tim.
        Here are my remarks to council:
        “Councilpersons: earlier this evening some of us pledged allegiance to a flag. I have an alternative pledge I would like to share with you:
        I pledge allegiance to the people
        of the city of Ann Arbor
        And to the principle for which we stand:
        Warming centers open at 45 degrees
        With spaces for people who blow .10 and above.”

        Thanks to Mark and everyone who came together when we needed it most. I am feeling the warmth. In the wake of the “Misfit Maynard Media Bubble” we have gathered countless coats, socks, gloves, hats, boots, $985 in donations, 82ea 16.4oz canisters of propane.

        I was out yesterday and handed out an additional 32 canisters to folks at an A2 camp site, we delivered water, warm things and such as well. I was also able to transport one of our friends to a warm spot where he has a job and can make some money.

        After the city council meeting last night, Tracy Williams, Ryan Sample and myself did one final check at the camp sites we know about in the immediate area. We found one person in a tent who had no heater but who did not want to go to a hotel room. We also stopped by First Baptist Church in Downtown A2 and spoke with a person trying to sleep outside there. Pastor Bob was on the scene too. We worked together talking with the man to try to find way to help him get to a warm spot. The Police came as well and helped us get the person into a hotel room for the night, Pastor Bob covered the expense. Thanks again everyone. This is not over. Onward!

      3. Posted January 7, 2014 at 7:51 am | Permalink

        Thank you again for everything you and your crew have been doing, Greg. It’s truly inspiring.

      4. anonymous
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        I don’t doubt that there’s a need for a group like MISSION A2, but I’d like to get a better sense as to where their mission ends and that of PORT begins. Can someone help me understand how the two are different and how they compliment one another?

      5. Lisa Dengiz
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Thank you, Mark for your compassionate heart and your ability to shine a bright light on the subject that has helped create more concrete services and supports for those in critical need of housing, shelter during this crisis.
        Lisa Dengiz

      6. Tim
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        It’s important that we take advantage of this opportunity to have a real conversation on the subject of homelessness and what we as a community are willing to do about addressing it in a substantive way. Once it warms up, people will forget about these people. The truth, however, is that they’re always in danger, and not just from the cold.

      7. francine alexander
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 11:17 am | Permalink

        I value deeply the positive thoughts, feelings and actions of many people to secure shelter for our neighbors…especially in the face of this bitter cold. I would ask that we not let our focus stay on immediate warmth via emergency shelter. Municipalities who have made a serious and positive difference on homelessness have done so through significant investment in permanent supportive housing: affordable housing combined with supportive services. This investment while high initially, is ultimately less expensive, more sustainable and more likely to allow our neighbors to have safe and dignified lives.

      8. Meta
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        From the Washington Post: “Extreme cold kills more people than leukemia, homicide and liver disease.”

        The bitter chill isn’t just an inconvenience. It could kill you. A 2007 study by Olivier Deschenes and Enrico Moretti found that “the number of annual deaths attributable to cold temperature is 27,940 or 1.3% of total deaths in the US.”

        Extreme cold turns out to be deadlier than extreme heat. Hot weather kills, but digging deep into the data, Deschenes and Moretti find that it mostly kills people who were already close to death. After the heat wave ends, the death rate drops so sharply that it totally offsets the weather-related spike. “The only effect of the weather shock is to change the timing of mortality, but not the number of deaths,” they write.

        Periods of extreme cold are also associated with an immediate spike in deaths. But unlike extreme heat, there’s no offsetting decline in expected mortality in the weeks following cold snaps. The result is that “the cumulative effect of 1 day of extreme cold temperature during a 30-day window is an increase in daily mortality by as much as 10%.” In total, the authors calculate, the cold is responsible for more annual deaths than “leukemia, homicide, and chronic liver disease.”

        This is particularly true in low-income communities. “The effect for counties in the bottom income decile is 66% larger than the effect for counties the top income decile.” One reason, of course, is that low-income communities have more people who lack adequate shelter.

        Read more:
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/01/07/extreme-cold-kills-more-people-than-leukemia-homicide-and-liver-disease/

      9. Eel
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        FWIW, this week marks the 50th anniversary of LBJ’s war on poverty.

      10. Posted January 7, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

        This is my best response right now to anonymous 10:22.
        I am here with local blue collar scholar, Paul Horvath and we are about to go snowblow the driveway at 3501 because we finally had our street plowed. I will be online later tonight after 10pm. offline until then.

        The best way to get involved is to come to one of our Sunday Meals. We have meals every Sunday at 6pm at 3501 Stone School Rd. [look for the Blue and White Circus Tent just south of the I-94 overpass on Stone School Rd. The food is provided by a rotating group of activists from local churches. The meals are immediately followed by a Camp Take Notice meeting. The group makes decisions about what resources to ask MISSION A2 for to support the campers out at the bridges and in the woods. The group also decides on actions for our organizing and community outreach tactics. People share information, share stories and leave usually sometime between 8-830pm.
        The meetings use the model employed at the tent city community we had out at Wagner Road and 6 other locations since 2008-09. CTN was founded by Seth Best and Caleb Poirier behind Arborland Mall. Notice this is right after the housing finance crisis created by Big Capital. But, I digress.
        If we are able to get the permission we need to establish a camp on the back three acres of our property [we are fully cognizant that this will take considerable time and is an uphill battle], the meal and meeting serve as the nexus of community-building and the creation of an autonomous space for people who are homeless or otherwise struggling to stay housed to take ownership over the conditions under which they exist.
        When the model is working well and people are working together we can get things accomplished like the Good Neighbor Amendment [This is the amendment for the A2 City Parks Ordinance that removes the fee for a permit to use City parks when distributing free humanitarian aid in the form of “food and goods.” We were able to change policy. Granted, it was pretty low-hanging fruit. I mean, who was actually going to vote against the removal of such a fee for such a purpose?
        Regardless, for folks who have spent a lot of time being told what to do, what hoops to jump through in order to get resources, this has been huge.
        Ryan, Seth, Tracy feel free to correct me if I am speaking out of order here, that is my read on the recent spurts or activism around the warming center policy, encampment outside city hall for 2-days.
        *****Oh yeah, and just an FWIW, The meals/meetings will begin again on Sunday Jan 12.***** All are welcome.

      11. JJ
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

        He needed a warm place.

        http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2014/01/u-m_police_looking_for_man_who.html

      12. Posted January 7, 2014 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        francine alexander:

        Please help me understand how discussion of our model and our movement precludes discussion of permanent [social service] supported affordable housing? Take Avalon Housing for example. This is a very successful and well-run program. Are you really trying to say that *the solution* is more for Avalon Housing, to the exclusion of everything else? Or were your comments intended to convey…? Thanks in advance for reading and any clarification you can provide. If you are experiencing any vitriol in the above comments/questions, it was not intentional.

      13. Mr. Y
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

        I think she was saying that we shouldn’t let the powers that be off the hook just because they’ve finally come out with a coordinated plan to save people from the polar vortex. We need to keep at them and push for year-round housing for our most vulnerable citizens. I didn’t take it at all as an affront to the mission of MA2, or the activities of activists these past several days.

      14. Meta
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Now a few days into the emergency, Governor Snyder just came out with a message to cold Michiganders.

        With the dangerous weather conditions facing Michigan this week, Governor Rick Snyder is highlighting the resources available for Michiganders, encouraging citizens to be safe, to call 211 if they need assistance, and to help others who are in need.

        “We encourage residents to stay inside to keep warm, but I know that’s not always possible,” Snyder said. “We recommend people take precautions, from bundling up to prevent hypothermia or frostbite to slowing down on icy roads, because we want Michiganders to safe.”

        As temperatures hover near 0 degrees and wind chills approach -25 degrees, state residents need to take precautions to remain safe and warm.

        People who don’t have a warm place or need other assistance in dealing with cold weather issues are asked to dial 211. The information hotline can offer directions to the nearest warming shelter and direct people to community resources that can help them if they face having their gas or electricity shut off.

        Snyder said the Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division continues to monitor the dangerous weather conditions and looks for ways to assist local communities in need. He also saluted the road crews, public safety officers, and those staffing shelters who are working to assist motorists and people in need during this difficult period.

        “We always appreciate their hard work, and these last few days have been especially challenging for them,” he said. “Many of these folks have worked long, difficult shifts as conditions worsened to keep our vital roadways clear and assist people in trouble.”

        Snyder said residents should remember to slow down in roads that might seem cleared by still have icy spots, especially on ramps and bridges.

        The Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division offered a series of tips to help people during these extended periods of extreme cold.

        People should stay indoors, if possible.
        When outdoors, watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness or exhaustion.
        Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.
        Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from the body more rapidly.

        Check on family, friends and neighbors who might be at risk and need additional help
        Don’t forget the pets. Animals also can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite
        Citizens who need assistance or guidance are encouraged to call 211. For more information about being prepared before, during and after an emergency or disaster, go to the MSP/EMHSD’s emergency preparedness website at http://www.michigan.gov/beprepared or Twitter page at http://www.twitter.com/MichEMHS.

        Read more:
        http://michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277–318990–,00.html

      15. Posted January 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Meta.
        Snyder is a tool of the finance capitalist system [let's call it Big Capital] which creates the vast inequalities and extreme poverty that our organization and others like PORT, Delonis etc. deal with on a daily basis.

        Unfortunately, and this is gonna hurt some feelings [oh well], so is the Michigan Democratic Party.

        Now that I pissed a bunch of “liberals” off let me clarify the MDP statement by simply saying there are individuals in the Party doing good work. The ones in control, however, are tools of Big Capital. Power to the people.

      16. Posted January 7, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

        Also, let us/me not forget those on the receiving end the the vast inequality and extreme poverty: likely most of you reading this blog especially including, of course, our homeless neighbors and friends.

      17. Greg Pratt
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        point of info: the above two comments represent my own views and not necessarily the views of our mission a2 organization. as always, thanks for reading.

      18. anonymous
        Posted January 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        I’m still not exactly clear on the differences between PORT and MA2 when it comes to delivering supplies. I understand that MA2 advocates on behalf of the homeless, especially those who choose not to enter shelters. And I understand that they operate a facility, which PORT does not. I was just hoping to get some clarity on the handing out of provisions, as it sounds like both groups are distributing propane tanks, sleeping bags, etc. I wanted to know how they coordinated activities and worked together.

      19. Posted January 7, 2014 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        anonymous 9:03
        1) The advocacy, community organizing and interdependent autonomous organization model draw a SHARP contrast between PORT and MA2. This only means we are different in approach and model. It does not mean we do not work together. We have had CSTS/PORT and Delonis workers attending our Sunday meals. We are stronger together.

        2) From the comment linked to below: “I [that is me] delivered 24 ea 16.4 propane tanks, two cases of water, multiple gloves hats socks and hand warmers to folks living in tents right now. Still have 59 canisters of propane left. Also spoke with my friend Jason Prince who is a team coordinator for PORT [homeless medical outreach]. We “coordinated” [go figure] with each other so he wasn’t bringing water to folks I just dropped off water and other supplies to etc.”
        http://markmaynard.com/2014/01/does-washtnaw-county-have-sufficient-infrastructure-to-keep-people-warm-this-weekend/#comment-863833

        Thanks for your question “anonymous 9:03″

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      1. By WCBN goes and One Louder with Skink on January 14, 2014 at 9:03 pm

        […] Pratt, who I interviewed a week or so ago about his work with local homeless folks, is also a DJ on WCBN, and it was in that capacity that he sent me the following video a few days […]

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