On 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.”
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.
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.