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Sleeping Ban Sign-Offs: HUFF Activist Coaxes Answers From Vice-Mayor Lane!
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jan 8th, 2011 10:29 PM
"Bashful" Bernard Klitzner, a long-time HUFF member, has finally coaxed some answers out of Vice-Mayor Don Lane. Lane also sits on the Board of the Homeless Services Board [HSC]. He refused to answer simple questions on HSC emergency shelter policy. I posted a long thread detailing my correspondence with Lane and HSC Executive Director Martinez ( http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/22/18667405.php). This thread did not appear in the Local News section of indymedia, so some may have missed it. Lane's answers to Bernard's questions are reprinted below. For the earlier correspondence go to the longer thread mentioned above.
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2010/12/22/18667405.php?show_comments=1#18668609

Lane Finally Replies...
by Robert Norse
Saturday Jan 8th, 2011 9:45 PM
Lane has stalled on this issue for a month at least. HSC Director Martinez has stalled since August. At first Lane claimed he didn't have the information to answer the questions below, then insisted I was "bullying". Those reviewing my correspondence above can judge for themselves. Obviously Lane had access to the information because HUFF member Bernard Klitzner was able to get the following info in fairly short order (after two failed attempts by Berrnard).

I asked the following questions which Lane refused to answer. Bernard repeated the request several times by e-mail.

THE QUESTIONS

1. The policy of the Homeless Services Center regarding its shelter policies. Can anyone who wants to sign up on the HSC waiting list for a shelter bed? Are there specific requirements or prohibitions? Is this still the case now that the Armory is open?

2. Do you gave a person signing any receipt or other indication that they have signed up for the bed?

3. Is there any requirement that a person "check in" to stay on the sign-up list and if so how frequently?

4. Is there someone by phone at the HSC available each night to advise someone calling in whether the shelter is full? What is the number to call?

5. Is the HSC refusing to provide a letter acknowledging that it was full on a night was cited under MC 6.36 for sleeping or camping if the person cited wasn't on the HSC waiting list on the date of the citation?


THE "ANSWERS"

From: Don Lane
Subject: questions
To: "BernardBella Klitzner"
Date: Wednesday, January 5, 2011, 10:59 PM

Hi Bernard
I did some informal checking with the HSC staff to discern the answers to the 5 questions and my anwers are shown below.
Don


1. Yes people can sign up for a shelter bed. Is this still the case now that the Armory is open?
Yes

2. Does HSC give a person any receipt or other indication that they have signed up for the bed?
No

3. Is there any requirement that a person "check in" and if so how frequently?
Not exactly a "requirement" but the signed up person is asked to check in on Monday to see if he/she got a bed in the Loft shelter. People who want a spot at the Armory just show up each day.

4. Is there someone available each night to advise someone calling in whether the shelter is full? What is the number to call?
No

5. Will HSC refuse to provide a letter acknowledging that your shelter was full on a night someone got a ticket if they weren't on your waiting list?
Unknown. This is still hypothetical because this has not come up with any clients yet.

The questions were simple. The answers are simple.

The last answer is still evasive, since I was told by homeless activists trying to sign up for shelter in the late summer and by Martinez (when she was still talking to me) that the HSC would only present a letter to the court to document the fact that there were full on a night when a homeless person got a ticket if that person had previously signed up for their program.

Which is obstructive and foolish. Foolish since the homeless person can always get the court to subpoena a HSC rep into court to testify as to whether the shelter was full or not. Obstructive because it makes it more difficult for those who are sleeping outside to show the court at arraignment there simply was no space in the shelter that night. Additionally, it was past policy and just an admission of the simple truth on any night.

Why the stall, why the uncertainty ("Unknown...hypothetical") ? Either it's still their policy, or it isn't. Is HSC nervous about offending the city attorney and police who still want to use the Sleeping Ban to control the homeless population through fear?

Call Monica Martinez, Executive Director, at 420-6020 and ask her.

If any homeless people are following this issue and have information to give about whether the HSC is helping homeless people get Sleeping Ban citations dismissed, please post here.

The amended Sleeping Ban requires the City Attorney to dismiss Sleeping Ban tickets if the Armory was full or if you're on a waiting list. The court will dismiss tickets if there was no room in the shelter, even if you weren't on a waiting list (or is supposed to under the necessity defense). The HSC could be very helpful here by advising police on any night if shelters were full so that police would then have no excuse to cite people--since the citations would be dismissed (and could be regarded as harassment since police have that knowledge).

When I spoke to an employee at the shelter a few months ago, s/he told me that they did have someone there at night who would say if the shelter was full---although neither Lane nor Martinez would admit it. Now Lane says that's not the case. Perhaps they've cut back staff or changed the policy. It would be nice if we could get some clear straight answers without having to wait months.

I guess this is all part of playing footsie with Mayor Coonerty's City Council and Kevin Vogel's SCPD. Got to keep those grants coming, satisfy the nervous neighbors, and keep the bureaucrats happy.