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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

Santa Cruz homeless shelter puts wheelchair bound man on the street for showering
by John E. Colby
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM
Within the last week I have become the representative and advocate for three different disabled homeless individuals — they all faced being forced onto the street or have been forced onto the street. Two, Ron Skinner and Megan Andrea Morgan, use walkers. They were told they could no longer access the River Street Emergency Shelter. This was later confirmed for one of them by a social worker. I called around the Homeless Service Center campus all day last Thursday, scrambling to find them beds. For them, being unhoused means eventually being a crime victim.

Yesterday, one of them called me frantically because Steve Lazow — who is confined to a wheelchair — was evicted from the Paul Lee Loft shelter for another homeless resident assisting him take a shower. This volunteer good samaritan was also evicted from the shelter. This is a clear violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and the federal Fair Housing Act. They were not given written explanations nor any appeal rights, denying them due process when being deprived of a federal benefit — the shelter receives federal money through a HUD block grant to the City of Santa Cruz. Now I am the representative and advocate for Mr. Lazow, advocating to gain him back the shelter wrongfully stolen from him.

What kind of community puts people using walkers and wheelchairs on the street? This is undeniably cruel, abusive and uncompassionate. Will Mayor Don Lane show some compassion by remedying this abuse of justice and civil rights violations?

June 11, 2012

Mayor Don Lane
809 Center Street, Room 10
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Tel: 831.420.5020

via email to: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: rcoonerty [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: kbeiers [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: hbryant [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: tmadrigal [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: lrobinson [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: dterrazas [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: JBarisone [at] abc-law.com
cc: mbernal [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: cberg [at] cityofsantacruz.com
cc: John.McCarty [at] hud.gov
cc: Lester.Davis [at] hud.gov
cc: Richard.Salom [at] hud.gov
cc: Mercedes.M.Marquez [at] hud.gov
cc: Maria.F.Cremer [at] hud.gov
cc: jgrow [at] nhlp.org
cc: info [at] nationalhomeless.org
cc: Disability Rights California via facsimile
cc: mcollier [at] sfchronicle.com
cc: achance [at] sacbee.com
cc: dbutler [at] mercurynews.com
cc: white [at] kpix.cbs.com
cc: 4listens [at] kron4.com
cc: assignmentdesk [at] kqed.org
cc: contact [at] pacifica.org
cc: jcopeland [at] santacruzsentinel.com
cc: garcher [at] gtweekly.com
cc: msc [at] metcruz.com
cc: brad.kava [at] patch.com
cc: editors [at] cityonahillpress.com
cc: ksconews [at] gmail.com
cc: kusp [at] kusp.org
cc: frsc [at] freakradio.org

re: Petition for redress of grievances and complaint against Santa Cruz HUD block grant provider

Dear Mayor Lane:

I am writing to you as the authorized representative and advocate for Steve Lazow, a disabled homeless citizen of Santa Cruz. Please view my officiated certification of representation and advocacy attached as a PDF and viewable using the link below:

http://tinyurl.com/6pk6or2

Mr. Lazow is confined to a wheelchair. It is cruel, abusive and uncompassionate that the City of Santa Cruz would force him to sleep outdoors, vulnerable to attack and the elements. Mr. Lazow was evicted last Sunday from the Paul Lee Loft shelter for exercising his disability rights. His friend Mia LNU was evicted from the Paul Lee Loft for assisting Mr. Lazow in exercising his disability rights. It is inexcusable that Paul Lee Loft shelter staff would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), and the federal Fair Housing Act, discriminating against both Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU by making them homeless for exercising Mr. Lazow's disability rights. Moreover, staff at the Paul Lee Loft shelter violated the requirements of their HUD grant money, placing their HUD funds at risk.

Additionally, it is reported that the staff–person who evicted Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU from the Paul Lee Loft shelter is a misogynist who has a grudge against Mia LNU. This could be determined to be gender based harassment violating the federal Fair Housing Act.

Please view the petition by homeless individuals staying at the Homeless Services Center (HSC) campus to reinstate Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU at the Paul Lee Loft shelter, and to reprimand staff–person Joe LNU for writing up Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU then evicting them from the Paul Lee Loft shelter, forcing Mr. Lazow to sleep outdoors in his wheelchair, at great risk, while he suffers pain from a medical condition related to his physical disability. It is attached as a PDF and may be viewed using the link below:

http://tinyurl.com/d283boh

Please view the incident reports by Megan Andrea Morgan, whom I also advocate for and represent, and Patricia Bounds. They both ask that Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU be reinstated at the Paul Lee Loft shelter and that staff–person Joe LNU be reprimanded. These reports are attached as PDFs and may be viewed using the links below:

http://tinyurl.com/cf56xmz

http://tinyurl.com/d2evg2x

Please view photographs of Mr. Lazow resting, trying to fall asleep against the back wall of the rear of the HSC Campus parking lot. A blanket is his only protection from the elements. He has no protection from criminals who might do him harm due to his vulnerability.

I would like to describe the factual circumstances as I understand them from speaking to several people and my own observations:

Mr. Lazow is confined to a wheelchair. Due to a serious physical disability, Mr. Lazow does not have any function in his legs — his legs are mostly paralyzed.

The Paul Lee Loft shelter does not provide assistive services for physically disabled homeless individuals who are unable to shower because of their disabilities, e.g. individuals in wheelchairs like Mr. Lazow.

Paul Lee Loft shelter staff refused to assist Mr. Lazow in showering, thus he was unable to shower. Mia LNU informed Paul Lee Loft shelter staff that she would assist Mr. Lazow in showering, since he was not receiving assistance and had not recently showered.

After helping Mr. Lazow shower, two Paul Lee Loft shelter staff–people commended Mia LNU for her assistance in helping Mr. Lazow take showers.

Early Sunday morning Paul Lee Loft shelter employee Joe LNU wrote up Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU for a female showering with a male in the male showers. Joe informed them verbally, not in writing, that they were being exited from the Paul Lee Loft shelter after doors closed that morning and could not return. Joe LNU did not provide them written complaints which they could dispute using an appeals process. Joe LNU denied Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU their federally guaranteed due process rights. Mr. Lazow believes that Joe LNU retaliated against him because one of Mr. Lazow's friends publicly embarrassed Joe LNU by calling Joe out to fight off the property — Joe LNU backed down in front of others. Mr. Lazow believes that Joe LNU bears a personal grudge against him.

Mia LNU and others related to me that Joe LNU is a misogynist who bears a grudge towards Mia. They believe Joe LNU was retaliating against Mia because of his grudge against her which seems to be based in misogyny.

Mia LNU was able to stay Sunday night in the motel room of a friend. Mr. Lazow was unable to find an available motel room. Consequently Mr. Lazow was not housed Sunday night, sleeping in his wheelchair covered by a blanket, in the parking lot of the Homeless Resource Center (HSC) Campus.

Mr. Lazow informed me that he was the victim of a robbery last January. He informed the SCPD. Others told Mr. Lazow that the perpetuator had been caught by the SCPD yet no charges were brought against this individual by the District Attorney's Office. The SCPD did not return Mr. Lazow's stolen belongings to him.

Mr. Lazow was seen at a medical clinic Sunday afternoon. His swollen left leg was bandaged. Mr. Lazow was not told the nature of his medical condition. Mr. Lazow was prescribed medicine for the swelling. Mr. Lazow has been in a great deal of pain since then. When I entered the HSC Campus Sunday night around 7:30 PM, I saw paramedics leaving the campus. Mr. Lazow informed me that he had called 911 for the paramedics. The paramedics refused to examine and treat Mr. Lazow. They did not even examine his swollen, bandaged left leg. The paramedics claimed Mr. Lazow had called them just to gain housing for the night. I photographed Mr. Lazow where he was resting, covered by a blanket, trying to sleep while suffering in pain. I left to obtain food and water for him. I returned about 30 minutes later with food and water. I told Mr. Lazow to call me if the pain became unbearable, that I would call 911 for him and have the paramedics return, because I am his representative and advocate. I then left Mr. Lazow. I have not spoken with him since then. I don't know if he survived the night.

Lastly, HSC Executive Director Monica Martinez refuses to recognize me as an advocate and representative, claiming that HSC clients require court ordered requests to retain an advocate and representative. This is outrageous! Her staff refuses to provide me a written copy of this policy so that I may share it with the federal government, an attorney and the news media. I believe her claimed policy is illegal, not only under the ADA, but also under laws which allow people to retain others, like family members, as representatives and advocates for them. If Ms. Martinez does not acknowledge me as a representative and advocate for HSC clients then I plan to take legal and governmental action against the HSC and the City of Santa Cruz which funds and administers it.

I ask that:

• Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU be immediately reinstated at the Paul Lee Loft shelter.

• Paul Lee Loft shelter staff–person Joe LNU be reprimanded.

• Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC, personally apologize to Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU, assuring them that they will be able to exercise Mr. Lazow's federally protected disability rights without retaliation by HSC staff.

• Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC, personally ensure that the petitioners, especially Ms. Morgan whom I represent and who gathered signatures for the petition, be protected from retaliation and coercion as they acted to assist Mr. Lazow and Mia LNU in exercising his federally protected disability rights.

• Monica Martinez, Executive Director of the HSC, personally direct HSC staff in crafting ADA, Section 504 and Fair Housing compliance policies and procedures — complying with HUD guidelines — to be given to all applicants and HSC staff.

• All HSC staff be educated about beneficiaries' rights and staff's responsibilities under the ADA, Section 504, the Fair Housing Act and other applicable nondiscrimination laws.

A signed copy of this email message will be mailed to you via certified post. I appreciate your immediate attention to my petition for redress of grievances and your addressing my complaint against the Paul Lee Loft shelter (part of the HSC) as a Santa Cruz HUD block grant provider.

Sincerely yours,
John E. Colby, Ph.D.
§Photo of Steve Lazow unsheltered
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM

§Photo of Steve Lazow unsheltered
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM

§Photo of Steve Lazow unsheltered
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM

§Photo of Steve Lazow unsheltered
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM


§Incident report #1 about kicking Steve and Mia out
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM

§Incident report #2 about kicking Steve and Mia out
by John E. Colby Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:17 AM


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Eyes on HSC
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 8:45 AM
John, this is excellent work. This coverage also helps to illustrate so many more stories as well, which we have been hearing about over the years. It's powerful when you take the time to listen and speak with people, and document their stories. This is what independent media is all about.
Speak truth to power, and take action.
by A
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 3:38 PM
Thank you for what your doing. Sadly this is not the first time. Maybe we can make it the last.
Peace to you
by Elaine
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 6:20 PM
This is so pathetic. This poor homeless man. To think Our Santa Cruz City Council doesn't care about a person as helpless as this. Shame on them!
by Robert Norse
Thursday Jun 14th, 2012 2:45 AM
Several of the disabled victims of the discriminatory polices of the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center will be on my Free Radio Show this Sunday. I hope to have them on at 9:30 AM. The show is broadcast at 101.3 FM and streams at http://tunein.com/search/?query=FRSC.

The show will be archived at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120617.mp3 .

Please contact John Colby or HUFF (at 831-423-4833) with concerns about discriminatory treatment at the HLOSC.
by John E. Colby
( karma [at] cruzio.com ) Thursday Jun 14th, 2012 11:55 PM
If are a disabled homeless individual who feels that you have been discriminated against in shelter, health, or transportation services, please contact me at karma [at] cruzio.com or call 831-471-9767 and leave a message.
by Robert Norse
Friday Jun 15th, 2012 3:02 AM
I recently had the following exchange of e-mails with Mayor Don Lane, who is also on the Board of Directors of the Homeless Services Center (which I term the "Homeless Lack of Services Center"). Our dialogue began with my seeking a follow-up interview to various earlier e-mails and radio chats.

(See "Bigwigs and Bankbusters--Interviews with the High and Lowly" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/02/25/18708185.php; "Lane Justifies Continued Constricted. Repressive, and Uncertain Oral Communications Time" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/02/05/18706677.php?show_comments=1#18707976 & at t http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120105.mp3 . & Lane Radio Interview at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb120105.mp3 (20 minutes into the audio file).




From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 26, 2012 11:48 AM
To: Don Lane
Cc: Steve Pleich; linda (4!) Lemaster
Subject: Radio Interview

Hi, Don:

Given all the latest brouhaha attacking homeless people and homeless services, I'd like to interview you for half an hour on Free Radio. That would be on a Thursday night 6-8 Pm or a Sunday morning 9:30 PM - 1 PM. Would you be available? No ducking now.

R

From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 14:38:30 -0700
Subject: RE: Radio Interview

Hi Robert
Thanks for the invitation. Sorry I won’t be able to join you.
I always experience my conversations and interviews with you as circular and unproductive.
I believe this is at least as much my responsibility as it is yours… but whoever is responsible, this is my consistent experience.
Thanks again.

Don Don Lane Mayor City of Santa Cruz 831-420-5022



From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
Subject: RE: Radio Interview
Date: Tue, 29 May 2012 19:42:38 -0700

So is this a rejection of any discussion of the issues for the foreseeable future or simply this weekend?



From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, June 11, 2012 9:53 AM
To: HUFF yahoo groups
Cc: City (!) Council; Monica Martinez; Don Lane; Jessica of the Sentinel; Bob (!) Offer-Westort of COH; G Walkabouting; Ed Frey; KZSC; Rosie of KSCO; Tad; Robert Scott Dreher; Mike Rhodes; Lois of KPFA
Subject: Santa Cruz Homeless (lack of ) Services Center Gets Much Needed Spotlight--Disabled Discrimination on the Rampage?

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/11/18715157.php

Santa Cruz homeless shelter puts wheelchair bound man on the street for showering

by John E. Colby
Monday Jun 11th, 2012 7:16 AM

Within the last week I have become the representative and advocate for three different disabled homeless individuals — they all faced being forced onto the street or have been forced onto the street. Two, Ron Skinner and Megan Andrea Morgan, use walkers. They were told they could no longer access the River Street Emergency Shelter. This was later confirmed for one of them by a social worker. I called around the Homeless Service Center campus all day last Thursday, scrambling to find them beds. For them, being unhoused means eventually being a crime victim....[see http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/11/18715157.php for the entire Colby expose of the HLOSC abuse]



From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2012 13:42:14 -0700
Subject: RE: Santa Cruz Homeless (lack of ) Services Center Gets Much Needed Spotlight--Disabled Discrimination on the Rampage?

Robert
The situation was resolved positively in one day… by the staff at the Homeless Services Center well before you took advantage of someone else’s misfortune to make a public stink.
Your consistent effort to discredit people who do more every week to provide tangible help to people in need than you have provided in your entire lifetime is truly unfortunate.
It is so sad that someone so committed to helping homeless people has done so little.
If you’d like to have a more positive impact in people’s lives, I can recommend many organizations you can support.
In the mean time, until I can identify some public good from my spending any more time with you, I will not be doing so.

Don Lane Mayor City of Santa Cruz 831-420-5022



From: Robert Norse [mailto:rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2012 12:44 PM
To: Don Lane
Cc: John Colby; Steve Pleich; linda (4!) Lemaster; Beggerbacker Becky Johnson; David Beauvais; lioness [at] got.net; Katherine Beiers; Monica Martinez
Subject: Please Address the Issues Instead of Attacking the Messenger

Don:
The situation at the HLOSC is far from resolved, as you'll discover in the days ahead.

I believe complaints about the broader arbitrary and discriminatory policies at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center are going out to state and federal agencies (not from me, I might add, as you can see by John Colby's determined and dogged persistence). The one-day patch up job hasn't satisfied the complainants, as you probably well know.

Your declining a follow-up interview both violates your prior commitment to do so. It also tends to indicate that you are reluctant to be confronted with concerns raised by your weak-kneed response to the Santa Cruz Neighbors/Take Back Santa Cruz mob's "drive out of town every third homeless person" as well as Monica Martinez's endless evasions, false statements, and homeless-hostile policies (covered always with a sunny smile) around HLOSC thuggery, arbitrary exclusions with no appeal process, contraction of key homeless services like locker space in favor of offices for staff, pandering to bigoted neighbors with "no impact" zones and punitive measures against homeless people in public spaces, misrepresentation of their shelter space and policies in court and in the media, etc.

You've known about this stuff for years and dismissed it or simply chosen to cover for Martinez. If you have any response other than feel-good coronation speeches and once-a-year charity drives, please let us know.

Direct attempts to discuss this with you have resulted in little meaningful response. It appears that something like Colby's legalistic approach gets the goods.

I will acknowledge you initially made yourself more accessible than prior mayor's and opened up your past lobbyist meeting record as well as your upcoming schedule. [See "Mayor Lane Releases History of Community Contacts" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/02/22/18707952.php] Your past willingness to appear on Free Radio before strong critics also showed an initial willingness, at least, to address folks in a public arena where you don't have a gavel and a sergeant-at-arms to intimidate people who speak for more than three minutes or turn their back on you while they talk.

You should also be aware that the lawsuit against the City around repressive procedures and false arrests at City Council is coming up for trial shortly. Changing those procedures and making a meaningful change in the Sleeping Ban that lets Santa Cruz catch up with San Diego and Los Angeles would be a positive step. Even advocating for such a thing--regardless of the Coonerty majority would go a long way towards restoring your credibility among those who oppose the criminalization of the homeless (which you've repeatedly voted for).

As a journalist, I'm still calling on you to have open discussion of these issues, either directly on Free Radio or through a taped interview. You're also invited to have a public debate on these issues either at Louden Nelson or the Resource Center for Non-Violence.

As one who has made homelessness the poster child of his career, is this too much for you to handle?

R Norse

P.S. By the way, have you done anything to address the apparent use of the SCPD to drive away homeless people from San Lorenzo Park during the S. Collins memorial last Saturday? See "On Driving Away Homeless People From San Lorenzo Park on Saturday Morning" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/10/18715102.php .



From: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
To: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 16:19:02 -0700
Subject: RE: Please Address the Issues Instead of Attacking the Messenger

I do respond to questions from journalists who ask questions without attacking the subject of their interview.
I do not feel the same responsibility to advocates who attack the people they are trying to influence and motivate.
Put another way… I am tired of responding to bullying tactics.

Don Lane Mayor City of Santa Cruz 831-420-5022



From: rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com
To: dlane [at] cityofsantacruz.com
CC: huffsantacruz [at] yahoogroups.com; jpasko [at] santacruzsentinel.com; jsmalkin [at] hotmail.com; jpierce [at] santacruzweekly.com
Subject: Still Looking For A Public Response
Date: Fri, 15 Jun 2012 02:33:51 -0700

Don:
You were initially asked to respond to the attacks on the homeless community raised by those opportunistically waving the bloody blouse of Shannon Collins. You were not personally attacked whatsoever. I understand further scapegoating attacks on the homeless community are in the offing from the Coonerty faction on the Council come next Council meeting. If you have opposed or denounced these abusive measures, I've not been reading about it in the Sentinel.

Subsequently I forwarded to you and others a series of serious e-mail concerns, photos, and public records act requests by John Colby. The issue was raised by Colby and those he is representing, not by me. It was published by Colby in Santa Cruz Indymedia ("Santa Cruz homeless shelter puts wheelchair bound man on the street for showering" at http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/06/11/18715157.php .

You begin by dismissing the central concerns, suggesting that the issues were "resolved in one day" by Martinez. Contrary to your claims, it is my understanding that the issues around discrimination against Steve Lazow, Andrea Morgan, Ron Skinner, and other disabled people being denied services at the Homeless (Lack of) Services Center have not been resolved.

You are on the Board of the HLOSC; you are also Mayor of Santa Cruz. Bringing these issues to you is not a personal attack, unless perhaps you are somehow personally complicit in setting up or maintaining discriminatory policies (or turning a blind eye to them when and if they were previously brought to your attention).

Instead of addressing these issues, you launched into a personal attack on me--sounding suspiciously like resentment for having helped Colby bring these matters to light and a cover barrage for your favored Executive Director, Martinez. Raising issues of her abusive or negligent management practices is a form of important public education and the responsibility of homeless advocates (and your responsibility as well, in as much as you claim to be such an advocate). In a previous e-mail I've referred (admittedly somewhat angrily) to a number of those policies (not getting into the recent abrupt changes of personnel there)--which you've either ignored, defended, or apparently been ignorant of over the last few years.

It wold be easy to conclude that you're in this too deep yourself to do anything else other than attack critics and attempt some clumsy damage control by making a few superficial changes without addressing the fundamental violations alleged by Colby and those he represents. But isn't it your responsibility to directly address these concerns--even when they come from journalists like myself?

Exposing abuses and requiring responsible answers from authorities in charge is hardly "bullying tactics". This is the kind of claim made by somehow who wishes to shift attention from the questions being asked to discredit the journalist asking the questions.

I'm sure there are other advocates who would be happy to have a dialogue with you if you find my history of activism off-putting and "saddening". I'd be happy to arrange that. Would you be willing to do that publicly, either on the radio or in another public forum?

The question for me is pretty simple. Are you willing to answer hard questions publicly from someone who is not interested in "influencing and motivating you", as much as getting some truthful answers about life-threatening behavior against homeless people?

The point, as Colby's work clearly shows, is that you and those you protect only seem to get motivated when a strong light is thrown on their activities. If you are not afraid of that light, please let me know when you'll be available to have this public discussion.

Robert