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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Health, Housing, and Public Services

River Street Shelter refuses to acknowledge me as a representative/advocate for clients
by John E. Colby
Friday Jun 29th, 2012 6:49 AM
River Street Emergency Shelter Program Manager Tracey Heggum steadfastly refuses to acknowledge me as the representative and advocate for five different disabled homeless individuals. Clearly they desperately need representation and advocacy, because they have gotten unsatisfactory results by trying to navigate the programs located on the Homeless Services Center campus by themselves — they have been chronically homeless for years. If they don't gain my representation/advocacy they could die on the streets. Please read my latest email, among many others, that I just sent to River Street Emergency Shelter Program Manager Tracey Heggum.

These five extremely disabled homeless individuals have bounced from one shelter bed to another between bouts of homelessness. The system isn't working for them. One would think that the River Street Emergency Shelter would welcome someone with a Ph.D. coming to the aid of these extremely vulnerable individuals, since they are on the verge of being made homeless again — on the verge of being on the street again.



Stan Willis is dying from colon cancer. Being on the street would be a death sentence for him. Steve Lazow is wheelchair bound and has a serious staph infection. If Steve is put on the street, then not only would he likely be robbed again like he was last January, but the staph infection on his leg would spiral out of control, endangering his life. Ron Skinner who uses a walker is an especially vulnerable individual — he cannot survive on the streets. Megan Andrea Morgan who also uses a walker suffers from severe fatigue and exhaustion. Again, living on the streets would be a death sentence for her, especially because she is a severely disabled woman.



How can Santa Cruz Mayor Don Lane make excuses for the River Street Emergency Shelter not allowing me to represent and advocate for these extremely vulnerable individuals, disabled homeless people who have fallen through the cracks of the different homeless services and health provider programs located on the Homeless Services Center campus?



The River Street Emergency Shelter is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 (of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) and the federal Fair Housing Act. Their federal funding requires that the River Street Emergency Shelter abide by federal nondiscrimination laws. I intend to determine what local government agency is responsible to administer the programs/services of the River Street Emergency Shelter and to hold them accountable for allowing this shelter to flout federal nondiscrimination laws.

My clients' civil rights will be enforced.

The Homeless Person's Health Project (HPHP) also refuses to recognize me as a representative/advocate for their clients. Thus these disabled homeless individuals are not being adequately served by HPHP either. They are falling through the cracks on their own, while these homeless services/healthcare providers refuse to allow me to represent them and advocate on their behalf to gain (permanent) housing and adequate healthcare.