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All of Us Are One

Please Come to the Homeless Services Consortium on Mar 5

The Homeless Services Consortium

By Ronnie Barbett

Every once in awhile, an activity reaches a standstill…very little moving forward, and the hope of not going backward. In terms of the financial spectrum, going from red to black. Not only is it true that money is the root of all evil, it really does make the world go round. Money is how things get done.

Funding as a prime mover for an organization’s success running time (getting the most out of very little) is crucial to those that are dependent on them. Children are always expected to look up to Mommy and Daddy for support. But grown-ups are different. I, myself try to show my appreciation to anyone putting up with me. It never occurs to me to bite the hand that feeds me. I believe it only occurs when a grown-up doesn’t like what he or she is being fed. You can’t trust everyone.

Never take everything that’s being given out. Only take what you need. I believe in looking at the person giving you something. To all those people and organizations dealing with homeless issues, I borrowed some written text from one of Madison’s best known periodicals. As an information source, “Madison Magazine” comes in handy for all city residents. The magazine is comprised people you can believe, and Rebecca Ryan, a person who knows, is in my spotlight as I borrow an excerpt from, “Madison’s Succession Plan,” in the January 2013 issue of the Madison Magazine Rebecca Ryan interview with Dave Boyer. I found it relevant to a feeling that I have. No insult intended to all the people affected by the decision to present this part of the text – I want all the organizations dealing with homelessness to read this part of Dave Boyer’s comments in the article.
“Many of our community organizations have their core of set values and beliefs that end up keeping things the same. It’s human behavior – when an organization becomes established, it often benefits if things remain the same. Leaders often unknowingly collude with other leaders and funders to keep things the same. The result is that our trajectories are in the wrong direction. Someone has to be leading a different kind of change.”

I believe that Rebecca Ryan added to this, stating “Dave’s comments are the clanging bell for Madison to attract and promote different kinds of leaders.” The homeless situation here in Madison is worthy of my attention and whomever that cares about Ms. Ryan’s added statement. The men’s shelter and the women’s shelter are not well enough organized to handle the needs and issues of the homeless. The men’s shelter is divided between three churches and the overflow at the Salvation Army’s women and children’s shelter is getting expensive hotel vouchers or being turned away. Both shelters have penalties that are handed out if you come inside with the wrong attitude, causing trouble, being drunk and disorderly…you may end up in jail, detox, or merely shown the door and left out in the streets. The point is this – the lack of space will be solved if all the service organizations agree that individual housing/apartments for the homeless is needed is made available to them.

Everybody crowded into a tight space with attitude is negative to the solution of homelessness. It’s time to push forward with a new up-to-date shelter system here in Madison. Couples should have a voice regarding their circumstances. I’ve noticed that two people, whether married or not, spend most of their time trying to say together…where’s an apartment for them if these organizations already in place are available. I hope that everyone considers as I do that “being indoors” is the solution to homeless people. Not having enough money to fund these organizations must be addressed. The city of Madison knows what’s going on…they must heed the advice of the leaders they themselves have authorized to figure out homeless solutions.

The Dane County Homeless Issues Committee operating on the “housing is a human right” stated in their Res. 20, 12-13 report.

“There is a need for additional federal, state and local city and county funding for housing first programs, more single room occupancy (SRO) units, and adequate shelter for those without housing.”
The Homeless Issues Committee has had many meetings at the City-County Building with discussions on solving the issues of homelessness. What may homeless advocates and organizations dealing with homelessness has been doing is basically reporting what could and should be done over the long haul. They are concerned with every aspect of homelessness reported.

“To explore many of the issues that have been brought up such as restrooms, showers, laundry, a third party complaint system, a place to store belongings during the day, the ability to utilize public spaces free from harassment and other issues identified by community members.”

This written statement is why the homeless should come together in a united effort to push forward regarding a new and better shelter system. Every day in the city of Madison, someone is ticketed for indecent exposure while caught urinating in the wrong place, their belongings confiscated, tickets for trespassing, caught sleeping in the wrong place. Restaurants and other businesses are tired of putting up with us hanging out during the day panhandling on the side. Even problems occurring at the shelters in place are due to an outdated building and personnel lacking care tactics. A better housing situation is now needed more than ever that also has counseling services, job and health info, complete storage, laundry, computers, and private showers included…all inside one huge complex. If anyone has a better idea, submit it now. The Department of Human Services has been directed to conduct a thorough assessment of current programs (like the ones at Salvation Army/Porchlight, Inc.) and services available to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This also means that they be interested and show an interest in all good proposals on homelessness. All the good, caring people that are part of the organizations dealing with the homeless…please come to the next homeless services consortium. Present your ideas.


About Operation Welcome Home

OWH is a group of homeless people in Madison, WI and their allies organizing around the root causes of homelessness- racism, poverty, and criminalization. We are fighting for housing, jobs, and an end to the criminalization of poverty.


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(608) 371-WARM
Note: You must dial '608' first.


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(7 days a week, until March 31st)


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Madison, WI 53703
(former Lussier Teen Center)


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