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All of Us Are One

Madison: Stop Criminalizing Homelessness

Join us this Friday, March 8 for a rally on the steps of the City-County Building. Why?

Madison and Dane County must stop enacting and enforcing policies that deliver crushing outcomes for our homeless brother and sisters!

March is a bad month for persons without homes seeking services in our community!

  • As of March 10th there will be 150 men who won’t be able to go back to shelter until November 1st unless it is colder than 20 degrees or there is extreme weather.
  • The county will be kicking the Occupiers out of Token Creek on March 17th. Legal camping will not resume until April 16th.
  • March 31st the Day Warming Center (and all the supportive services that go with it) will close indefinitely until a new place is found.
  • Permanent bans in the shelter for the following items potentially means freezing to death, no mailing services, no bus tickets, no housing assistance:
    • Stealing of shelter property will result in prosecution and permanent ban.
    • Stealing of a guest’s property will result in permanent ban.
    • Guests threatening bodily harm to staff, volunteers, or other guests will be banned from all Porchlight programs, including Hospitality House and the DIGS program.
    • Guests vandalizing any Porchlight property will be permanently banned from all Porchlight programs. Reconsideration of the ban may occur after full restitution is made and counseling for anger and aggression is completed.
    • Repeated violations (of rules) will result in permanent denial of entry.
    • Guests who misuse the shelter will be denied entry. “Misuse” is defined as: a) eating and leaving, b) using the name of another guest to register/ using a false name, c) any other falsifications to defraud or mislead.

This means people will return to the street – and return to getting ticketed by the police for sleeping in areas that are deemed inappropriate.

This means people will get tickets for public urination because there is only one porta-potty downtown to be used when businesses close, if you know where it is.

This means that people will not have places to store their items during the day to go look for jobs and housing and to make appointments.

This means that 150 more men and 25 more Occupiers will be sleeping outside on the streets, in the parks and in your neighborhoods.

This means that all the relationship built at the day warming center will be lost or weakened.

This means that access to bus tickets and daytime meals and warm clothes and a kind smile and listening ear will be harder to find.

We have seen a 45% increase in homelessness in the last 2 years. Twice a year there is a federally required “count” of homeless persons and in 2011 it was 573, in 2013 it was 831. And this is grossly under-counted. More info here: http://www.forwardlookout.com/2013/02/yes-homelessness-is-increasing/17245

Which means we are increasing the amount of criminals – who get tickets for basic life serving functions – and increasing our jail costs ($82/night) while not helping the people who need services, not incarceration. Need solutions, not ultimatums. Need a hand up, not a hand out.

Come help us talk about the solutions! Help us get the attention of elected officials right in their front yard.

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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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