[Hpn] SHELTER ARRESTS SPARK PROTEST at Police Department in Pontiac MI USA USA

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Thu, 1 Feb 2001 07:16:21 -0800 (PST)



SHELTER ARRESTS SPARK PROTEST at Police Department in Pontiac, Michigan, USA:

1) Should nonprofits help police to arrest homeless people charged with
misdemeanors?

2) Should shelters require homeless people to give IDs & Social Security
numbers as a condition of service?

3) When homeless people give personal information to human service
providers, are "providers' promises" sufficient to "protect our rights" to
confidentiality?  Please cite examples.

SNIP CONTENT BELOW to "only text to which you reply directly":

http://www.freep.com/news/locoak/pon31_20010131.htm
FWD  Detroit Free Press - January 31, 2001

     PHOTO by JEFFREY SAUGER / Special to the Free Press:
"Staff, residents and supporters of the Grace Centers of Hope
march to the Pontiac Police Department on Tuesday to protest
a raid on the shelter last week."

DOORS CLOSING TO HOMELESS

CENTER, CITING PRESSURE FROM PONTIAC, IS TO END EMERGENCY SHELTER

BY HUGH McDIARMID JR. - FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Lost amid the furor over a police raid of the Grace Centers of Hope last
week was an announcement that sent chills through Oakland County's homeless
assistance network.

The Pontiac center, under pressure from city leaders, will jettison its
emergency shelter program on March 1, officials confirmed Tuesday.

That will put up to 70 more men and women on the streets -- adults who have
been spending the night at the shelter but are on their own during the day.
The center's yearlong rehabilitation program, where clients are supervised
24 hours a day, won't be affected.

Right now, there aren't nearly enough places to absorb that many homeless
people, say advocates who are quickly putting their heads together. They
point to the irony that the state's wealthiest county isn't meeting the
demand for assistance.

"We're researching to see if we can't get someone else to come up here" to
help provide services, said Noreen Keating, executive director of
Lighthouse of Oakland County, a Pontiac-based nonprofit organization that
provides emergency services -- but not emergency shelter -- to poor and
homeless people.

The Rev. Kent Clark, who runs the center, formerly known as the Pontiac
Rescue Mission, said its 30-day emergency shelter was the target of
increasing criticism from city leaders and businesses. They blamed clients
for loitering downtown, petty crimes and frightening patrons in a
burgeoning district of nightclubs and restaurants.

Some city officials have said they believe if the center won't house
homeless people, the people will move elsewhere, alleviating Pontiac of the
responsibility.

But Clark said he's unable to address complaints of loitering and worse
crimes in such a hostile environment.

"We can't handle that problem with the police on our back and the
businesses on our back, too," Clark said Tuesday during a march of about 70
shelter residents to the Pontiac Police station.

The marchers were protesting a raid last week that resulted in the arrests
of more than 30 people on mostly misdemeanor warrants.

Losing the emergency shelter program will shut the door to hope for many,
said Chris Cole, who used the program last year while turning his life
around.

"It gives you a chance to change your life and get yourself together," said
Cole, 52, who found a job at a plastics company and a Pontiac apartment
while sleeping at the center in its emergency program. "If it's
discontinued, it's a great injustice to others."

Oakland County has the state's highest per capita income -- $42,378 -- but
still has more than 40,000 renter households in the "worst case" housing
needs category, according to a 1998 Department of Housing and Urban
Development study. That means they make less than half the median income or
pay more than half their salary toward rent.

Word that the program was being scrapped came Jan. 23, the same day as the
raid.

Clark called the raid part of a political smear campaign. He has been
critical of city leaders who have refused to allow him to use a building on
the downtown's outskirts as a rehabilitation center for drug-addicted women
and their children.

Finger-pointing over the raid overshadowed the loss of the emergency
program, which gives shelter and warm meals to people for up to 30 days.
Last year it provided more than 24,000 stays.

Because emergency shelter clients must leave the shelter's downtown Pontiac
building each morning and return in the evening, the program has been
accused of putting transients on the street.

"It's terribly cruel to take people in at night and during the day,
regardless of the weather or their condition, turn them on the streets,"
said Gary Foster, a Pontiac City Council member.

Foster says the state should take more responsibility for the problem.
Other city officials say neighboring towns should lend a hand.

"I believe other communities should step up to the plate," said Katrina
Henry, spokeswoman for Pontiac Mayor Walter Moore.

Kip Diotte, director of the Lansing-based Michigan Coalition against
Homelessness, said the closure is shocking. "There are only 5,400 shelter
beds in the whole state, so when we lose any, it hurts," he said.

When the program ends, pressure will increase on the handful of other
agencies that provide overnight emergency accommodations. Even
collectively, they won't be able to handle the influx, said Monica Duncan,
director of the South Oakland Shelter, based in Royal Oak.

"This puts me in a horrible position," she said, noting the churches that
host the shelter's program on a rotating basis are usually at their 30-bed
capacity. "I'll be telling people I don't have space."

Contact HUGH McDIARMID JR. at 248-586-2611 or <mcdiarmidjr@freepress.com>.
Staff writer Kathleen Gray contributed to this report.

*****

http://www.freep.com/news/locoak/npont30_20010130.htm
FWD  Detroit Free Press - January 30, 2001

SHELTER ARRESTS FOCUS OF PROTEST

WALK TO SEND MESSAGE: NO MORE POLICE RAIDS

BY SALLY TATO - FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Fearing a repeat raid and drop in donations, about 100 Pontiac homeless
shelter residents are expected to march a half-mile today to the Pontiac
Police Department to symbolically turn themselves in.

The protest -- scheduled one week after the Jan. 23 raid at Grace Centers
of Hope -- is being dubbed Black Tuesday and is meant to send a message to
police that repeat raids are not necessary, said the Rev. Kent Clark, who
runs the shelter, formerly called the Pontiac Rescue Mission.

It's also intended to ease the concerns of donors who now believe the
shelter houses criminals.

At the shelter last week, police arrested more than 30 people who had
outstanding warrants. All but one were for misdemeanor crimes such as
forgery, said Pontiac Police Chief Larry Miracle.

Clark calls last week's raid a "smear campaign" by the city to hurt the
shelter's plans to open a center for drug-addicted women and their children
in a nearby church. The city's planning commission has rejected those
plans, citing concerns that more homeless and transient people could
negatively affect a recent downtown resurgence of nightclubs, galleries and
offices.

But Mayor Walter Moore denies that last week's arrests -- which he and
police don't consider a raid -- had anything to do with politics.

"If there are warrants out there, we have a duty to then apprehend those
individuals," Moore said.

Moore said the city already has an abundance of rental homes, boarding
houses and mental health facilities and said other area cities need to
start helping homeless people.

The arrests were necessary to protect the welfare of women and children at
the shelter, Miracle said. Earlier this month, an undercover officer bought
drugs from a resident at the shelter, he said.

No other raids are planned, he said. "If they want to protest, that's
fine," Miracle said. "He's missing the bigger point: That's to get back to
helping the truly needy."

Clark said the raid has left children at the shelter scared to go to sleep
and prompted donors to ask to be taken off the mailing list.

"How am I going to raise $2.5 million this year to keep this mission open
with that kind of slander going on?" Clark asked. "We are about getting
people's lives back into the mainstream of society."

The walk is to start at 10 a.m. at the shelter, 35 E. Huron.

Contact SALLY TATO at 248-586-2622 or <tato@freepress.com>


SEE ALSO:
http://www.freep.com/news/latestnews/pm1778_20010123.htm
FWD  Detroit Free Press - Tuesday, January 23, 2001
     POLICE ARREST 32 AT HOMELESS SHELTER
     BY HUGH McDIARMID JR. - FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Thirty-two arrests and a firestorm of finger-pointing followed a pre-dawn
raid on a Pontiac homeless shelter Tuesday....
Using a list of names and social security numbers provided by the shelter
a week ago, police identified about 50 people with 57 outstanding criminal
warrants living at the Huron Street facility, said Police Chief Larry
Miracle.....


Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People:

***************************************************************
Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net>
Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy
***************************************************************