[Hpn] Re: Busted shelter's director calls fire inspection "harassment" - Pontiac MI USA (fwd) Pontiac MI USA (fwd)

a slow loris arboreal@speakeasy.org
Mon, 5 Feb 2001 16:38:58 -0800 (PST)

> officers raided the shelter at 5 a.m. for outstanding warrants,
> mostly for minor offenses.

> 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.

Probably not.

> 4) Have Pontiac officials targeted Grace Center for "harassment", as the
> mission's director claims?
Yes, clearly.  

1. the arrests. 

We've seen the statistics showing that poor people (and people of color
whether poor or rich) are disproportionately cited for minor offenses. 
It's also obvious that poor people, unable to pay fines or lawyers, are
likely to have these citations escalate into warrants for arrest. Any
raid on a shelter is guaranteed to pull in a number of such "criminals"
--thereby convincing the general public that a.] their police are on top
of enforcement and b.] shelters are hotbeds of criminal activity.  I'd
like to see a list of the reasons for the warrants!

2. the fire inspection.

The fire chief's remark that inspections should happen more frequently
but don't, suggests that--as is often the case for required inspections 
of all kinds of facilities--there is usually not sufficient staff to
make them regularly. This one is clearly in response to pressure of some
sort, not occurring routinely, and the timing is no accident.

My guess is that a coalition of local businesses/ property owners are
pressuring the city to shut down the shelter.  Protestors might try
saying that since the shelter has to go somewhere, one of the nicer
residential neighborhoods would be a good place to relocate.

Alison Loris


"All we ever have is here, now."

			Ursula K. Le Guin