[Hpn] In Springfield Massachusetts, *Sanctuary [Tent] City* Folds Due Growing Cold Weather; Associated Press article; 11/28/2004

Morgan W. Brown Morgan W. Brown" <morganbrown@gmail.com
Sun, 28 Nov 2004 13:39:44 -0500


Below is a forward copy of a *must-read* article.

There is also a must-view photo available as well. Check it out at either:

Sunday, November 28, 2004
Times Argus & Rutland Herald
Associated Press article
As cold sets in, homeless look for new sanctuary:
http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041128/NEWS/411280328/1014/FEATURES05

&

http://rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041128/NEWS/411280321/1030/FEATURES15


Morgan <morganbrown@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com

-------Forwarded article-------

Sunday, November 28, 2004
Times Argus & Rutland Herald
Associated Press article
As cold sets in, homeless look for new sanctuary:
http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041128/NEWS/411280328/1014/FEATURES05

&

http://rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20041128/NEWS/411280321/1030/FEATURES15


November 28, 2004 

By ADAM GORLICK The Associated Press 


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The moving truck backed into what was left of
Sanctuary City, ready to be filled with suitcases and trash bags
overflowing with clothing, blankets and whatever else the homeless
can't carry with them for the winter.

The tents that were their homes for five months were broken down and
thrown in the trash. A bicycle with a bent frame sat unclaimed, next
to a collection of chairs with broken arms and backs.

"It's all over," said Julius Robinson, 57, who has been living for
several months in Sanctuary City — the name given to a patch of dirt
on the corner of School and Temple streets where as many as 400
homeless people at some point found shelter in the 50 or so nylon
tents that were pitched there.

>From the middle of June to early November, Sanctuary City was a refuge
from the streets and the Worthington House, Springfield's main
state-funded shelter that many complain is overcrowded and dangerous.

The encampment, which was about a 15-minute walk from City Hall and
about five miles from the affluent town of Longmeadow, went up on a
lot owned by the Open Pantry social service agency. People living
there policed themselves under a set of rules that prohibited drugs
and violence. It also fostered a sense of community where the homeless
encouraged each other to stay sober, find work and make it through
difficult times.

But the cold has forced just about everyone inside.

Winter is the most difficult and dangerous time for the homeless.
While rising temperatures during a New England summer or in warmer
parts of the country can lead to heat exposure and dehydration, the
highest death rates among the homeless are recorded in northern states
between December and March, advocates say.

Last year, at least 2,000 homeless people died in cities across the
country as a result of natural causes, hypothermia, murder or suicide,
said Michael Stoops, a community organizer for the National Coalition
for the Homeless.

Some who lived at Sanctuary City found an early escape from the cold
by landing jobs and apartments. Others are staying in a temporary
shelter called the "warming place," which they say is more tolerable
than the Worthington House.

But for many, the disbursement is just one more hassle that comes with
the rootlessness of their lives.

"We're still homeless," Robinson said.

Advocates say affordable housing is the best way to curb the kind of
chronic homelessness that results in people living on the streets or
in the types of tent encampments that have periodically sprung up in
cities from Florida to California.

Congress is considering a bill that would allocate $70 million to
states trying to start affordable housing programs for the homeless.

"The answer isn't about spending more money on shelters," said Philip
Mangano, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on
Homelessness.

"It's about rehousing the homeless."


Meanwhile, those without a place of their own must rely on shelters or
their own resources to escape harsh weather.

They filter into places like the Christ Church Cathedral, where at 6
p.m. one evening the smell of bleach and disinfectant was drying off
the basement floor.

What had been a soup kitchen dining room an hour before was now being
converted into a bedroom that could accommodate up to 75 people. With
the temperature hovering just above freezing that night, only about
half that number would show up.

Bob Plaine started covering the mopped floor with mattresses — thin,
mushy mats coated with vinyl that can be easily washed to prevent the
spread of hepatitis and other infectious diseases.

"When you volunteer here, you get some perks," Plaine said as he threw
a mattress for himself alongside a wall. The spot assured that he
wouldn't have anyone sleeping on at least one side of him. "That's
prime real estate," he said.

Plaine, 44, spent five months at Sanctuary City. He started sleeping
at the church a few weeks ago, when it opened for the winter season.

He feels safer in the temporary shelter than he would at the
Worthington House, where some have said they've been robbed,
threatened or beaten by others staying there. But like the Worthington
House, the "warming place" closes in the morning, leaving many of the
homeless with no real place to spend the day.

"Many of us fill the afternoon going to a case worker or going to a
doctor or trying to get some kind of services from an agency," Plaine
said. "Or sometimes, you're saving one of your buddies by dragging him
to a detox center."


The nomadic lifestyle that accompanies homelessness, combined with
high rates of substance abuse and mental illness that many suffer
from, often leads to other problems. Jails and courts fill up with
those caught committing petty crimes, and emergency rooms become
overwhelmed by those who have no other place to turn for even the most
basic medical care, advocates say.

"Life for the homeless is brutish and short," said John Lozier,
executive director of National Health Care for the Homeless.
"Homelessness shortens their life span by as much as 20 years."

Sanctuary City offered a reprieve from some worries, even if many of
the tents leaked despite the patches of duct tape and the blue tarps
that covered them. People tried making their places as comfortable as
possible. One woman laid out a roll of carpeting in her tent. Others
hung wind chimes and American or Puerto Rican flags over their
doorways.

A common area — complete with a small camp stove, tables and chairs —
served as a place to cook, eat and visit with social service workers,
friends and the people who regularly dropped off food, blankets and
clothing.

"We did what people never thought homeless people could do," Plaine
said. "We formed our own community and took care of it."

But with their little city dismantled, they must carry everything they
have and deal with seemingly petty problems, such as storage.

Open Pantry paid for a moving truck earlier this month to haul bundles
of clothing and other belongings to a storage facility that the agency
is renting temporarily. When the agency stops paying, individuals will
either have to pay for the storage themselves or risk having their
possessions thrown out.

"I've been hiding my stuff in the woods and around town," said
45-year-old Kevin Lynch, days before his tent came down.

Many of the homeless talk about Sanctuary City as both a place to live
and a sign of social action. Being so visible to the public increases
awareness, they figure.

And once it's warm enough to safely live outside, some believe
Sanctuary City may be back. "It's a protest. It sends a message,"
Plaine said. "People need to realize that the homeless problem isn't
just going to be swept away and disappear if they don't see our tents
anymore."

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interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@gmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
Norsehorse's Home Turf:
http://norsehorses-turf.blogspot.com