[Hpn] Homeless Gravitate Towards Public Buildings

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 5 Jun 2005 03:29:53 -0400


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dailyrepublic.com
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     Saturday, Jun 04, 2005 =20
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            Homeless gravitate toward public buildings

            By Sarah Arnquist

            FAIRFIELD - They read at the library, drink coffee at the =
senior center and on hot days they seek air-conditioned relief at the =
mall just like everybody else.

            Except they are homeless.

            Public facilities such as libraries have always been "safe =
and neutral" places for the homeless to go, said Ann Cousineau, director =
of Solano County Libraries.

            "It's kind of the nature of working in a public building," =
she said.

            In the last few years some public building directors have =
noticed an increase in homeless people using their facilities.=20

                =20
            The Continuum of Care - a Solano County task force =
designated to house the homeless - estimates that between 4,800 and =
5,000 people are homeless on any given night in Solano County, and =
12,000 people experience a period of homelessness each year.

            Fairfield used to have a day shelter for the homeless on =
West Texas Street where the Park Crossing Apartment complex is now =
located. People lounged all day at the shelter, and it created problems =
with surrounding businesses until it closed in October 2001.

            The Homeless Day Center provided basic services that =
included showers, mail, telephone, transportation, case management and =
shelter during the day.

            Mission Solano, the county's largest homeless shelter =
located in Fairfield, works closely with public offices to provide =
services to the homeless, but it does not offer a day shelter, said =
spokesman Kevin Miller.

            The Mission provides a bed, breakfast, dinner and a sack =
lunch but not a place to lounge for the day, because "if you're jobless =
and homeless, your task is really to look for a job and a home," Miller =
said.

            Those not inclined to search for a job spend their days in =
public parks and buildings.

            The Fairfield Senior Center is a public building where many =
homeless seek refuge. Facility Director Ted Stine said more homeless =
people are using the facility now than a few years ago. Six months ago =
some people were living around the center, but that has ended and for =
the most part there are no problems, Stine said.

            John Young, 74, spends most of his days playing pool and =
socializing at the senior center. Young raised his concerns at the last =
Senior Advocacy Committee meeting that more homeless people are using =
the facility. Committee president Jo-Ann Fenton reminded him that the =
senior center is open to all, including the homeless.

            "This is a public building and if they are seniors they are =
to have access to this building, but they are to abide by the same =
rules," Fenton said.

            Young said he paid taxes all his adult life and also pays =
for many of the services at the senior center. It irks him to see =
homeless people abusing services at the senior center, he said. For the =
most part, Young said, though, they do not create many problems.

            The community should understand that homeless people do =
read, and there are homeless seniors, Miller said. As long as they do =
not bother people, they have the right to access those community =
services available to them, he said.

            "You kind of have an issue of people's personal comfort =
zones," Miller said. "If it is a loitering problem then you have a =
police issue."

            Mission Solano wants the community to send people who need =
services to the shelter, Miller said. Mission Solano has a full mail =
service and a phone available to the homeless for outgoing calls and =
takes incoming calls as messages.

            Libraries are open to the whole community - for those with =
and without homes, Cousineau said. On any given day, four to five =
homeless people might be in the Fairfield library, and as long as they =
abide by the same rules that apply to the general public they are =
welcome, she said.

            "We don't turn them away," Cousineau said.

            Reach Sarah Arnquist at 427-6953 or =
sarnquist@dailyrepublic.net.
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          <TD><SPAN class=3DarticleDate>Saturday, Jun 04, 2005 =
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            <P><SPAN class=3Dheadline>Homeless gravitate toward public=20
            buildings</SPAN></P>
            <P><SPAN class=3Dbyline>By Sarah Arnquist</SPAN></P>
            <P class=3DbodyText>FAIRFIELD - They read at the library, =
drink coffee=20
            at the senior center and on hot days they seek =
air-conditioned=20
            relief at the mall just like everybody else.<BR><BR>Except =
they are=20
            homeless.<BR><BR>Public facilities such as libraries have =
always=20
            been "safe and neutral" places for the homeless to go, said =
Ann=20
            Cousineau, director of Solano County Libraries.<BR><BR>"It's =
kind of=20
            the nature of working in a public building," she =
said.<BR><BR>In the=20
            last few years some public building directors have noticed =
an=20
            increase in homeless people using their facilities. </P>
            <TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D5 width=3D5 =
align=3Dright border=3D0>
              <TBODY>
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                <TD align=3Dmiddle><!-- AdSys ad not found for =
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            <P class=3DbodyText>The Continuum of Care - a Solano County =
task force=20
            designated to house the homeless - estimates that between =
4,800 and=20
            5,000 people are homeless on any given night in Solano =
County, and=20
            12,000 people experience a period of homelessness each=20
            year.<BR><BR>Fairfield used to have a day shelter for the =
homeless=20
            on West Texas Street where the Park Crossing Apartment =
complex is=20
            now located. People lounged all day at the shelter, and it =
created=20
            problems with surrounding businesses until it closed in =
October=20
            2001.<BR><BR>The Homeless Day Center provided basic services =
that=20
            included showers, mail, telephone, transportation, case =
management=20
            and shelter during the day.<BR><BR>Mission Solano, the =
county's=20
            largest homeless shelter located in Fairfield, works closely =
with=20
            public offices to provide services to the homeless, but it =
does not=20
            offer a day shelter, said spokesman Kevin Miller.<BR><BR>The =
Mission=20
            provides a bed, breakfast, dinner and a sack lunch but not a =
place=20
            to lounge for the day, because "if you're jobless and =
homeless, your=20
            task is really to look for a job and a home," Miller=20
            said.<BR><BR>Those not inclined to search for a job spend =
their days=20
            in public parks and buildings.<BR><BR>The Fairfield Senior =
Center is=20
            a public building where many homeless seek refuge. Facility =
Director=20
            Ted Stine said more homeless people are using the facility =
now than=20
            a few years ago. Six months ago some people were living =
around the=20
            center, but that has ended and for the most part there are =
no=20
            problems, Stine said.<BR><BR>John Young, 74, spends most of =
his days=20
            playing pool and socializing at the senior center. Young =
raised his=20
            concerns at the last Senior Advocacy Committee meeting that =
more=20
            homeless people are using the facility. Committee president =
Jo-Ann=20
            Fenton reminded him that the senior center is open to all, =
including=20
            the homeless.<BR><BR>"This is a public building and if they =
are=20
            seniors they are to have access to this building, but they =
are to=20
            abide by the same rules," Fenton said.<BR><BR>Young said he =
paid=20
            taxes all his adult life and also pays for many of the =
services at=20
            the senior center. It irks him to see homeless people =
abusing=20
            services at the senior center, he said. For the most part, =
Young=20
            said, though, they do not create many problems.<BR><BR>The =
community=20
            should understand that homeless people do read, and there =
are=20
            homeless seniors, Miller said. As long as they do not bother =
people,=20
            they have the right to access those community services =
available to=20
            them, he said.<BR><BR>"You kind of have an issue of people's =

            personal comfort zones," Miller said. "If it is a loitering =
problem=20
            then you have a police issue."<BR><BR>Mission Solano wants =
the=20
            community to send people who need services to the shelter, =
Miller=20
            said. Mission Solano has a full mail service and a phone =
available=20
            to the homeless for outgoing calls and takes incoming calls =
as=20
            messages.<BR><BR>Libraries are open to the whole community - =
for=20
            those with and without homes, Cousineau said. On any given =
day, four=20
            to five homeless people might be in the Fairfield library, =
and as=20
            long as they abide by the same rules that apply to the =
general=20
            public they are welcome, she said.<BR><BR>"We don't turn =
them away,"=20
            Cousineau said.<BR><BR>Reach Sarah Arnquist at 427-6953 or =
<A=20
            =
href=3D"mailto:sarnquist@dailyrepublic.net">sarnquist@dailyrepublic.net</=
A>.</P></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></TD><!-- Inside Column Three -->
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