Harvest from Community Conversation on Homelessness
February 12, 2018
Suggestions for Housing
- Reduce violations/occupancy rules so people can stay with extended family (6)
- City change landlord licensing – encourage flexibility
- Risk mitigation funds
- Provide short-term leases, opportunities to establish rental history/stable housing
- Change strict rental criteria
- Reduce rental, offer vouchers
- Bigger affordable housing units for large immigrant families
- Little houses (2)
- Granny flats
- Extended stay hotels?
- Build affordable housing on vacant St. Paul land (4)
- Roommate matching services to allow people to live with others to afford rent
- Higher Ground and Dorothy Day are a part of a solution to the needs of the homeless. Yes, only a part, many cannot afford to be there or not comfortable in that large setting.
- The George Latimer Library personnel welcomes and treats homeless patrons respectfully as does the Downtown YMCA.
- Homeless generosity (Wed. at the library)
Suggestions for funding allocations
- Dedicate ESG for capital development, use funds from COC for services
- More local resources
- Share the funds with smaller places.
- Landlord mitigation and funding
Legal/Police issues to explore
- Expunge records/remove U.D and other records (allow for people to start over)
- Not allow sleeping on park benches (2)
- Not allow camping in parks/ Have police do more patrols (2)
- Extra patrolling in Mears and Rice park (2)
- Police transit: discomfort, robberies
- Decriminalize personal guarantees on drugs
- Not allow firing for people with mental illnesses
- Eviction hotline in neighborhoods at-risk (minorities) to call to avoid or mitigate homelessness
- Rate degrees of criminality, so small offenses don’t count the same as large ones
- Women don’t feel safe walking at night
- Need for policy changes
- Statewide initiative that focuses on addressing systematic courses of homelessness, dealing w/ homelessness when it occurs, and funding/efforts to eliminate it
Suggestions for improved Shelters
- $100 Million to house 300+ people is a lot
- More workforce help in all shelters
- Make them open during the day, so homeless people don’t have to go to library or stay on the streets
- Don’t limit listening house to 20 people per day (more city support) (2)
- Have representatives from shelters at typical homeless camp locations/street outreach (3)
- More flexible hours
- New models to allow for more and better connections (members of an encampment could be roommates, shelters that allow couples, storage, etc.)
- Places for youth to go/rec center (4)
- Gap in services for children aged 13-17 (if they don’t get parents’ permission to stay at a shelter and away from abuse)
- Ask people how they feel about the services
- Easier access to services/put resources at Union Depot & Parks (3)
- Adjust rules and requirements restricting people from coming to shelters
- Give Listening House a chance to survive and serve in their new home. They are now serving a new neighborhood.
- Beginning in April, the limit of serving 20 guests at a time is not reasonable. City Council please rethink about respectful treatment of our homeless.
What can leaders in Government do?
- Figure out how to work better with district councils to encourage development of rental units (2)
- Establish clear goals around percentages of units in the city/county dedicated to serving homeless or affordable rentals
- Make numbers that go directly to police officers available for public to use when there is drug use, property being damaged, someone hurt (2)
- Good support/keeping in contact to make sure people are doing well
- More outreach/flyers in park and/or popular sports where homeless people typically go (2)
- Make park benches only long enough for 2 people to sit on
- Inform public of the extent of the homeless problem (75% of homeless are youth)
- Pick up litter/fines for littering/signs at trash cans (4)
- Do not let people leave stuff out for homeless
- Inform public about: red button on light rail, text all, transit station assistance, downtown pages #, homeless centers
- Remember, downtown St. Paul is a neighborhood, St. Paul City Council please treat us as a neighborhood.
- Offer work/business mentorship assistance
- Befriender programs with homeless
- More case workers to help people in need
- Expand Pedro Park
- Create group similar to DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) groups to help youth
- Add activities that promote self-participation
- Have 24/7 public bathrooms (5)
- Give incentives to employees and real estate people to take more people
- Address expungement
- Buy old pioneer press building for housing
- Reinvest in services for mentally ill or developmentally disabled
- Offer resources to give to people
- Add people/vitality to the skyways.
- Keep skyway restaurants open longer.
- Train the public about homelessness and how to interact with homeless individuals.
- Expand street outreach services.
- Provide public education on homelessness – including recognizing individuals as humans as a way to de-escalate encounters. NAMI might help.
- Determine ways to measure your success in ending homelessness
- The City should make the medians and traffic islands no-loitering zones.
- The City should level Cleveland Circle and make it police / emergency vehicle parking only.
How can citizens get involved?
- Change Perceptions of homelessness (4)
- Don’t give money to panhandlers, share info card about services or give winter items/snacks
- Have community/neighborhood training by NAMI or People Inc. on understanding mental illnesses and responses
- People concerned with loitering in parks, skyways, and libraries during the day
- Homelessness affects downtown life experience: littering, sleeping on benches, panhandling, trespassing, safety, drug usage, no community downtown (2)
- Create environment where people can talk about things together
- Accept diversity and homelessness comes with that diversity
- Help people in “unstable” housing from becoming homeless
- Vending machines for needs of homeless
- Find ways to acknowledge “one size fits all” doesn’t work for everyone
- Corporate owners are anxious to fill a room
- State hospital closed, cardboard signs started
- It’s okay to give people asking for money a dollar.
- Use the red button on the buses/trains if you have an issue.
- Call out the skyway number if you know it when asking for police services.
- Educate the public on safety issues downtown, and about interacting with individuals who are homeless or have a mental health disorder.
Question and Answer
For Law Enforcement
- # to call when I see someone in distress?
- Is panhandling illegal? (2)
- Why are officers on Segway’s?
- Can individuals panhandle in the skyways?
- How should neighbors appropriately respond to homeless people in skyways, streets? (3)
- How many people are homeless because of criminal records?
- When we see open drug and alcohol use in parks do we call police? (3)
- What should we do when we’re in the skyway and we see something happen?
- Can the City do something about the dealers in Cleveland Circle?
- Should we give money? Does it help or hurt? (2)
- Coordinate community trash pick-ups in parks?
- Is it possible for non-law enforcement City staff to cite individuals for minor conduct in City parks like Mears Park?
- How can public schools deal with homeless children and offer them opportunities to succeed?
- What are the hours of the vertical access tower / central station?
- Can metro transit shelters be made warmer and lighter?
- Can the City or Metro Transit provide safe and warm places for people to wait for their bus?
- What is the number for Metro Transit?
Impact of Homelessness
- What percent of homeless are minorities?
- What is the link between research on homeless volume and efforts to create enough housing?
- What are the costs of living at higher ground? (How much does each person have to pay?)
- U.S. census? What does it tell us?
- Are we incentivizing bad choices?
- How do we prevent trauma to prevent homelessness?
- Has anyone ever researched developing a contained environment for those who want to live/work in cooking, cleaning, daycare, gardening, etc.?
- How are costs shared among shelters?
- What is considered affordable housing?
- What are facilities for families and youth?
- Why are all services downtown? (2)
- Are shelters safe if you have social anxiety?
- How do we change the mindset of homeless youth to be able to trust adults?
- How do you make people who got assistance accountable?
- Will the new facility for the homeless attract the homeless? Efforts to attract?
- Can there be more cameras in the skyways?
- How does concentrating shelters downtown contribute to the number of homeless people downtown?
- Why Help?
- Why be concerned about homeless if they don't seem to want to change?
- Have you or anyone in your family, experienced homelessness in the past decade? What are the degrees of separation from being homeless?
Resources- Volunteer opportunities- Donations
- List opportunities for volunteerism and donations
- Downtown Beat Paper: 651-229-1994, 7 am – 1 am, leave message, non 911 help
- Call the SPPD downtown beat pager number at 651-229-1994 if you need police safety services.
- Call the Metro Transit Police Department at 612-900-0411 to report issues on buses/trains/metro stations.