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?

Community Organizing

  • 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?

Transit Locations

  • 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?

Public Action

  • 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.?

Current Services

  • 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?

Next Steps

  • 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.