Homeless Congress Notes for November 2017

In the back room of the Cosgrove Center on Wednesday, November 8th (had to reschedule from the normal Thursday time), about 45-50 folks gathered around for November’s Homeless Congress meeting. We discussed several items and then jumped into the main agenda. The main agenda items were:

  • YWCA Update on Women’s Shelter
  • Campus District Inc. Efforts

YWCA Update on Women’s Shelter

From the YWCA, we had two guests: Teresa Sanders, Vice President of Social Services Programs and Operations, and Tish Gomez, Family Engagement Specialist. Teresa Sanders gave an update on the situation with YWCA and the Women’s Shelter.

YWCA Mindset: When Teresa mentioned to someone that the YWCA was interested in running the women’s shelter, someone remarked back, “Why would you run into the burning building?” Teresa said that for her, homelessness is a social justice issue and that everyone deserves to be housed. Teresa knows that one of the goals of the women’s shelter should be to ensure women secure housing so they can stay out.

Transition: Teresa felt that the transition needed to happen smoothly. This meant that if the contract was signed by December 1st, then it would be by March that the transition would be finalized. Teresa guaranteed that shelter operations would continue during that transition period. During the transition period, Teresa will be reaching out to

Changes: Teresa outlined several potential changes which included bringing more service providers into the building, increasing the number of case managers, and regularly meeting with the women in the shelter. Teresa also suggested that the YWCA’s highly transparent culture would reduce the likelihood of there being a toxic culture in the Women’s Shelter. The YWCA will create a highly transparent grievance protocol.

Staying the Same: Despite the YWCA’s religious roots, Teresa reaffirmed that no religious programming would be imposed on the women in the shelter. Also, Teresa confirmed that the women’s shelter would remain a shelter for just women.

Campus District Inc.

From Campus District Inc. (CDI), we had two guests: Bobbi Reichtell, Executive Director, and Rachel Oscar, Community Organizer.

Bobbi spoke at length about the importance vitalizing of the neighborhoods around the CSU campus, especially because many of the homeless services are centered in this community. Bobbi spoke about the Campus District’s recent ideas to beautify some of the spaces near the shelters in the neighborhood. The area around Norma Herr was of particular concern for CDI. Taking questions from the Congress, Bobbi said that the Mayor’s office is against any type of proposal that would dislocate or move the current shelters. Several members of the congress felt that cosmetic solutions for the neighborhood would not deal with some of the deeper issues in the community. Bobbi acknowledged that beautifying the space alone would not solve all the issues. She said that CDI is serious about working to also address those other issues, but that creating a community that is more visually appealing can also play an important part in vitalizing a community