San Luis Obispo’s homeless barred from services

April 19, 2013

homeless11By JOSH FRIEDMAN, KAREN VELIE and DANIEL BLACKBURN

Scores of homeless, barred from Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s homeless services, spend their days begging for food, looking for shelter and avoiding city police who target them.

CAPSLO receives more than $60 million in government funding and support each year to provide services to those in need, including San Luis Obispo’s homeless population. But, the homeless are required to follow a set of rules imposed under the tenure of Dee Torres, homeless services coordinator. If the homeless don’t follow the rules, they are suspended or barred from receiving help.

Peggy Fowler, a former 20-year employee CAPSO’s homeless services, says the refusal to provide food to homeless barred from services is not only cruel, but also increases the likelihood someone will resort to stealing in order to eat.

“Suspensions from homeless services are for violation of the rules which include throwing a cigarette butt on the ground or arriving five minutes early,” Fowler said. “I felt that making someone sleep in the dirt for failing to do a chore is wrong.”

The rules include a ban on giving food to homeless persons who have been suspended from the program, entering the Prado Day Center through the driveway on foot and failing to control the physical tics and other behaviors resulting from medical conditions or mental illnesses.

If a homeless person fails to follow Torres’ rules, she bars them from receiving meals and a place to sleep and shower, according to the program’s rules and dozens of citations CCN staff have viewed. Many of those barred are refused services for months or years because they are unable to make it through a laborious readmission process Torres has put into place, Fowler said.

“The individuals who are homeless have priorities like, ‘where can I go to the bathroom,’ ” Fowler said. “We are withholding services that are paid for by both the federal government and the local community. Their whole system and lack of recourse is not right. The punishment of refusing food and shelter is pretty severe considering the rules broken.”

Erica Merchado has received several suspensions from CAPSLO’s homeless services, despite having a terminal illness, former 30-year employee Estella Bonds said.

Merchado, 32, has Huntington’s disease, which causes her arms to make constant involuntary movements. She was diagnosed with Huntington’s when she was 21 and entered CAPSLO’s homeless services two years later, Merchado said. Merchado utilized the services for more than five years.

CAPSLO last suspended Merchado about three years ago for taking her lunch out of the Prado Day Center to the bus stop on Prado Road, Merchado said. Staff also suspended her for taking food from the day center to a suspended homeless client, Bonds said.

Merchado now sleeps under the Madonna Bridge and spends much of her day sitting outside Circle K on South Higuera Street with other homeless who beg for food.

One rule strictly enforced by CAPSLO prohibits the homeless from coming within an eighth of a mile, or 660 feet, of the Prado Day Center between 4 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. and within an eighth of a mile of the Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter between 7:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. Torres enforces the policy because her employees are afraid of the homeless, so she wants the homeless out of the area when employees are coming and going, she said.

If a staff member sees a homeless person, or even property belonging to a homeless person in the restricted area during those hours, it results in a suspension from services, according to CAPSLO rules. While suspended from services, the homeless can still incur more penalties. Many short suspensions compound into longtime bans, said Joette Sunshine, a former employee of homeless services who worked there for four years.

When a homeless person is suspended from services, that person is only allowed to enter the eighth of a mile zone surrounding both the day center and night shelter during one 15-minute time slot each day. If a homeless client wants obtain a print out of violations committed or acquire an application to re-enter services, the person must get in and out of the day center restricted area between 11:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and the night shelter restricted area between 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Failure to do so triggers an additional 30-day suspension.

Michael Pryor, an out-of-work computer technician and a former singer, received a 30-day suspension for cheating CAPSLO’s lottery system in an attempt to secure a bed in the shelter on a rainy night. Pryor used a ticket from an earlier night that someone had given him, and CAPSLO staff caught him.

Though Pryor received only a 30-day suspension, he is now suspended from services for 270 days because CAPSLO employees have spotted him within an eighth of a mile of the day center and night shelter outside of the 15-minute time slots, Pryor said.

Pryor sleeps outside. One day, he went to the shelter on a cold, rainy night to ask staff for a blanket. CAPSLO staff refused him a blanket and instead gave him an additional 30-day suspension for entering the restricted area.

Tiamoyo Peterson quit working for CAPSLO’s homeless services several years ago after taking her concerns of the treatment of the homeless to CAPLO’s CEO Elizabeth Steinberg, Peterson said.

Peterson, who has two masters degrees and a doctorate in social psychology, said she became concerned when Torres kicked out a homeless woman in her late 20s because the client was not always able to control her schizophrenia and would be obnoxious at times.

“It was (CAPSLO’s) position that Dee had a valid point of view and I shouldn’t have contradicted her,” Peterson said. “In this instance, the client’s behavior was obnoxious not dangerous. Dee believes that not only can a schizophrenic control their behavior, but that they should be punished when they cannot. Punishment for mental illness is inappropriate.”

Steinberg promoted Torres to the top position in homeless services around the same time a countywide Homeless Services Oversight Council was created.

In 2008, Torres’ boyfriend San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill became the founding chair of the Homeless Services Oversight Council, a group with a plan to end homelessness in 10 years by promoting a 200-bed shelter to be managed by Torres. Those staying at the shelter are to be required to give 50 to 70 percent of their income to case management allegedly to be used to get them into housing.

Several law enforcement agencies are looking into allegations that those managing the required savings accounts have been misappropriating the funds.

Together with San Luis Obispo City Councilman John Ashbaugh, Hill and Torres have worked to have the city and the police increase enforcement against homeless who refuse to enter case management.

Both Ashbaugh and Hill have regularly voted to provide government funding to CAPSLO. Ashbaugh sits on the CAPSLO board of directors and Hill is engaged to Torres but both men say there is no conflict of interest.

Earlier this year, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to have police increase ticketing of homeless who do not participate in case management.

The SLO Downtown Association recently asked those in favor of supporting CAPSLO’s homeless services’ programs and who want the city to dedicate two police officers to focus on transients downtown to sign an online petition.

The city’s police department recently chose to implement a Community Action Team (CAT), composed of two officers who focus on transients in San Luis Obispo. Several local law enforcement personnel who say it is not constitutional to focus on a group of people and not their actions are referring to CAT as “Cops Against Transients.”

San Luis Obispo Chief of Police Steve Gesell says his department neither categorizes people, nor enforces the law based on status.

“We are trying to enforce the law equally but it would be foolish of us not to understand the dynamic of the homeless transient population,” Gesell said.

In 2012, San Luis Obispo police officers cited 605 people for breaking Penal Code 647(e) which makes it a misdemeanor to “lodge in any building, structure, vehicle or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or the person entitled to the possession or in control of it.” In the rest of the county, only one person was cited for breaking Penal Code 647(e) in 2012, according to records requests received from all community and county law enforcement agencies.

Gesell says his department is utilizing 647(e) as a way to combat the environmental impact human waste from homeless campers has on the community. He refers to those homeless not utilizing CAPSLO’s services as program resistant.

SLO police officers are giving 647(e) citations to homeless found sleeping in parks, on benches or anywhere throughout the city. They also routinely roust homeless, including Merchado, who sit outside Circle K, even though customers of the convenience store and the adjacent Subway sandwich shop frequently buy them food.

On April 11, former CAPSLO employee Estella Bonds visited Merchado outside Circle K, and when a police officer arrived he not only scolded Merchado, but Bonds too.

Officer Eric Lincoln ordered Bonds to leave and told Merchado, “Come on, Erica. You know better.”

“If they’re running a homeless shelter, they’re not going to make any money,” Lincoln said. “They call. I come — kind of like the Domino’s Pizza Guy.”

Bonds told Officer Lincoln that she was not homeless and he stopped ordering her to leave the area.

Defending CAPSLO’s rules and penalties, Torres and Hill said at a SLO City Council meeting last year that homeless people need structure and management. After the meeting, former Councilman Andrew Carter said that the rule against being on Prado Road should be followed to discourage homeless from bothering business owners.

 


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bobfromsanluis

Gee, I’m sure glad we have Dee Torres standing a firm watch on the behavior of the homeless; you know, you just cannot let them act any way they want, they might just get “uppity” or something similar. /end snark


Holy cr@p; this woman has got to go, period. It appears that Ms. Torres is an extremist in her zeal to control any and all aspects of behavior concerning the homeless in San Luis Obispo; one could argue that her tactics are that of someone who does not want to deal with the very people her agency is designed to help and benefit. How any person (including elected officials) can support the actions of Ms. Torres is beyond my comprehension.


Cindy

I’ve been hearing about this woman for at least the last three years. As a homeless advocate I hear many stories about the plight of the homeless especially the ones accessing the SLO shelter. When I initially started hearing about her, I had a difficult time believing it and gave her the benefit of the doubt. She “comes off” in public as a kind compassionate person but behind the scenes, those who know and work with her say she is outright cruel and has a disdain for the very people she is paid to serve. How many of us would laugh after we caused a helpless adult human being to cry? An employee stated exactly that, that she makes homeless people cry and then she laughs about it and makes fun of them. There are just too many complaints from too many sources from all walks of life for me not to take notice. There are doctor’s, lawyers, employees, volunteers and of course those who are designated the least credibility, the homeless themselves. They can’t all be making this stuff up and it’s starting to become a very real concern especially now that I’ve heard more reports about her personal use of gift cards and even from another credible person who she paid with shelter gift cards for personal, clearly “personal” favors. She knows what I’m talking about, just not which favors. What a sad excuse for a servant she is in my opinion.


She WILL BE removed and investigated, it’s just going to take sometime considering the cronies who have circled the wagons. BTW CAPSLO – You don’t really think that we believe you’re protecting her because you think she is upstanding in her duties. We know why you’re protecting her, yes, your own misdeeds have recently come to light. You will be investigated too and when it’s over, I suspect that CAPSLO as it currently operates will be no more.


Cindy

P.S. Sorry to be so vague in some of my assertions, I would like to reveal the exact wrong doings that I’ve recently become aware of but I don’t want to see any other whistle blowers receive attorney threats at this time and like I said, she knows who she paid with gift cards so too much information will reveal who is talking. The facts have all been reported to the right authorities, that you can be rest assured of.


karma2come

Wow, I must admit your post leaves me with many questions! I hope you are correct about how things will go down because it’s way past time for change to happen! Ms Torres has reigned her terror of the homeless long enough! I realize things take time, but it didn’t seem to take this long with terminating those who attempted to let CAPSLO know Ms Torres was inappropriate in her actions of leadership. What does she hold over CAPSLO that they allow this to continue? Personally I would think a real investigation leading to the termination of Ms Torres and a public apology for allowing things to go on for so long would give CAPSLO a start in rebuilding community support!


Alaska64

Yes!


Homer

Grab the pitchforks!


kettle

No pitchforks..


karma2come

So Homer, you think an investigation calls for pitch forks?


Myself

Lets see, TAXPAYER dollars are given to an organization to help the homeless, instead they make up BS rules to keep the homeless off the property, these are the people that they are paid to help, I think capslo needs to be run out of town for their treatment of the homeless, and yet they want opt build a 200 bed shelter, anyone that would vote for something like this would have to be out of their mind.

I said it last week and got all shot up, use the back side of Cuesta Collage for a homeless camp, get these people the medical attention they need, keep them off the streets and make something out of them, it would be cheaper than giving money to capslo to not do their job.


Pelican1

Is there a method by which we the public can petition the Grand Jury to get involved? Too many claims. too many charges, and not enough answers.


Kevin Rice

Yes, there is.


http://slocourts.net/grand_jury/forms


However, the civil Grand Jury’s term ends on June 30. It’s too late in the year for the current jury to start a new investigation. You could submit complaints now, but it could be more effective to wait until July 1.


unlisted

Your link didn’t work for me. Here’s the correct one:


http://slocourt.info/grand_jury


The funny thing is that Google listed the website ats a “.net,” but linked to “.info.” Go figure?


MaryMalone

QUOTING THE ARTICLE: “When a homeless person is suspended from services, that person is only allowed to enter the eighth of a mile zone surrounding both the day center and night shelter during one 15-minute time slot each day. If a homeless client wants obtain a print out of violations committed or acquire an application to re-enter services, the person must get in and out of the day center restricted area between 11:00 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and the night shelter restricted area between 7:00 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. Failure to do so triggers an additional 30-day suspension.


It seems to me that Dee Torres is purposely setting the specifications for dealing with being denied services so high that the homeless client won’t be readmitted to the program.


When the homeless client is denied services for something like dropping a cigarette but, is the government funds from SSI or whatever given to them so the client may provide for themselves?


If the client does get their government funds returned to them, are case-management charges still deducted from it?


All discussion of a new shelter must stop now. Until CAPSLO can find a REAL homeless services coordinator, and not just settle for someone whose main qualification is sleeping with a member of the SLOCo board of supervisors, it is unacceptable to build another facility where from which she can harass our homeless people.


ReelView

There’s something they don’t mention. The homeless services bans or suspends many for not following the rules. One of them is that you cannot sign in while under the influence…either alcohol or drugs, including prescription meds. Except that many of the Prado clients, leave the property, head for the bus stop on Prado Rd. to smoke their pot. When done, they return to the Prado Day Center Property….high! High is under the influence right? Well some are allowed on the property at lunch time drunk as a skunk! Go figure!


leatherpink

All you have to do is reduce the social services more and more where the homeless can’t get any more free stuff, they’ll finally leave San Luis Obispo, which is what the locals want. Get rid of them, they are destroying our town.

Also the new signs all around San Luis Obispo on “no sleeping in your vehicles” is effective, it’s working. Many homeless trailers have left town and for good but there is some they continue to live here that are not locals.


CAPSLO and Community Health Centers and etc, just reduce the free services and we can get our town back to normal again. I am really if it weren’t for Sunset Magazine, Oprah Winfrey telling people to live here in San Luis because it’s so happy and we end up with 3000 plus homeless people shortly after from all over the United States then San Luis Obispo gets attacked with homeless all over the place. And for attorneys Steward Jerkins & Saro Rizzo to profit off suing the City because the problems the City is having, I mean come on.


We need to slowly eliminate the social services that homeless people continue to depend on such as SLO food stamp programs, SLO Community Health Centers, Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter and etc. You offer them less and less then they will move on to the next town and etc.


If they panhandle, don’t give them anything. All they’ll do is buy beer & cigarettes and they’ll be back tomorrow doing the same thing. So there is no solution to panhandling unless they find work and get into a permanent home but they won’t.


To fix San Luis Obispo just call the SLO PD if you see people sleeping in their vehicles after 10pm, they will get the message and if you see them drinking or aggressive panhandling, just call the police. If you read the police log daily, 35%+ of the crimes in San Luis Obispo are caused by the homeless alone, so that said should alarm us that something needs to be done and the solution is, reduce all their services.


MaryMalone

And after “we” get rid of our homeless residents, what would be your next target? The mentally ill? How about any of the ethnic groups–are they to be your next target?


It is people with heartless attitudes towards those who have less and need help that are casting a pall on our county. I suggest we round all of THEM up and ship them out of town.


mkaney

Some people just really don’t “get it.” They imagine a world in which there is nothing uncomfortable, troublesome, or unclean. It probably has something to do with the vision of “Heaven” the churches sell: pure. white. clean, safe, always happy, no unforgiven sinners. Only blind arrogant insecure fools don’t realize that heaven is right here and they should find some appreciation for the things they don’t like but can’t change, problems, challenges, accidents, disasters, birth, deaths, differences etc. because it’s all part of the design. Apparently they think they are smarter than whatever god they claim to worship and can improve upon the design.


Those are the people that should really be rounded up. But ironically, they aren’t, because the rest of us aren’t the kind of people who are so sure we’re better and right that we marginalize them. Ah well, that’s how it goes!


mkaney

It appears the fascists are out in full force this morning. Very well then, let the cleansing of undesirables begin.


MaryMalone

Let us start with the fascists.


obispan

The homeless are the equivalent to an ethnic group? I’ll leave it to you to identify the ethnic group(s) as I have no such predjudice(s).


The Gimlet Eye

Give them a one-way-ticket to Las Vegas.


ReelView

ya know Leatherpink, you are really wishywashy! I have a better idea, why don’t we just all shoot the homeless?!! Then all of the Citys’ trouble is over with!!! For Good!


karma2come

I think what you don’t realize is a large number in the population of homeless are born and long time residents of this county. Our county isn’t cheap to live in, and people leave all the time, people who are housed. We don’t offer anything more than other counties in the social service area, maybe even less than other counties offer. Services for Homeless are better in other areas, as is the amount of help people receive. What keeps people here is their connection to the community, family or friends. They don’t stay because we offer so much! The amount of people who get any type of help doesn’t even come close to the amount of homeless we have. SLO county has a serious problem, and the person in charge of providing services has even more problems!


OnTheOtherHand

I honestly don’t know the truth about this. I have heard stories to the contrary. I am sure that there are many homeless with local roots but what is the proportion? Does anyone have any actual facts to support the argument on either side?


NuVo

Yes these statistics are recorded in the form of quartley reports that are submitted to the city and county. As for being able to get them you might have to submit a request for public records to them.


karma2come

The 2011 homeless enumeration states:

This is not a transient population. Sixty-five percent had been in San Luis Obispo County for over 5 years; another 20% have been here over 1 year. Thirty-eight percent were originally from the county; 31% had family or friends in the County. It was also a fairly educated group, with a third having completed high school and another 39% having some or completed college.


unlisted

It’s our wonderful climate, pink.


Why be homeless in the central valley heat, when you can sleep under the stars in SLO?


obispan

Sunset Magazine is responsible for the homeless in SLO? I did not see that article.


SloTownMan

Santa Maria, Santa Barbara & Monterey are much friendlier to the panhandlers. I would be happy to provide some One-Way bus tickets. Problem solved.


kayaknut

Would the tickets be available to Mr Hill and Ms Torres?


ShootTheMessenger

Let me get this straight….


The City of San Luis went to great lengths and expense to pass ordinances banning the homeless from parking and sleeping overnight in their vehicles


The SLO Downtown Association has asked for more police enforcement to keep the homeless out .


CAPSLO has made available only 5 overnight spots for the homeless at a ridiculous and absurd high cost to taxpayers.


Family Ties/CAPSLO demands a majority of the homeless income to provide case management then either mismanages that money or won’t return it at all.


CAPSO allegedly takes in donations for the homeless and either keeps it for themselves or charges the homeless for those items.


CAPSO has a budget near $60 million with a mission to help those less fortunate yet the people that work for CAPSLO are making a fortune.


The homeless shelter has many rules and regulations created by one individual that are designed to keep the homeless out of the homeless shelter.


AND NOW THEY WANT TO BUILD A $2 MILLION DOLLAR HOMELESS FACILITY THAT WILL PROBABLY HOUSE ONLY THE STAFF!


kayaknut

The staff will likely have their offices on the top floor and a private elevator to be as far away from the little people they serve.


They took the idea from the BOS.


ReelView

Sorry, it’s not the taxpayers who are paying to park at the Prado Day Center, it is the clients who have to fork over 70% +$12 or more a month to park there. Since dinner is not served at Prado, the clients, with the little money they have left, have to provide dinner themselves.


The problem is with CAPSLO not providing shelter and food to those who are really in need of it!!!


Who should get a bed first?…a young able bodied- 19 year old man, or a 66 year old retiree, lady, who is sick, but instead has to sleep in the rain and freezing cold? Is there not something wrong with that picture? That is a true story.


Remember, many of the homeless are retired. People who worked all their lives, but now are left with nothing, and cannot afford rent.


kettle

ReelView says: “Sorry, it’s not the taxpayers who are paying to park at the Prado Day Center, it is the clients who have to fork over 70% +$12 or more a month to park there.”


70% unless it’s social security, $2000 max….


“Remember, many of the homeless are retired. People who worked all their lives, but now are left with nothing, and cannot afford rent.”


Yes remember Cliff Anderson cut off from his well earned benefits because of the illegal case management requirements (capslo required him to use family ties, he had no choice). Last I heard he (without capslo “help”) was still struggling to get his payments started again. Keyword’s Elder Abuse.


Cliff Anderson is the canary in the capslo coalmine. Shame.


OnTheOtherHand

You don’t have it all straight.


For instance, CAPSLO’s budget for homeless services is more like $2-$3 million per year, not $60+ million. (I understand your confusion — Josh, Karen and Dan keep using the $60+M figure in what I can only see as an attempt to sensationalize their reporting.) The other funds they have are dedicated to other programs (mostly Head Start) and legally can’t be diverted to use for helping the homeless. This makes me question the accuracy of some of their other claims although I don’t have the facts to dispute them. IF the claims of routine over-reaction to violation of nit-picking rules are accurate, there may be some validity to their other points but I now wonder how objective that reporting is too.


Having dealt with a couple of homeless people on a personal level, I can tell you that it is not an easy thing to do at times. I feel sorry for their situation but I have seen how dishonest, irrational and/or manipulative some can be. Separating those out from the ones who are honest and reasonable could present some huge difficulties and dealing with their “problems” may be beyond the ability/budget of CAPSLO. Do they cut short help for others to deal with those that cause trouble for whatever reason?


I suspect that there is no easy and affordable solution to helping all the homeless in the community. Even if there are funds available, will better care just result in attracting more from areas that are less accommodating? Perhaps someone with a better knowledge of the situation — and a realistic understanding of the economics of it — can provide some positive suggestions about how to solve the problems rather than just complain about the situation as it exists.


Homer

A clear-eyed comment that includes facts and a realistic appreciation that the issues involved are complicated.


obispan

So in-light of your comment the public has no right whatsoever to any accounting for the expenditure of public funds?


kettle

Ontheotherhand this statement is correct:

“CAPSO has a budget near $60 million with a mission to help those less fortunate yet the people that work for CAPSLO are making a fortune.”


He never said 60 mill is spent on the homeless, punctuation is important.


Reality Check

Police Chief Gesell and his officers have a much more difficult job than some may think. CAPSLO is causing homeless to be forced to panhandle because of their draconian punishments for small infractions. The City Council, CAPSLO and the business and homeowners all pressure the police. Chief Gesell is caught in a throny political snarl. The police and the homeless are the collateral damage of CAPSLO’s arrogant, flagrant mismanagement.


Again, I say, CAPSLO is the root cause of these problems:

1) CAPSLO demands homeless give CAPSLO 50% – 70% of their income to CAPSLO. That is so wrong and, yet CAPSLO and governmental agencies that support CAPSLO financially say it’s ok.

2) The rules: Yes rules are needed any where people congrgate, but are the rules published and fair?

a)They place extreme punishments on the homeless for minor infractions of “rules”. Has there been some research into what punishments are appropriate in corrolation to the infraction? Is the punishment appropriate for certain categories of clients. For example, a parent applies rules and punishments differently for a 5 year old than for a 15 year old. These clients / homeless are PAYING for these case management services. Why is CAPSLO not using generally accepted case management and social behavior modification practices?

b) Is there a big poster somewhere reminding the homeless of these rules? Are punishments for breaking a rule clearly posted? Businesses all must post the employment law rules in an accessible and visible place. Why not CAPSLO?

c) Are the rules reasonable? Are the rules reasonable within the context of the shelter and day center role and responsibilites to their clients (the homeless). Are the rules reasonable for the specific category of client? Huntington’s disease, mental disabilites, etc may limit a client’s understanding and ability to comply. On the other hand, able bodied, persons without health and mental issues may be held to a different standard.

3) As a human resources issue, why does CAPSLO hire staff who fear the homeless? If someone fears the homeless or dislikes the homeless or has other negative attitudes about the homeless, DON’T hire them. That would negate any need for the restrictions on homeless being restricted from being near the shelter, day center during certain times of the day.


The mismanagement and arrogance is appalling! CAPSLO has achieved a monopoly on much of the services to homeless, elderly, children and others. CAPSLO gets more programs and more money when that organization obviously gives only lip service to humanitarian service and fails to operate to a satisfactory standard.


CAPSLO has no incentive to respond to the public or the media. SLO City and County are aiding and abetting CAPSLO with additional programs and money. CAPSLO appears to be riding the storm and repeating their mantra that the complainers are mentally unbalanced or disgruntled former employees.


As long as CAPSLO has a monopoly on the services and the money, all of us who are outraged by this mismanagement and probably worse are venting here because the powers that be on CAPSLO board, SLO City and County are deaf to these problems.


MaryMalone

I wonder if CAPSLO documents the suspensions of services, and for what cause? Would that be available with the submission of a public records request?


kayaknut

They do not document the receipt of gift cards and donations why would they document this?


Plus even if you did make a public records request they would just ignore it.


NuVo

Yes Mary they do document every infraction to rules on all individuals. Although this information is not available to the public sue to confidentiality reasons for each individual. So for those that are saying they were suspended from services for 30 + days due to being within the 1/8 mile vicinity have also had other infraction to the rules that are not being stated in this article.


DennySLO

NuVo,

Can you elaborate on how it is you know that these infractions are documented? Also, The way you’ve responded you leave me with an important question; are you saying that you have to break more than one “rule” to be refused services?


slohomelessadvocate

The Homeless Services rules are not Dee Torres’ rules. Most rules were created out of ongoing issues and established a very long time before Dee started working for Homeless Services.


Communal living with such a diverse population requires guidelines, structure and rules to live by. The Prado Day Center and Maxine Lewis Memorial Shelter are dealing with upwards of 185 homeless people on their site at one time with 2 to 3 staff on to maintain the entire environment, to keep the peace and the safety of all (battered women, children, elderly, physically disabled, mentally ill, veterans, parolees, etc) for the whole day and/or night. I think they are doing a phenomenal job handling everything they are with the resources available. Rules, guidelines, and structure are extremely necessary. The panel and conflict resolution process are very effective in addressing behavioral issues and assisting the population back in to services.


The Good Neighbor Rules, that are specifically about not being in the area during non-operational hours, came together by the neighboring businesses and home owners with CAPSLO (then EOC) and other advocates in agreement when the shelter was trying to open in 1998 (this has nothing to do with staff having a fear of the clients). Clients are not to loiter in the area, panhandle, leave their vehicles in front of businesses/homes or bikes at businesses/homes when there is no staff able to attempt to ensure the neighbors are not being made uncomfortable. An interesting side note to this, Peggy Fowler herself was involved in the creation and enforcement of these rules during that time.


During a client intake/their first day of service, all Homeless Services Rules are gone over with a staff member or volunteer and the clients sign that they acknowledge and understand these rules. Most Homeless Services Rules are first addressed by a written warning (exceptions: violence, threats of violence, firearms/weapons, public exposure, drugs or alcohol on site, etc). If the behavior continues, a one day/night suspension. If the behavior continues, 7 day/night suspension. If the behavior continues it will continue progress; 14, 30, 60, 90, 120, etc.


At any time there is a suspension from services, suspended individuals may access a suspended lunch at the Prado Gate daily. There are MANY food pantries and food giveaway’s in the City of San Luis Obispo and the County of SLO (Resource Flyers can be picked up at Homeless Services Sites, Department of Social Services, Salvation Army, many of the local churches or 2-1-1 can provide resource information).


karma2come

Who oversees and makes decisions for the panel and inflict resolution process and what does this consist of, how long is the process once someone is suspended from services?


NuVo

I have volunteered at the shelter as well as the day center and have experienced / witnessed the infraction as well as seen the paperwork that is used for the write-up. I have witnessed a first time infraction as well as a multiple rule violation. If you want to see the reality of what goes on at either of these 2 services I would highly encourage any of the commenters here to volunteer. This may show you the inaccuracy of the reporting and the embellishment of what you read. Some rules may seem silly to the common public but this is a reality of having to deal with a community living environment.


karma2come

I was told people can enter the shelter and Prado day center if they have been drinking, but on an earlier post it said they are not allowed. I would like to know is the shelter and day center drug and alcohol free or not? Does anyone know?


TruthFairy

The answer to Karma2cxome:

Your answer would be, it is behavior based, which means, if a person drank a beer but is not acting obnoxious, then they can remain.. If they are yelling and obviously intoxicated, and disturbing others, then they are asked to leave..


MaryMalone

If they won’t produce the records, how do we know the records exist? By their statements?


Yeah, right.


NuVo

This will have to do for you as each write-up is specific to individual clients. These clients have rights to privacy and the information is confidential. So without a court order you have no rights to have that information. Rest assures that there is documentation


ReelView

Well Mary,

I do know that all suspension are on a form. There is paperwork. When a client wants to appeal the decision, there is plenty of paperwork!


karma2come

I also think if SLOPD wants to assist by ticketing the Homeless for everything they do then our county needs to step it up and offer a homeless court. These tickets probably get ignored and go unpaid because the persons whom receive the tickets are less likely to appear in court for several reasons. They may not have the money to pay the fine, the are not comfortable walking into a court room because they don’t have the proper attire, or simply they don’t want others looking down on them. So what happens citations go to to warrant and people go to jail for failure to pay. This helps the how?


TruthFairy

We should have a homeless court. BTW, even if they do not have money, there is community service, in lieu of payment, and, there is jail time. Frequently, a failure to appear is added to the charges, which means that they now have the option of jail time. With the new AB109 an advocate enters the jail and can help set up services for the inmate before they are released, including payment for drug programs, and services for the homeless.


Cindy

Does anyone know what sort of credentials Torres’ possess? It sounds like she has no psyche background what so ever. Schizophrenics can not always control their behavior and tics are just that, they’re tics. I’d say that it was Biz who was out of line and she had a lot of nerve correcting a Dr of psychology on this item.


SLOthinker

(I’ll save Mary the trouble of typing)

Her credentials are on the pillow next to her.


ReelView

lol