Disabled homeless man denied bed by CAPSLO
June 28, 2013
By JOSH FRIEDMAN
The Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo denied a disabled homeless man a bed at its shelter last week because he was accompanied by a service dog.
Even though California law requires service providers to allow equal access to individuals with guide dogs, San Luis Obispo native Jeffrey Stone needed police intervention in order to obtain a bed at the Maxine Lewis Memorial Homeless Shelter.
Stone, who recently returned to San Luis Obispo from Arizona to feel more at home, first attempted to secure a bed at the shelter approximately two weeks ago.
But, shelter manager Della Wagner denied him a bed and demanded that he leave the property, saying that CAPSLO policy does not allow for service dogs in the shelter.
Stone returned soon after, and requested to eat dinner at the shelter. Wagner allowed him to eat, but not to stay the night, and demanded to see proof that Stone’s dog indeed had service status.
California law prohibits service providers from demanding verification of a dog’s service status. Stone still provided Wagner a letter he received from a clinical therapist stating his need for the dog.
Wagner then allowed Stone to eat, but not sleep, at the Maxine Lewis Shelter for the following few nights.
On June 17, Stone again requested a bed and again was denied. This time Stone contacted the San Luis Obispo Police Department, and three officers responded to the shelter.
After meeting Stone, the officers told him it was time to “reeducate” the shelter staff. The officers then discussed the matter with the CAPSLO staff, and Stone received a bed.
“They treated me like a decent human being, and it blew me away,” Stone said. “All three of those guys were absolutely wonderful.”
Wagner told CalCoastNews that she made the decision to deny Stone the bed, but that she could not comment on the matter without approval of CAPSLO’s Homeless Services Director.
Homeless Services Director Dee Torres said she could not comment on the matter because it involved confidential client information and she had not seen the police log.
Torres did say, though, that CAPSLO’s service animal policy states that guide dogs must behave properly and “be harnessed, leashed, or be under voice, signal or other control.” She did not indicate whether or not CAPSLO policy prohibits service dogs from spending the night at the shelter.
Since the police intervention, Stone has stayed at the shelter. However, he faces an ultimatum.
CAPSLO has told him, like other clients, that he must enter case management and turn over approximately 70 percent of his income in order to secure a bed in the shelter beyond his first month of staying there. If Stone does not do so, he must enter a daily lottery for a chance to stay the night.
Stone said that if he chooses to enter case management, he has the options of paying CAPSLO in money orders or cashier’s checks or arranging a direct deposit of his money into the nonprofit Family Ties.
Family Ties is currently under federal investigation for keeping more of a former CAPSLO client’s money that allowed by the Social Security Administration.
Stone receives about $970 each month in Social Security Disability Income, for which he qualified because he worked long enough in the past and paid Social Security taxes.
Agreeing to enter case management would leave Stone approximately $300 to live on each month. Likewise, there is no guarantee CAPSLO will get him into housing. Often clients have remained on case management for multiple years without attaining permanent housing.
Stone previously worked as a general manager for truck stop restaurant chains. Doctors have diagnosed him with scoliosis, as well as several psychological disorders.
Prior to moving back to San Luis Obispo from Arizona, Stone had arranged to rent a room. However, the agreement fell through upon arrival, and he ended up homeless. Stone travels everywhere with his service dog Boomer.