The story is not over…
Our story, in three chapters:
A) A triangle of land had been entirely unused for the last 50 years became a space for rowdy squatters that have lived/partied there creating a multitude of police calls on a regular basis
B) Recently (for the last two and a half years) the democratic, self-governed homeless community, Camp Take Notice has sought shelter there while actively cleaning up the area, providing shelter, supporting one another and evicting those that are behavioraly problematic.
C) At no tax payer expense the campers and their supports created a community that not only provided shelter but also where individuals could support one another and “give back” to the larger community with adopt a highway cleanup projects, fund raisers for local fire departments etc
D) The campers that lived there expressed their desire to remain over the long term and communicated that message to MDOT for the purpose of securing permission to make improvements to the land in order to address safety issues.
E) MDOT, upon hearing about the camp’s desire to remain, instead decided to use safety issues (the ones that they were attempting to fix with their own donor’s money) as a red herring and their primary reason to evict the campers.
A) At a very public meeting it was stated aloud by social work professionals that their best estimate was that less than half of the campers might be housed by the June 22nd eviction date It was requested that MDOT move the eviction date back. It was not. When the June 22nd eviction date came and passed, none of the campers had achieved indoor shelter.
B) MSHDA stated that they would provide bridging shelter to those that had been displaced by the eviction until they made it into subsidized housing. The head of MSHDA said that they were considering using the $60,000 for hotel rooms. In actuality, what they delivered is yoga mats without pillows on a hard floor in a single room where everyone must sleep together and wake up at 6:00AM only to leave carrying all of their belongings with them.
C) Many campers for whom this is not a viable option have been attempting to sleep in new campsites but have instead been promptly evicted from most of them. Other former CTN campers, wanting to take advantage of the relative safety that the shelter offers have been turned away because they have reached the maximum number that they are able to accept.
D) At the same time, other non CTN homeless that are all over Ann Arbor are being evicted from their long term encampments. A pattern of systematic criminalization of the status homelessness is realized and is being perpetuated by the absence of Camp Take Notice – the one place where the overflow homeless* had been able to camp without fear of eviction.*those not able to access the shelter because it was full or too late at night
E) There are no more remaining places for the homeless to attempt to create their own shelter from the elements. The overflow homeless are being pushed from illegal site to illegal site with no place to escape the elements, the police or their own intractable poverty
A) In order to sweep this problem under the rug, MSHDA has allocated money in a way that is unfair, and inequitable. Instead of dispersing money to the larger homeless population based on the length of time that they have been waiting for housing or based on the severity of the need, they spent their money for anyone that is a camper CTN. Many social workers and homeless people feel a great deal of anger about this politically expedient tax payer funded fig leaf.
B) In order to prevent the reoccupation of this unused parcel of land MDOT has spent (their estimate) $20,000 + to put up an eight foot high chain link fence to keep the homeless from ever finding shelter again on this parcel. They have spent taxpayer monies to dismantle a stopgap mechanism that was working to shelter the overflow homeless of Washtenaw County. They used taxpayer money to stop an organization that meeting the needs of the homeless at no expense to the taxpayers. They used taxpayer money to defend the right of MDOT to keep unused land unused.
C) The fence is large, ugly, embarrassing and an eye sore to all commuters that must pass by on their way to work.
Help to write the next chapter: Please Call and or write Gov. Rick Snyder and the Director of MDOT, Kirk Steudle!!
Rick Snyder (517) 373 3400 www.michigan.gov/snyder
Kirk Steudle (517) 373 0718 firstname.lastname@example.org
Let them know that you will be retelling the story of what happened on Wagner Road to every friend and stranger that will listen. This message will be told until the state’s foolish actions are reversed or until another politician is elected that will head the input of voters concerned about the lives of the poor.
Our Intent is to make Snyder and Steudle aware of all the supporters that want the dismantling of the fence, and to give them a feel for the momentum behind this issue as it is picking up steam. We want them to know that Camp Take Notice has community support and that their political image is being compromised.
Keep informed: Watch for news items, letters to the editor, etc.
Some tips: Rick Snyder (517) 373 3400 If you are a voter – say so. If you are not a voter or if you are calling from out of state, still call because your intent is to influence Michigan voters by telling this story, and to let them know people are watching how Michigan treats those who are vulnerable.
Kirk Steudle (517) 373 0718His secretary’s name is Maria. She will immediately attempt to redirect your phone call their PR guy Jeff Cranson. Don’t let this happen: the purpose of your call is to leave a message for her boss Kirk Steudle (pronounced St-eye-delit is the director of MDOT that needs to know that his decision will be made very public. If we were asking for a comment from MDOT then we would be willing to be directed to Jeff Cranson. But we are not, we are making a statement to Steudle