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Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson

Social Justice

Homeless Summit Meeting - Aug 12, 2020

10:32 pm

Welcome (27 attendees) - Rex

Rex Graham, Sam Meyer, Darlene Matthews, Beth Britton, R. Russell-Lowe, Seve K., Ken Asch, Alma, Carolyn & Frank Valdes, Jody Bergedict, Margo Newhouse, Barb Ricca, Celeste Rodgers +1, Micke Gould, Hanet Moore, Mary Wiese, Georgia Conroy, Sue Watts, Chuck Gould, Julie Olson, Aston Bloom, Judy Jessing, Kurt Reuter, Jan Mulder, Margi Magruder, Bon Gordon, Cindy, James Hannley, Judy Jessing, Kurt Reuter, Tawmess Hatfield)

Housekeeping

Reading of Mission

Reading - Bethany

Introduction of speakers

R. Bethany- Background.  Since March attempt to uphold the “no overnight camping” policy.  Aggressive incidents began in April and in order to keep staff safe we needed to contact the police.  The police police is a no-hands policy due to covid. (At this point there were 10-12 people camping every night) There was an incident in July with a man with a machete (under the influence, dehydrated, refused to go to hospital) where the police cane to the campus and a trespassing charge was made with this person.  The Tucson homeless taskforce came out and talked with the campers within an hour of being contacted by police.  Homeless were given two days to leave the property (options were given for taxis & a hotel room).  Bethany & Jesus went out and over an afternoon homeless were escorted from the property.  Respect was increased with the visual of (collared) Bethany with Jesus so the homeless knew that Jesus was associated with the church.  The next day we are filing police reports with every incident (daily) so that a record is held for vandalism, trespassing, and/or camping.  The log is needed for tracking of future incidents.  Mary Wiese is the contact person if you see trespassing.

Issues

-Water (drinking, bathing, washing) is left on. $800 (2 month) water bill

-Holes in the Back Fence, the city is responsible for fixing the fence

-Need- resources list is needed for local homeless resources and keeping it up to date.

Barb Ricca- Landscaping (Chuck, Carolyn, Ken & Barb.  Help needed!)

Will take the lead in cleaning up the west camp.  Last week of August (24th) will clean up trash and debris.  A 40 yd dumpster will be delivered by the city.  Wed 8/26 starting at 7am until it gets hot, continuing Thursday and Friday if needed.- Volunteers Needed.  Sept 1-4 Landscaping will try to do some cutting to discourage camping in the area.  Carolyn will be the contact to organize volunteers.  Description of work to be done by volunteers.  [Hazardous materials organizing]. Signage posting for property collection.  Potted plants are dying as there is no weekly volunteer to water them.  

Questions:  address to Barb Ricca or Carolyn Valdes, contact the office for their email addresses.

Darlene Matthews Facilities Team (stand-in for Margo Garcia)

The electronic locks are broken periodically.  There is a single key for the manual locks.

Jesus has removed all the spouts on the faucets so water can’t be used a readily.  However, some have used pliers to open the faucets, a basket is recommended to prevent water usage.

Fence holes, no action has been taken

Environmental Services has been contacted to investigate cleaning up the debris and there are positives and negatives in having them come (there is a cost involved).

Electrical was damaged in the spring and outlets and breaker boxes have been hacked into.  The solar panels were turned off by trespassers.  Campers are using the electricity.

Aston Bloom

An understanding was reached that we cannot aid the homeless on our property.  Task Force resources should instead focus on helping and making connections with groups in the area.  Casa Maria.  Soup Kitchen. Gospel Rescue Missions (help needed serving food) new hotel building.   Sister Jose’s Women’s Center.  Southern Arizona Food Bank.  Any organization nearby who helps local homeless.  

Questions and Answers

Georgia Conroy- Acknowledge the meetings over the past 1.5 years of a homeless task force.  Feels that something needs to be done to empower these persons to have a better life.  Needs for a canopy.  Hope city church.  Georgia was upset because the work of the past years has not been acknowledged  or utilized.  

Sue Watts - multiple reasons for homelessness (mental health, etc.) Not every church has the resources to directly deal with the unhoused.  Ideas from St. Michaels’s:  boiling eggs for casa Maria, replacing them in the cartons, they are taking to Casa Maria.  Sue is offering to spearhead a program (if the congregation is interested in participating) to boil eggs. PBJ sandwiches are also being made at home and utilized.

Chuck Gould - there is no real place to sit down with people traveling across the campus to help them.  Mentioned a place on S. Palo Verde that helps both men and women.  Use of bus tickets, meal tickets, or cash.  

Julie Olson - public library keeps current lists of resources for the homeless

Bob Gordon- And organization that work with the root causes of homelessness rather than the effects.  (response from Aston) - Center for Opportunity (at GSM) includes counselors.  

Jan Mulder - send a list of resources that she received recently for responding to homeless folks.

Tawmess- Has been in an emergency shelter in Burlington Vermont during a spiritual exercise and lived with the homeless.  His take away was that he has no significant difference in people who are homeless or those who have jobs. 

Ken Asch- What should landscaping do day-to-day to keep the campus empty for landscapers?  Contact and coordinate with Jesus.

Wrap up

R. Bethany- It has been the purview of churches for centuries to help those in need.  UUCT offers water, mental health resources, and hopes to connect with people, genuinely, when necessary.  There is a way that we fulfill hospitality needs to those who use the pedestrian corridor of 22nd street.  Bethany is encouraged by the ideas.  She does not want people to fight over what to do… just go and do something, whatever, it is you feel moved to do. We are going to continue to make a positive difference in the world while keeping our campus clean and welcoming.

Rex- Importance of coordinating with Mary and Barb.  Volunteering- contact Barb or Aston.  

Email Rex or Bethany additional comments .

Thank you to all those who are working on this issue.  

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