Enforcement of an ordinance which will effectively ban homeless people from staying in front of city buildings will take effect Thursday, Oct 1.
Homeless advocates have raised concerns about where the displaced will go following the trespassing ordinances enforcement. Shelters will be made more available, but most use their limited shelter time to stay warm and so will likely relocate elsewhere.
Men’s and women’s shelters have agreed to give people an additional 30 days of shelter, according to Brenda Konkel, homeless advocate and former alder. She said many of the women will be at a higher risk because they will not be able to stay in shelters if they have more than 30 people.
Konkel disputes claims by Mayor Paul Soglin that homeless people will not go to shelters because they do not like rules prohibiting drugs and alcohol. She said because people are given only 60 shelter days to use a year, they choose to use those days judiciously and save them for cold weather.
“The no-rules thing that the mayor keeps talking about is absolutely not what is happening,” Konkel said.
She said shelters such as Salvation Army and Porchlight must enforce the day limits because of staffing concerns.
Konkel said that the planned day shelter will be helpful, but it will not alleviate the strain on shelters because it will not provide any overnight services.
The ordinance was put into place one month ago by the City-County Liaison Committee but enforcement was deferred for 30 days, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4.
“They felt that there should be a later implementation date to allow time for people to be informed but moreover to hook these individuals up with services,” Verveer said.
Workers will connect those displaced with available housing, employment and meal services, Verveer said.
Soglin pushed for the ordinance, which was repeatedly voted on for about a year before finally being approved, Verveer said.
The city will begin posting no trespassing signs at 5 p.m. and police will be present to enforce them, Verveer said. People currently staying in front of city buildings have had flyers distributed to them warning them of their impending diaspora, he said.
It remains unclear where the former occupants of the city buildings will relocate.