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MEDIA RELEASE: S-CAP Calls For Emergency Out of the Cold Shelter & End to Discriminatory Handi-Transit Reviews

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

Nov. 4, 2014 – For Immediate Release

Contact: S-CAP at 249-878-7227

We Need an Emergency Out of the Cold Shelter Right Now and an end to the discriminatory reviews denying people who need it access to Handi-Transit

The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) will be attending the City Council meeting at 6pm today at Tom Davies Square to demand action on setting up an emergency Out of the Cold Homeless Shelter and an end to the discriminatory reviews that are denying access to Handi-Transit for people who need it. Below are statements from S-CAP on these two topics, first in English and then in French. For more information contact:  S-CAP at 249-878-7227

S-CAP Response to City on Emergency Shelter:  Again, the homeless are being left out in the cold!

Snow has fallen in Sudbury, and the City has yet to set up an emergency Out of the Cold homeless shelter! Again, the homeless are being left out in the cold. The Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty (S-CAP) recognizes the need to establish this emergency shelter immediately, for it to remain open every night all winter, and for it to be accessible. However, the City does not yet have even a plan for the emergency shelter in place.

The pilot project, which ran only from mid-February to the end of March 2014 in response to much campaigning and pressure from S-CAP, was a very good beginning to what will hopefully become an even better program that will meet the immediate shelter needs of all homeless people on our streets.

Many of S-CAP’s demands for the emergency shelter, which were synthesized from the concerns raised by homeless people, were met by the emergency shelter pilot project last year.  It is absolutely essential that the program this year continue to:  be open to anyone; operate on a drop-in basis where people can come and go as they please; be open every night during the colder months; and be accessible without I.D., payment, or the completion of any registration process.  But there are more ways the emergency shelter must be improved upon for this year!

After reviewing the pilot project, the City recognized that there is a need for an emergency shelter.  In the “Ten Year Housing and Homelessness Plan” the City also recognized that there is a need to “increase the diversity of emergency shelter options” and to “review eligibility criteria for existing shelters and/or reallocate funding to ensure emergency shelter accommodation meets the diverse range of needs…”  However, the City has so far failed to do anything concrete to address the barriers which continued to exist under the emergency shelter pilot project last year.

In the report to be delivered to City Council today, November 4th 2014, City representatives in charge of developing a shelter solution state that they plan to try to work with the Salvation Army again to come up with a program.  If the City accepts this, this means the City is essentially committing to perpetuating the barriers to accessing an emergency shelter which existed under the pilot program and could continue to exist this year!

The emergency shelter must be open immediately!  The City cannot continue to delay with bureaucratic processes.  The emergency shelter must be made accessible for those who cannot use stairs.  The staff working in the shelter must not be from the Salvation Army since a number of homeless people have had negative encounters with these staff in the past.  It must also be open all day and all night since it is still very cold here during the day in the winter, or at least have extended hours to be more accommodating.  These are barriers which existed under the pilot project last year, and which must be eliminated this year.

Last year, both S-CAP and some members of City Council proposed that accessible City space be used for the emergency shelter.  It was also proposed that the shelter be staffed by the City to eliminate the accessibility barrier caused by having the shelter operated by the Salvation Army.

Despite these recommendations early on, the City does not have a plan in place which incorporates these ideas.  The City of Greater Sudbury Community Development Department states that “options are being explored…” in this regard, and that they intend to have the emergency shelter program operational “as quickly as possible”.  But in the same report being presented today, City staff state that they intend to have this program running “from approximately December 2014 until April 2015”!  Given that this option was known to the City last year, there should be no time needed now for further planning!

S-CAP demands that the emergency shelter be opened immediately, and that it be accessible, independent of the Salvation Army, and opened with extended hours!

Handi Transit must be available to all who need it

Until recently eligibility for Handi-Transit required an application form filled out and signed by a doctor. The procedure was simple enough but there were problems nevertheless.  Often people who were without a doctor and accessed walk-in clinics had difficulty finding a doctor who would fill out the form. There was also no mechanism for appealing a decision.

As the population is aging, the need for access to safe and flexible public transport is increasing. Instead of also increasing resources for Handi-Transit, the City has decided to create barriers to access. By reducing funding to this service which was already badly underfunded, the City is putting vulnerable people at risk and isolating them from their communities.

The City has put in place a plan to limit access to Handi-Transit by reassessing current users and establishing tighter eligibility requirements.  This creates a lot of stress for users worrying about their status. People living with disabilities related to mental health or developmental conditions are being deemed ‘physically fit’ and expected to use ordinary public transport.  There doesn’t seem to be an appeal process. Denying people access to equitable and accessible public transport denies them the right to participate in the life of their community and City.

SCAP views this process as discrimination.  The City of Sudbury must put an end to this system which refuses access to Handi-Transit to those who need it.

Réponse de la coalition anti-pauvreté à la Ville de Sudbury : un refuge d’urgence pour les sans-abris sans délai et l’accès au Handi-Transit pour toute personne qui en a besoin

L’ouverture du refuge pour sans-abris urge

La neige et les froids sont déjà arrivés à Sudbury. L’établissement sans délai d’un refuge d’urgence pour les sans-abris urge.  Il ne faut pas laisser traîner sa mise sur pied et obliger les gens à dormir à même le sol gelé.

Selon un rapport présenté au Comité des services communautaires en août dernier, le refuge d’urgence mis sur pied l’hiver passé a été un succès. Plus de 10 personnes en moyen y dormaient chaque nuit  et ce nombre allait en croissant à mesure que le programme se faisait connaître pour atteindre 19.  Les gens appréciaient avoir un endroit sécuritaire où passer la nuit à l’abri du froid.  Certains à cause de leur dépendance, d’autres ayant étaient refusé l’accès à d’autres services dans la communauté.

Selon la mise-à-jour sur le refuge d’urgence préparée le 24 octobre dernier pour présentation au Conseil municipal le mardi 4 novembre  le refuge va ouvrir ses portes aux sans-abris encore cet hiver mais seulement à partir du 1er décembre. Évidemment cela ne suffit pas étant donné l’arrivée il y a quelques jours déjà des neiges et du froid.   Les problèmes et lacunes entourant le projet de refuge d’urgence  les suivants :

·         l’hiver est déjà arrivé.  Il faut ouvrir le refuge immédiatement et ne pas attendre au mois de décembre;

·         il est essentiel que toute personne sans exception puisse y avoir accès sans avoir à payer,  à montrer des pièces d’identité, à s’enregistrer ou à remplir des formulaires;

·         dans le passé de nombreux sans-abris  à Sudbury ont eu des expériences négatives par rapport à l’organisation responsable de l’opération du refuge l’an dernier; il s’agit là d’une barrière importante à l’accès à ce service qui doit être éliminée;

·         l’an dernier la coalition anti-pauvreté et quelques conseillers municipaux ont proposé comme site du refuge une propriété de la ville, l’ancien poste de police pour éviter  les problèmes entourant l’espace de l’Armée du salut de la rue Larch, y compris l’inaccessibilité aux chaises roulantes;

·         le refuge d’urgence doit être ouvert 24 heures sur 24.  L’année passée les portes ne s’ouvraient pas avant 20 h 30 et tout le monde  devait quitter les lieux à 7 h; pourtant le mercure est normalement plusieurs degrés en-dessous du zéro durant les journées hivernales; il faudra des heures plus flexibles;

·          il est important que les gens puissent aller et venir à leur guise durant les heures d’ouverture.

La coalition contre la pauvreté croit que l’élimination des restrictions et des barrières signalées plus haut permettront de mieux répondre aux besoins des sans-abris à Sudbury.

Il est toutefois  important de comprendre que les refuges d’urgence ne sont qu’une solution temporaire.  En effet, il faut trouver les moyens d’assurer aux gens une habitation stable permanente.  L’ancien programme d’aide au logement, soit la prestation pour l’établissement d’un nouveau domicile et le maintien dans la collectivité était à cet égard de haute importance.  La coalition anti-pauvreté continue d’exiger le rétablissement de ce programme provincial et le maintien au niveau municipal des politiques et des taux du programme au sein de l’initiative de prévention de l’itinérance dans les collectivités, le programme qui a remplacé l’aide au logement d’autrefois.

 

Le transport  adapté Handi-Transit doit être là pour toute  personne qui en a besoin

Par le passé pour répondre aux critères d’admissibilité au transport public adapté à Sudbury il a été nécessaire de présenter un formulaire de demande rempli par un médecin. Le processus était assez peu compliqué mais il existait des problèmes d’accès tout de même.  Souvent les individus sans médecin de famille ayant recours aux cliniques sans rendez-vous ne trouvaient pas de médecin voulant bien leur aider.  Il n’existait pas non plus de moyen de faire appel d’une décision défavorable.

Le besoin d’un transport public sécuritaire et flexible augmente sans cesse à Sudbury, cela en grande partie en raison de sa population vieillissante.  Au lieu d’augmenter les ressources destinées au transport adapté Handi-Transit, la Ville a décidé plutôt d’y réduire l’accès.  Diminuer les allocations à ce service qui recevait déjà un financement insuffisant risque de mettre les habitants les plus vulnérables en danger et de les isoler au sein même de leurs communautés.

La Ville a mis en place un plan de limiter l’accès à Handi-Transit par la réévaluation des besoins des usagers actuels et la mise en application des critères d’admissibilité plus restrictives.  Cela crée beaucoup de stress chez les usagers qui s’inquiètent sur leur admissibilité. Les individus vivant avec des handicaps liés à la santé mentale et au développement sont déterminés aptes physiquement  et doivent prendre le transport en commun régulier.  On ne sait pas s’il est possible d’en faire appel  en cas de décision défavorable.  Refuser l’accès à un transport public accessible et équitable c’est refuser aux individus le droit de participer à la vie de leur communauté.

 La Coalition contre la pauvreté de Sudbury estime qu’il s’agit là de la discrimination.  La Ville doit mettre fin à cette pratique qui refuse l’accès au transport Handi-Transit aux gens qui en ont besoin.

 


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