SHARE participants discussed on 3/21/06 which potential projects sounded the most important. Housing was decided upon, along with showers.
There was a discussion between whether our goals as an organization should be to make people comfortable while they are homeless, or to help people get out of being homeless altogether.
The free wireless Internet and laptop use at General Clinic project was also popular. One proposed idea is to negotiate with the university to setup special accounts for clients whom are regulars at Suitcase Clinic, and whom we thus have a relationship with.
Regarding the library project, Chelsea is going to draft a response letter to the University’s own response letter. The SHARE meeting on 4/4/06 will feature a discussion about the library project, and there will be a special meeting for people interested in contributing to the response to the university’s letter.
Three other good ideas have come out of SHARE. One is to do an educational event on hate crimes, gathering data on housing and shelters, and trying to expand shower hours so there are more showers available at morning and at night. It might be a good idea to meet with Julie, the city’s Director of Homeless Policy.
Amit talked to Dr. Steinbach regarding what we are working on, and gave him our definition of homelessness. Dr. Steinbach found it to be well structured. Steinbach is free any time after Spring Break to talk with. Robert Ratner is also available for consultation. Dr Steinbach does not want us to overreach beyond our capacity as an organization, and to have feasible goals. The locker project, the library project, and a small campus/community awareness project would be the best to work on at the moment.
Regarding the library project, Amit was referred to a JMP student who has worked on this sort of controversy in the past. He suggested that it might be better use an appeal that the new policy is not a disservice to merely the local Berkeley community, but additionally a large disservice to the Cal alumni community, as they do not have student Ids and yet are theoretically entitled to be able to use the internet on campus whenever they visit. An E-mail address was provided.
The needs assessment project is clearly the big thing that we need to focus on for now. We need to decide upon what our needs assessment approach is going to be for this semester and for next semester. Do we want to do an entire city wide needs assessment, or do we stay with a more clinic-oriented, small-scale approach? The former will cost a lot of money and time, yet is potentially more revealing. We decided to do a clinic needs assessment this semester, and then potentially branch out further into the broader community next semester once we become more comfortable with the process.
Regarding the lockers, BOSS has started construction, though it is trapped in bureaucratic maneuvering.
Suitcase can sponsor the SB840 talk, which calls for universal health care for the state of California. It is probably not going to pass, but California is the most supportive state for it. It is a good way to raise awareness for the disparities in health care. Ron Adler will be talking at it. He is a doctor at Alta Bates and is well aware of the issues.
Natalie met with a representative from the Western Regional Advocacy Project, a group of six cities on the west coast who meet together regularly to discuss homeless issues. This group trains people how to recognize common threads among homeless groups and link them together on a policy and organizational level. They have a short set of questions, and they ask this set of questions to 400 people or so. They get a bunch of people and go through them and make a list of everything that comes up. After 400 people, you get a list of 20 that they work on. Right now National Healthcare for the Homeless just did one/is finishing one. We are going to get this forwarded to us.
Have annual/biannual homelessness conferences for the city/community hosted by SC?
Andrew will talk to the Apple representative on campus to investigate getting two or three laptops donated (old ones with wireless cards). Will use tax codes as incentives.
Have a syllabus of 50+ social welfare and homelessness related documentary films available to student groups that may be a good way to connect with the university community through regular showings on campus.
East Bay Community Law Center a potential aid in drafting non-profit documents?
5. Next Meeting
We will meet with or without Dr. Steinbach on 4/7/06.