River bend City: Human Services Policy Outcome

You have viewed and considered the social change controversy in the River bend City: Human Services Policy Outcome multimedia presentation. Discuss your proposal for an acceptable policy outcome from a human services professional’s perspective. Your perspective may be different from the River bend City community members, but take into account who defined the problem, how the policy was developed, and which entity was or should be charged with implementing the agreed-upon policy. What would be the possible consequences, from a human services professional’s point of view, if no policy was developed? Who would be the winners and losers if the policy is implemented?

The information below is what you will need to read to complete the above discussion.

Proposed women’s shelter in Lindner Hills

From: Adele Walker, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s Office 

To: You

I’m glad you’re going to be working on the issue of the proposed women’s shelter in the Lindner Hills neighborhood. Here’s some background on the issue that might help.

The proposed women’s shelter has met resistance by neighbors and business owners in this largely affluent neighborhood. A big part of that is because of a halfway house that used to be located in Lindner Hills. This halfway house, which housed nonviolent former prisoners who were in the process of reintegrating into society, was located in a residential neighborhood near an elementary school. After some problems and a good deal of neighborhood resistance, the city relocated the halfway house a few months ago. Because this happened so recently, some people in the neighborhood are very hesitant about the proposed women’s shelter.

There are several points of contention that I’d like to point out. One issue: we’re not releasing the address of the proposed shelter. That’s protocol when it comes to women’s shelters to prevent domestic abusers from locating the people who are fleeing them. I can tell you confidentially that the proposed shelter is located in a large home that is only blocks away from the former halfway house, and even closer to the elementary school. The other point of contention is that unlike many emergency shelters for domestic abuse victims, we are discussing the possibility of allowing families to stay for months or more if necessary. Neighbors are concerned about the impact this may have on the local schools.

A big part of the problem is this: the city does not have a policy in place for determining where to put shelters and how to address neighborhood concerns involving these shelters. Here’s what I’d like for you to do: first, I have some documents I’d like for you to read to get more background information on this issue. Then, I’d like for you to attend an upcoming town hall about this issue. Listen to what neighbors and others have to say.

Afterwards, I’d like for you to report back with some recommendations regarding the proposed shelter in the Lindner Hills neighborhood. I’d also like for you to provide some policy recommendations on how the city should approach the issue of shelters in general.

Thank you for all your hard work!

— Adele

PRESS RELEASE

Forward Directions House To Be Relocated to Ruby Lake Neighborhood

March 25 (Riverbend City): The Forward Directions Halfway House is being relocated from its current location in the Lindner Hills neighborhood. The facility will be closed on April 12, and residents will be moved to a new facility in the Ruby Lake neighborhood.

Forward Directions, which opened on October 21 of last year, houses nonviolent male former inmates. The facility can house up to 24 residents at a time. The purpose of the facility to help former inmates reintegrate successfully into society. The majority of the inmates are former drug offenders, many with addiction issues, and most of the inmates are under 35 years old. Residents have access to drug treatment programs, as well as job training and GED courses.

Residents of Lindner Hills voiced strong opposition to the location of Forward Directions. Housed in a large private home in a residential neighborhood, the facility was located about four blocks from an elementary school and five blocks from a large park. In January, one resident was arrested for loitering in the park and initiating conversations with children. In addition, another resident was arrested for trespassing and engaging in lewd behavior at a nearby golf course.

The staff at Forward Directions also expressed concern about the location of the halfway house. A major issue was the lack of public transportation and social services in the area.

The new Forward Directions will be located in the Rosel Industrial Park, which is located on northern edge of the Ruby Lake neighborhood. Public transportation is a short walk away, and social services are more available.

For more information, contact Gayle Barnaby at gayle.barnaby@riverbendcity.com.

RIVERBEND CITY

The Commission of the City of Riverbend City has scheduled a town hall meeting to be held on June 13, beginning at 6:00 P.M. at the Lindner Hills Community Center for the purpose of discussing the following information:

PROPOSED DOMESTIC ABUSE SHELTER

Riverbend City has proposed a location in the Lindner Hills neighborhood for housing a domestic abuse shelter. Residents of the shelter will be women who are fleeing physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive partners, along with their children. The residence will provide temporary emergency housing. In addition, on an as-needed basis, the residence will provide longer-term housing for families who are at risk of becoming homeless. A part-time social worker will be employed by the shelter to help residents find resources like permanent housing, job training, and legal advocacy.

The exact location of this facility will not be advertised publicly in order to ensure the privacy and safety of residents.

Residents of Lindner Hills, as well as other interested parties, are welcome to voice their opinions and concerns about the proposed shelter.

New Shelter Space Needed in Riverbend City

By Laurie Boyette | RIVERBEND CITY FREEPRESS

After Allison’s boyfriend tried to strangle her, she fled with her two daughters. For ten days, they lived at various friends’ houses—and in her car, even though it was November.

“I had no place to go,” she explained. A friend gave her the number of the Hennsey County Domestic Abuse line, and she called it. “They were really nice to me. But they didn’t have space for us at any of the shelters.”

Ten days later, space opened up. Allison and her daughters were housed at a shelter in a nearby suburb of Riverbend City. There they had access to social and legal services. Now, two years later, Allison’s ex-boyfriend is incarcerated, and she and her daughters are living in a small two-bedroom apartment in the Rondo neighborhood, while Allison works part time and goes to school.

“We’re doing fine,” she said. “The people at the shelter literally saved my life. I just wish we could have gotten in right away.”

Allison’s story is far from unusual. Shelters in Riverbend City are stretched very thin. Homelessness is up almost 15% over the past 3 years, including youth and teen homelessness, which has caused a strain on the entire Hennsey County system. Domestic violence reports and arrests are up dramatically as well.

“The lack of shelter space has reached crisis levels,” said Tina Scaletta, director of the Hennsey County Domestic Abuse Hotline. “We’re getting dozens of calls every day. Sometimes as many as fifty or sixty. We have women on the phone who need help now. And there’s no place to put them.”

Daniela James, Social Work Division Director for Hennsey County, agrees. “Riverbend City has significantly less shelter space than comparably sized cities,” she said. “There’s been a perfect storm of problems leading to this. Shelters have closed because of budget cuts and other problems. Unemployment is up, especially in the manufacturing sector, which has led to more homelessness. Demand for shelter beds is up and supply is down, and that just makes the homelessness problem worse.”

The city is weighing its options. According to Rick Hilliard, communication director for the mayor’s office, the city is organizing a task force to address the need for more shelter space, including shelters for women fleeing domestic violence. In addition, the city plans to open two new domestic violence shelters over the next few months.

“We are opening these shelters as quickly as we can because there is an urgent need for them,” explained Hilliard. “Ideally, the city would have more time to research ideal locations for these shelters. But that kind of research takes time, and women and families need housing now.”

Tracey’s (teacher, lindner Elementary School)comments:

I have mixed feelings about this proposed shelter. I’ve been a teacher for many years, and I’ve worked with families where domestic abuse is an issue. Yes, even here in an affluent neighborhood like Lindner Hills. This issue touches everybody, not just people from any particular socioeconomic or ethnic group. I know how badly women and children need a safe place to go. I’m very glad to see that the city is increasing the number of shelters for people in need.

My biggest concern is the impact that the shelter may have on the schools. Especially Lindner Hills Elementary School, where I teach. The problem is that the school is already overpopulated. The neighborhood is growing. Thanks to budget cuts, a proposal to build an addition onto the school keeps getting pushed back. Class sizes grow every year, and even if we could afford to hire teachers, we currently don’t have space for them. So if we bring in more families that need to attend the school, where are we going to put them

In addition…well, this is something other teachers and parents are more concerned about than I am, but I probably should bring this up. If the children from the shelter attend our school, they probably won’t be there for a long period of time. That kind of transience can be disruptive to teachers and other students. Personally, that’s something I’m willing to deal with–I mean, schools in poorer parts of town deal with that all the time, right? And the other side of the argument is that the kids in our neighborhood schools would benefit from being around children who aren’t as advantaged as they are. But the issue of transient students is definitely a concern.

Cubby’s (gold Manager, RBC Estates) comments:

I’m the owner of the neighborhood golf club. My club is located close to where the previous halfway house used to be. Which would have been okay with me, except that public transit service in this neighborhood is terrible. So in order to get to the nearest bus stop, which was like half a mile away from the halfway house, the guys would cut through the golf course. They weren’t supposed to, but if they didn’t, their walk to the bus stop was way longer.

And look, I don’t want to be a snob, but the reality is, a golf course attracts a certain kind of clientele. We’re competing with golf courses in affluent suburbs. It’s hard to attract people to your golf course when there are guys from a halfway house roaming around. Also—well, I hate to bring this up, because there’s ladies present—but we had a problem with a few of these guys relieving themselves on the golf course. I mean, most of them didn’t do that. Most of these guys were just looking to get to a bus stop so they could go to work or something. But look. This is my business we’re talking about, and how am I supposed to react when there’s people roaming through and doing that on my property?

And I know for a fact that other business owners in this area have similar concerns. This is an upscale community. People come to this area to shop in boutiques and eat at gourmet restaurants. Our ability to attract this kind of business depends on this neighborhood’s reputation.

Look, I know that a woman’s shelter isn’t the same thing as a halfway house. But there’s still the problem of lack of transportation. Why are we putting shelters in neighborhoods where there’s so little public transportation anyways? There’s going to be a lot of children living in the shelter, right? My clientele isn’t going to be thrilled about kids roaming around the golf course either.

Chandra’s (social worker) comments:

I’m a social worker, so let me give you some statistics. Do you know what percentage of American women have experienced physical or sexual violence from an intimate partner over the course of their lifetimes?

More than one in three.

And do you know how many American women are physically abused by their partners every year?

About 1.3 million women.

Here in Hennsey County, at least 24 women were killed last year by abusive partners. The courts adjudicated over 20,000 cases of domestic violence, 90% of which involved women victims. The county’s domestic violence hotlines received about 18,000 calls last years. And an estimated 1 in 3 homeless women in this country are homeless because of domestic violence. Riverbend City and Hennsey County as a whole are not equipped to help all of these women. Compared to similar sized metro areas, we have about a third fewer spaces at shelters.

I know that many of you are concerned about safety issues and school issues, and these are things the city needs to address. But please understand: domestic violence in Riverbend City is nothing short of a crisis. Shelters save lives, and they help women and families put their lives back together.

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