Homeless search for new homes after new trespass law starts
Since it became illegal for the homeless to live outside of the City County Building at 5:00 p.m. Thursday, homeless who had previously called the CCB’s porch area there home peacefully complied with the law.
As the law went into effect, clergy members gave street sermons about their outrage over the rule change, comparing it to criminalizing homelessness.
“Why can’t we figure out a more sensible and compassionate way to approach this issue then to write a homeless person a $400 ticket,” Lake Edge Lutheran Church Rev. Stephen March asked.
County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd compared the loitering law to Gov. Walker kicking the homeless population out of the capitol.
“So the individual we spent a lot time saying does not reflect the values of the city of Madison, does not reflect the values of its constituents and people, we just did exactly what the person we’ve said doesn’t represent it.” Bayrd said. “We did the exact same thing. Shame on us. “
While Madison Police have spent the last month letting the homeless population know they’d no longer be able to live in front of the City-County building starting today, Central District Captain Carl Gloede said he knows many individuals may not chose not to go to the legal places police direct them.
“Because that’s where the programming is. The staff is. And the safety is. Knowing that a lot of them won’t go there or chose to go places that are illegal,” Gloede said. “We know parks and woods and underpasses. And wherever they think it’s safe for them.
Homeless Iraq Veteran Richard Hansen, who has called the outside of the CCB home for the last three weeks, said he is angry about the law. He will choose Tenney Park over a shelter.
“They don’t harass me down at Tenney Park,” Hansen said. “I’d rather go down to Tenney Park where I can be by myself. Sleep. Crash out. Get up. Go to work.”
Rebeccah Hansen, who has lived outside of the CCB for the past four months, said she and seven other homeless Madisonians are moving partly because of the rule change.
“They want all their homeless people up and out of there. And they’re not doing anything to make it any better for them,” Hansen said. “It just tears me apart. Half of us are from here in Madison. Or from other parts of Wisconsin.
A majority of City-County Liaison Committee members cited numerous safety concerns, such as homeless people harassing employees or breaking into the CCB, as the reason the rule change was needed.
As of late Thursday night a handful of homeless people were still living across the street from the CCB in the entrance of the municipal building, which is also illegal.
“The goal is not to write any tickets. Not to get into that realm. But obviously that is part of our job. And we’re prepared to do that if called upon to,” Captain Gloede said. “Ultimately, worst case scenario, someone could end up in jail.”