A letter from Yousef Rabhi regarding the homeless, and the response to the storm by Washtenaw County; reproduced with permission. All hyperlinks go to Arborwiki pages, which should have more detail and explanations.
FYI: I discussed this issue with the Washtenaw County Snow Emergency Council and options were discussed. County government has been mobilized to do our part to ensure that members of our community that are homeless are able to keep warm over the next few days.
The Office of Community and Economic Development is working with Delonis to ensure that we find space for additional individuals. From my understanding, additional capacity was made available today. Another concern that has been raised is that some members of the homeless community are not able to pass a breathalyzer test and so will not be admitted to the Delonis Warming Shelter. Due to the severity of the predicted cold, it appears that Delonis will be more lenient with this policy.
The County’s Project Outreach Team has been delivering sleeping bags, and other warming materials to individuals that are camping outside tonight. Through site visits and other methods, they have established an accounting of individuals that are sleeping outside and their needs. For those that do not have access to warming at the Delonis Center, PORT has offered accommodations to house those individuals and keep them warm.
Public Health is also working with their Emergency Officer to respond to public health concerns as they arise. Public Health, PORT, Community Support and Treatment Services and The Office of Community and Economic Development have been working around the clock to ensure that folks stay warm tonight. With the cold setting in, we must remain vigilant to ensure that no one falls though the cracks. If anyone hears of any issues of people being turned away from the warming center, please contact me. We will ensure that resources are available to help those that need warmth.
Thank you all for your concern on this matter.