April 13th at 7am - City Council phone zap
Harrisonburg has done little to help the houseless community. We are organizing a phone zap to remind them that there is an urgent need for resources. Help us call in to Harrisonburg City Council on Tuesday, April 13th at 7am (public comment will most likely be after 8pm) to remind them that folks without a home are just as much residents of "the friendly city" as anyone else.
Call in number: 540-437-2687
Watch the meeting online here
We demand that City Council commit to funding a public low-barrier shelter where the members of Harrisonburg’s houseless community can find peace and dignity. People who are left without a home are already in a precarious position but the City of Harrisonburg’s current policies makes their life more difficult by leaving them with limited support. There is no consistency for the houseless community and the underfunded, non-profit run shelters in the area are always hanging by a thread. While Open Doors does it’s best to accommodate the people warehoused in a closed grocery store, this is ultimately only a temporary solution. 30-50 people have access to two toilets when the shelter is open and have to rely on an informal network of open public bathrooms or port-a-potties that have been placed and funded by community groups.
After shelters close at 7am, people are left outside in below freezing temperatures. Some people found warmth around a makeshift firepit at Our Community Place. Others wait for the only publicly run warming shelter in Harrisonburg, the city bus system. It is a Virginia law that dogs cannot be left outside when the temperatures are below 32 or above 85 degrees. We afford more protections to our pets than we do to our neighbors. There is no place for them to use the bathroom without fear of being run out, no place for them to wash their clothes or take a shower without having to use what little money they have, no place for them to use the internet without receiving dirty looks.
Cities and towns across Virginia have established community spaces with amenities, many that we take for granted, that take some of the weight off of these people’s shoulders. Those without a home are just as much citizens of Harrisonburg as the wealthy homeowners in Newtown and yet the city has decided to prioritize the construction of greenways and authorize the hire of more police officers who enforce the city’s criminalization of homelessness. It’s beyond time for Harrisonburg to build a permanent, public, low-barrier shelter to support Harrisonburg’s most vulnerable residents.