OutsidersInn In The News

Memorial Service for the Homeless at St. Paul Lutheran Church

17 in ’17: Service pays tribute to county’s homeless who died

HomelessMemorialService2017 image columbian 1

 

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

Published:

Vancouver City Council Member Ty Stober addressed the crowd gathered at the steps of St. Paul Lutheran Church Thursday night, and said something that came to him while he was thinking for what to share with the other mourners was the idea of stories.

The crowd held candles, sang and mourned together Thursday night to honor the estimated 17 people, according to organizers, who died while homeless in Clark County in the past year.

Stober said someone recently told him “those people” who hang around or use the Share House, a homeless shelter downtown, don’t contribute to the community. The notion broke his heart, he said.

“You think about the butterfly effect,” he said, the idea that small causes can have larger effects, or a butterfly’s flapping wings can lead to a tornado on the other side of the world.

Last year, when people gathered to mourn the previous year’s unsheltered dead, they didn’t know Ronald Heubner, who was homeless, would, the very next day, no longer be with them, Stober said.

They didn’t know Sungok Park, who had just found housing in time to be diagnosed with cancer, would die a few days later. Nor did anyone think they’d be without all the other names on the list, each one someone’s friend or family member.

“Each and every one of us has a story and each and every one of us has an impact on the world around us,” Stober said. “They were all butterflies. They all flapped their wings, they all made tornadoes happen in other parts of the world. So let’s remember that tonight.”

Adam Kravitz, another advocate, founded Outsiders Inn, a Vancouver-based homeless advocacy and services organization.

He said he started speaking up for homeless people while he, too was homeless. His logic, he said, was someone had to speak up for these people, and for this year’s vigil, he thought it would be appropriate to share some stories from those still outside and struggling.

“It is really about stories,” he said. “It is really about each individual. It is really about looking people in the eye and smiling and giving them hope.”

He shared what people told him:

• ” ‘Stop looking at me, and look at me like this,’ and he smiled.”

• ” ‘We’re humans, not homeless.’ ”

• ” ‘The numbers have grown and nothing has changed.’ That was repeated about 15 times.”

• ” ‘There is no magic pill, even if you do everything right, and follow every step in the book, it’s still hurry up and wait. You have no choice. You have to camp. But who can camp at night and work by day with laws so strict that you lose what little scraps you have saved. Oh that’s right, pretty much no one can do it, at all. So it feels like a lie, no one will treat you with respect, even when you do everything right.’ ”

• ” ‘You never even talk to me, not one time. Everybody thinks you know me. That’s bull crap.’ ”

• ” ‘Someone spat on me, and then someone else gave me a leather jacket, all in the same five minutes. I can’t stand this world.’ ”

These people deal with traumatic living situations daily, Kravitz said, and he praised the efforts of every volunteer and service group trying to help, saying it truly has saved lives.

Still, he said, again, the numbers are growing and little is changing.

Tom Iberle, executive director at the Friends of the Carpenter social services nonprofit, read aloud the names this year.

The honored this year included Heubner, Park, Roger S. Wilson, Jake Talley, Richard Waller, Joey Sigman, Dennis Lynch, Kevin Lisman, Raymond Bartley, Matt Solop, James Martin, Randy LeRoy, Michael Holmes, Roberty Sargent, Daniel L. Smith, Eric Studer and one unidentified man.

“In many cases, this service will be the only commemoration of their lives,” Iberle said.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly listed where Outsiders Inn is based. The homeless advocacy group was founded and operates in Vancouver.

http://www.columbian.com/news/2017/dec/21/service-pays-tribute-clark-county-homeless-who-died-2017/

 

Court: Homeless have privacy rights

Washington Court of Appeals rules on case involving homeless man arrested in Vancouver

Homeless tents AmandaCowen TheColumbian

News story in The Columbian newspaper.

By Jessica Prokop, Columbian Courts Reporter and Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith

Published:

A homeless man staying in a makeshift shelter had an expectation of privacy under the Washington state Constitution — just like people in traditional homes — when police peeked inside his dwelling. That’s the finding of a Washington Court of Appeals opinion that was published in part Tuesday and could have broader implications on privacy rights for the homeless.

The decision affirms a Clark County Superior Court judge’s 2015 ruling that Vancouver police officers violated William R. Pippin’s privacy rights when they looked inside his tarp, despite him being camped illegally in downtown Vancouver.

Pippin was subsequently charged with methamphetamine possession, but his case was dismissed after Judge Scott Collier granted the defense’s motion to suppress the drug as evidence, because Pippin’s privacy rights were violated.

However, the appeals court also ruled that Pippin’s case should be remanded to Superior Court after reversing part of Collier’s ruling. In the unpublished portion of the opinion, the appeals court found that Collier used the incorrect legal standard for determining whether exigent circumstances of officer safety justified them looking inside Pippin’s dwelling without a warrant.

Pippin was arrested Nov. 2, 2015, and charged with methamphetamine possession after the officers contacted him about camping in public past the lawful time. Officers had pulled back his tarp entrance to look inside when he didn’t come out right away and heard him rustling around inside. In doing so, they saw some packaged methamphetamine.

Pippin’s defense attorney, Chris Ramsay, argued that although his client was camping illegally, officers still violated his Fourth Amendment rights when they looked inside his dwelling.

Tuesday’s decision does not analyze the Fourth Amendment, which looks at whether an individual’s expectation of privacy is reasonable. The appeals court instead analyzed the state’s constitution on privacy protection.

Ramsay said Pippin is still homeless, and if he’s called to court later, Ramsay has no idea how to reach him.

‘You have rights’

Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which weighed in on the case, said the organization is “pleased that the court agreed that the constitution applies to everyone.

“It doesn’t matter whether your home is a tarp and a couple of poles or a huge mansion, you have constitutional rights,” he said.

A pair of attorneys with the ACLU submitted an amicus brief last year addressing the constitutionality of entering and searching someone’s makeshift shelter, as well as the case’s impact on privacy rights for people experiencing homelessness. Seattle University School of Law’s Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, the Seattle-based publication Real Change, and the Vancouver-based homeless advocacy group Outsiders Inn were also named in the brief.

Adam Kravitz of Outsiders Inn was in downtown Vancouver the day police were contacting people camping around Share House, a men’s homeless shelter. Kravitz’s organization later became involved in another lawsuit about seizing homeless people’s personal property. Kravitz said he, too, is pleased to hear that the issue of privacy rights for homeless people is being understood and analyzed.

“This is very good news,” he said. “I think we’re finally making some headway on a really important issue.”

He noted that the decision comes at a time when the nights are getting colder and hundreds of people on the streets are going to need shelter.

“I believe that Washington state can be the leaders on changing homelessness rights,” Kravitz said. “All citizens have rights and we need to help them.”

Broad implications

Adam Gershowitz, a professor at Virginia’s William & Mary Law School, called the issue of privacy protection for the homeless “unchartered territory.”

“I applaud the idea that (the Washington Court of Appeals) found (privacy protection) under the state constitution,” Gershowitz said, adding that “state courts are free to take a more expansive interpretation under their state constitution.”

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Art show spotlights works by homeless

Vancouver Community Library wants to show their creativity, efforts to contribute

By Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith

Published:

JDTurner AmandaCowen TheCoumbian

One of Jonathon David Turner’s wood-burning projects features cubes within cubes — the sort of art piece you have to readjust your eyes to understand. It sits in a glass pedestal on the downtown library’s first-floor atrium.

“It’s fun to mess with people’s heads,” quipped Turner, 31. “I would call it isometric optical illusions because you can look at the image at six different angles and see something different in each different angle. I try to actually accommodate each angle.”

He likes the mind-boggling works of M.C. Escher. If you want to talk to Turner about his artwork, he’s likely hanging out on the fourth floor of the library. He’s an artist in residence of sorts, spending days in the library and nights on Vancouver’s streets. He said he’s been homeless since 2009.

Homeless not Hopeless is the name of a new art show at the Vancouver Community Library featuring artwork done by local people who’ve experienced homelessness.

“The idea was to find a way to highlight the homeless population in a positive way,” said Ruth Shafer, program services manager at the library. “A lot of them really are being productive, creative, trying to contribute, and this is one way they can contribute.”

It’s the first time the library has attempted an art show like this, and it’s also the first exhibit in what’s called The Gray Space; people can find artwork throughout the first, fourth and fifth floors. It differs from the more formal gallery that people flock to for First Friday art receptions in the Columbia Room by the library entrance. Library patrons were clamoring for more art, and The Gray Space is what resulted. A series of hanging systems were installed along the concrete walls for displaying two-dimensional works.

“If you have a creative sort of side to you, no matter what your circumstance are you do it, or it comes out or you find a way to express it,” said David Gambale, senior library assistant.

Some of the pieces were hard to display, he said, such as a painting done on a T-shirt. Aurora Gallery donated matting services so the two-dimensional pieces could be hung on the walls.

The art show was the idea of Mandi Vee, who used to be homeless and spent much of her time creating art in the library. Although it took months to come to fruition, she’s looking forward to speaking at the show’s art reception Tuesday. She has several pieces in the library: stone jewelry, a crocheted baby blanket, drawings and an alabaster sculpture.

“That’s one of my favorite pieces. It’s still not done,” she said.

Some of her works speak more directly to homelessness, such as a beaded bracelet that says ‘being homeless should not be a crime’ and a poster with a series of questions for people to consider before judging someone who appears to be homeless. Does this person have a family they can rely on for help? Does this person have access to good, nutritional food? Is this person disabled?

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