On Thursday, November 8, Tony Castaneda talks with Daniel Callahan and Brian Gee, homeless residents of Occupy Madison, as well as Brenda Konkel, of the Madison Tenant Resource Center. The 15 tent homeless encampment on the 800 block of East Washington Ave has been served a 48 hour eviction notice by the city of Madison. They will need to leave the premises by Friday Nov 9 at 3pm. Daniel, who has been with the Occupy movement for over a year and homeless in Madison “on and off” since 1979, says that the mayor, who had said that he would hold off on an eviction until they were able to obtain housing, has gone back on his promise. He also says that the mayor has not yet visited them since the eviction.
Brian Gee explains that despite many of the occupants being skilled laborers, they still found themselves homeless, due to lack of employment, Brian himself has been a carpenter for 15 years, and has done electrical, plumbing, and stick build construction. He lost his job one and half years ago. Before arriving in Madison in hopes of obtaining work, Brian lived in Stevens Point, where he was homeless for one month. He explains that upon arriving in Madison, he went to Porchlight for assistance in finding a job; he says, “the first thing I ended up hitting was Porchlight…and they literally didn’t help me at all. I had to do everything on my own.”
When discussing the difference in treatment of the homeless among different locations, Brenda Konkel mentions Appleton as having a strong homeless program. “There’s not much of a homeless population… [Because] they’re only homeless for 30 days, they’re able to get people into housing really quick.” She also describes Minnesota as having one of the best programs in the US: their ‘housing first’ program ensures that housing is placed as the priority, “if you don’t have a home base to work from, it’s really hard to do the rest.”
They believe that Madison has more resources than the city is actually willing to put in towards the homeless. Brenda says, “If we have $50,000 for a music video [in the budget], we can put that towards running a comprehensive day center…so at least they could have a place during the day to be able to use the computer, shower, store their stuff…” With the present situation, one must move to several different centers to do each of those tasks. This frequent traveling, in addition to the fact that the homeless are without bus passes, proves very difficult.
Occupy Madison does not wish to disclose information about possible locations for relocating. However, a large part of the movement is to have proper visibility in terms of location, so as to be in the public presence.
Visit the Occupy Madison website.
Listen to the entire interview here: