Thursday, September 25, 2014

Families With Disabilities Bring Special Delivery to Fulton County Chairperson John Eaves


Today American Friends Service Committee joined Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, residents with the Fulton County OETH Permanent Supportive Housing Program, and representatives from Atlanta Jobs With Justice and American Postal Workers Union to deliver a demand letter to Fulton County Chairperson John Eaves office after hearing the concerns of women in the program and doing and onsite visit earlier in the week.

This isn't the first time we have had serious issues with the program and their treatment of the women in it. Click here to read about the last time we organized alongside women in the program.

Months ago Chairman Eaves office had promised to find housing for a number of the women who refused to be displace from the community the had come to embrace, he had also promised to assist with temporary housing, both promises never happened. More recently Eaves had made a commitment to bring improvements to the program during a face to face meeting with the women and hasn't followed through with those commitments either.

With a number of women's housing on the line we decided to take action with a number of women that were brave enough to be front and center with their grievances, there we many who met with us privately who did not come out of fear.

We delivered the following letter to Chairman Eaves office and we were able to meet with program staff.



Dear Chairman John Eaves,

We are here today because you have the power to fix the Fulton County OETH Permanent Supportive Housing Program and clear barriers from our path to self-sufficiency. In July, you moved our families from Vine City to the airport and we pulled our children through yet another new start. They are still struggling to find their footing in a new school and we are experiencing yet another round of staffing, program terminations, and threats. The staff says we must hold a job without access to childcare. They tell us we may not finish our degree. Every step invites termination from the program and return to homelessness. The shelters are full, Mr. Chairman.

We ask that you use your power to lift our destiny out of the hands of a vindictive program staff and the employees of the Regency Park Apartments. How can you put a flesh and blood woman and her six-year old child out in the street for making noise? Every woman facing program termination must be allowed to appeal and an impartial jury must hear her case. Stop Tracey DelGado’s termination immediately. We have signatures from Tracey Delgado’s neighbors who deny she has been noisy.

Program termination must not be used as a threat to coerce any woman to give up her right to freely decide or to protect the rights or the privacy of her children. If you do not allow a transparent process, the right to appeal, or a fair hearing then this is just a cruel weapon that beats us down and keeps us submissive under your control.

We ask you remove all barriers to our pursuit of education to lift our families out of poverty. The promises of the program are so often unmet, are communicated so poorly, and have changed so many times, that we cannot risk relying on it solely. Please don’t cut off our opportunity to prepare in advance of the day that you decide to put us out.

We ask that you allow us to watch each other’s children so that we may go to work and move our families up and out.

We ask that you allow our children to play in the front of the complex like other children who live at Regency Park. You have told us to send them to the dog park. Our children are not dogs.

We are asking for the right to be treated with respect and compassion by the case manager and supervisors in the Fulton County OETH housing program. We understand that there are rules to be followed and we are not asking for a handout, just stability for our families and the chance to go on.
 
After delivering the letter we were granted a rather long meeting to hash out many of the concerns the women had. While it's clear that the program still has a laundry list of problems we are glad that the County was willing to meet with us to discuss concerns and we are happy the women of the program led the discussion. We did come to some agreements and set a time for a follow-up meeting to discuss problematic policies of the program, explore how groups like Occupy Our Homes Atlanta might work with these families, and develop a stronger understanding of how the program works.
We certainly don't believe this issue is resolved, but we are hopeful that a path of resolution may have begun today. Many of the women in the program launched an online petition yesterday, and we encourage folks to check it out by clicking here.


1 comment:

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