It has recently come to my attention that the police have been serving outstanding warrants at and on the property immediately surrounding the Delonis shelter. Specifically we’ve been told in the parking lot of Delonis, and the parking lot just to the west and immediately behind the building. Also on the sidewalk and at the bus stop immediately in front of the Delonis building. To be clear, I am not talking about the police responding to calls or arresting someone who is in the middle of committing a crime. (I have some thoughts on that too, but that is for another blog). I am talking about the police targeting individuals who have outstanding (sometimes old) warrants from their past.
This sets up a dangerous situation. Most importantly, people will not seek safe shelter at Delonis if they are afraid of getting in and out of the building without ending up arrested and put in jail. We know people who have come to seek shelter from the weather amnesty program at Hill House and at the houses of hospitality rather than take that risk. These programs have done and will continue to do what we can! However, these grassroots programs are nowhere near large enough to sustain the capacity necessary for all those in need. Even more worrisome, we know people will stay outside even in dangerous weather conditions rather than risk getting picked up on an outstanding warrant trying to get to Delonis.
Beyond this obvious danger, as word continues to spread, it also creates a situation where guests coming to the warming programs at the Delonis shelter who have warrants or who have had negative interactions with law enforcement are stressed, and on edge coming in. This is a set up for more fights, and problems at the shelter creating a more unpleasant (and possibly dangerous ) situation for both shelter clients and staff.
Please consider taking time to contact the Ann Arbor Mayor and city council to express your concerns about this situation. Here is there contact info: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-council/Pages/Home.aspx
As the shelter is a county building, please also contact our Washtenaw County Commissioners with this concern. Contact info here: https://www.washtenaw.org/217/Commissioners
Let them all know that the Delonis shelter and the area immediately surrounding it must be a space of sanctuary so that people feel confident in accessing the life saving services provided. Ask them to follow up with you and let you know what steps they will take to ensure our neighbors experiencing homelessness have safe access to the shelter.
With fierce love and hard-nosed hope,
PS – Of course, please share this widely