The about at the time of Mary’s delivery there was no room in the in, thus Jesus was born in a manger. Well, that was over 2000 years ago, and now New Image Emergency Shelter in Los Angeles has run out of room. What was their solution? Put up a tent and let the overflow sleep in there. This has been a challenge for the last three weeks with the cold, lack of adequate heating, and the strangely strong wind that nearly tore it up last week.
Clients have been moved in and out of the tent because of inadequate heating. First it was 8 hour propane tanks, but those turned off in the middle of the night leaving residents in the cold. Then they added heaters, which would seem to be a safety issue since they are mounted on the ceiling of a cloth tent. But they are not to be deterred. The motivation is because more women are going to homeless shelters instead of sleeping on the street with the cold weather.
The problem is that the tent they are using is one that one might see at a Hollywood wedding. It is designed to eat in, dance in, but not to sleep in.
This is not the first time that the Shelter has made a goof in recent weeks. They wanted to expand the number of toilets for women who only had 4 while the men had 14. So they hired a contractor that built a bathroom designed for small kindergarten children. The doors can not be closed if a woman sits on the toilet. The women are forced to squat to use the bathroom with any kind of privacy.
New Image was established nearly 18 years ago, and they have served thousands of men and women, but recently seem to be making blunders that are against the very people they are trying to serve. There have been complaints of poor food, or food that is not hot, when it is supposed to be. Services are not being provided such as housing, clothing, job skills, so some women have been with the shelter for more than five years.
Addicts and the mentally ill are being neglected by the lack of programs available to them through the shelter. Many are forced to seek help at other shelters, if the program can handle them. Image also has its professional critics. Programs that are designed for people living in Skid Row, whether on the street or in a shelter are being denied access to programs because their space is being taken up by clients of new image.
So what is New Image to do about its own image problems? Brenda and Lynda Wilson, the twin owners, need to be on site more and actually think through ways to solve their current issues. The state should not continue to pay for a program that is failing to assist its clients, and putting them in harms way. They should have to show proof of actual placement of clients in homes and not transfers to other shelters. They also need to bar shelters from using tents as homes in the winter.
Taxpayers are paying for people to sleep in a party tent because of poor planning by the Board of New Image Emergency Shelter.