Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Loaves & Fishes management closes Friendship Park for indefinite period

Denizens of Loaves & Fishes Friendship Park were informed, minutes before its usual 7AM opening this morning, that the park would be closed today, and for an undefined period of time.

A banner was put up on the outer wall of the park bathrooms, facing the gates, reading, "Friendship Park will be Closed until Further Notice."

A sheet of paper was put up on the chain-link fence which informed people that evidence of drug and alcohol use was found in the park, yesterday, and this was the reason for the park closure. The sheet ended with an expression of thanks to park "guests" who do not engage in drug or alcohol use in the park.

Loaves & Fishes management has a history of closing the park without giving notice and for evicting all park denizens for the bad actions of a few. This odd policy of punishing everyone for what a few do most harms those homeless who are endeavoring to get something wholesome done in a day.

Contrary to the public's view of homeless people – and, apparently, Loaves & Fishes management and Board – a great many homeless people scurry to get work each day. Closure of the park prevents many people from having ready access to their belongings in the locker areas. When the washrooms are closed, too, which usually happens during park closures, it prevents people from being able to clean themselves up adequately to work.

Loaves & Fishes has a history of almost-always not giving notice when it closes facilities. For three days, at the beginning of winter, for the purpose of "winterizing" the park, Friendship Park was closed without giving notice. When the staff took a Tuesday off for a retreat, prior notice was not given to services users. When a holiday is upcoming, no notice is given if the park, or other facilities, will be closed either on the day of the holiday or the day following or not at all.

No other business, profit or nonprofit, could stay in operation with such a dismissive attitude toward its denizens. Only because Loaves & Fishes is a monopoly, with its bad actions mostly hidden from public view, can it get away with mistreating those it was created to serve.

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