Lockers For The Homeless?

This discussion comes out of a lawsuit, but we find the idea interesting.

The City of Fort. Collins, Colorado settled a lawsuit over lockers for the homeless. The lawsuit was filed the “Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship” (FCMF) who had started a locker program which allowed the homeless to store things in lockers while they went to work, were looking for a job, were looking for a place to live, were meeting with resource coordinators, etc. The homeless were able to do more to get off the streets because they weren’t constantly worrying about their things being stolen.

The FCMF has been advocating since 2017 to have a locker program in place that would be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week for those experiencing homelessness.

No such service currently exists for free in Fort Collins, although the Murphy Center has since expanded its own locker hours, according to the Coloradoan.

The church and locker advocates said more accessible storage options would accommodate those with jobs or those who need access to their belongings on the weekends.

FCMF ultimately began this project on its own property using community donations after the City denied the group funding for such a program in 2018. A dozen functional lockers, to be expanded to 20, now sit at the corner of Mathews Street and East Oak Street, next to Old Town Library.

There are many things we like about this program.

First, the project started on the FCMF property. When they were initially turned down by the City of Fort Collins for funding and spots on public property, the group went “no problem. We’ll do it on our property.” You have to like that “can do” attitude.

Secondly, the program spurred others to do the same albeit with a request for government funds:

Meanwhile, Homeward Alliance, which recently rebranded from Homeless Gear and operates the main service hub to help people out of homelessness in Fort Collins, has put together a parallel effort.

Its director is careful not to frame it as opposition to the Mennonite Fellowship’s proposal.

Homeward Alliance is asking the city for $55,250 to expand its hours of operation. In part, that’s to provide more access to its 200 lockers and a reliable place for people who are homeless to get warm.

But it’s also meant to extend the hours of its more targeted programs to help people find jobs and housing. They’ve been in talks with service providers regarding adapting to the new hours in order to reach populations that they can’t with the current 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours of operation.

Homeward Alliance’s proposal would have the Murphy Center open until 10 p.m. from November through April and add Saturday morning hours year-round.

Third, the locker programs are constantly being evaluated for their use and success. This means that people are doing more than just throwing money at problems. They are looking at the effectiveness of programs with the idea of expanding if the programs work, and pulling back if they do not.

Apparently the locker program is having success because it has been expanded to allow lockers for the homeless on public property.

We have no idea whether such a program would work in Brevard County. We have no idea whether municipalities and the County would be willing to try it and then evaluate the program’s success or failure.

Clearly the good thing of this kind of an idea is that it is tied to getting people off the streets. The lockers are used so the homeless can go do something productive, even if that is meeting with resource counselors, therapists, etc.

In our opinion such a program is not a hand out, but rather part of a help up.

We believe such a program is worthy of discussion.

3 Responses to “Lockers For The Homeless?”

  1. Thomas Gaume says:

    I could support something like this as the obvious goal would be for them not to be used.

    Resource materials could be placed at or in the lockers directing those in need to available services.

    • AAfterwit says:

      Thomas Gaume,

      Thanks for the comment.

      You’re right. The goal would be for the lockers to become obsolete because there is no need for people to use them. The program does highlight the people that want a hand up and not just a hand out. People that can use the lockers to store clothes, or other belongings while getting counseling, looking for a job, working at a job, etc are those we should be looking to help.

      Those who want to live on the streets for whatever reason have no end goal for society.

      A. Afterwit.

    • Percy says:

      I agree with the theme of Hand up = good idea, handout = bad idea. Just keep government out of the picture or I suspect it would quickly turn into a handout program and you’d end up with more homelessness. Overall sounds like a good idea as long as individuals using the service could show they are using their time productively for job seeking, life counseling, substance abuse counseling, or anything else that helps them get back on their feet.