FCHC has been advocating for 24/7 storage lockers since 2014. Increased storage options are a need identified by people who have experienced homelessness in Fort Collins, particularly large, secure lockers that can be accessed on weekends and mornings/evenings/overnight.
Storage affects people’s ability to move around, feel safe, and be treated fairly in our community.
We need adequate, accessible storage in our community.
A person experiencing homelessness must carry most of what they need at all times. This can be an intensely heavy burden, both physically and emotionally. Adequate storage options are essential for health, stability, and human dignity. Safely-stored belongings leave a person more able to attend to other needs, including finding a place to call home.
Storage increases safety
Carrying a lot of belongings can make a person a target of stigma, harassment, and even anti-homeless violence. When the National Coalition on Homelessness studied crime reports, they found that more hate crimes are committed against homeless people than against all protected groups combined. (http://nationalhomeless.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Hate-Crimes-2013-…)
Having a secure place to store your stuff decreases the likelihood that you will be the victim of theft, harassment, or violence. And being able to access your belongings makes you more able to stay warm and healthy – for example, if it starts to snow on a Saturday night, no one should have to wait until 8am Monday morning to access their winter boots and warm coat.
Storage can help you find and keep a job, along with other needs
Storage increases mobility. Secure lockers free a person to move about the city, to access more services, to interview for jobs or other opportunities, to visit businesses, and more.
Most jobs don’t allow people to store large amounts of personal stuff. So 24/7 lockers can help people find and keep jobs. For example, lockers that enable a person working 12 hour shifts to store clean clothes and other necessities will help that person keep their job, save their money, and increase their options.
Storage decreases stigma
People treat you differently when you are carrying a lot of stuff. Some stores won’t even let you inside, leaving you choosing between keeping your things safe, or buying something you need (like food).
Stigma against people carrying large loads is so pervasive that even our City government has proposed treating people differently for carrying personal property – 2017’s proposed sit-lie ban contained a provision that would have made it a crime to have more “attended property” than a person can carry, like a cart filled with personal belongings, or heavy luggage. This provision was one reason that the ACLU of Colorado called the law “one of the most outrageous, cruel and absurd examples that we have seen yet of a proposed ordinance clearly targeting unhoused persons.”
Storage is a pragmatic community solution, identified and affirmed by people who have direct experience with homelessness in Fort Collins
Realistically, people are already meeting their storage needs in the ways currently available to them. For some, that means storing personal belongings in public spaces, or even hiding them on private property. Lockers are a more secure option, and also help keep stuff out of other spaces.
Moreover, adequate storage is something that people experiencing homelessness in Fort Collins consistently identify as a need. Storage affects people’s ability to move around, feel safe, and be treated fairly in our community. FCHC is proud to have partnered with the Mennonite Fellowship to launch one locker project, and continues to advocate for increased storage option throughout Fort Collins.
Read more about lockers