Once again, the lockers project is being threatened by the City of Fort Collins. Read more about the history of lockers at the Mennonite Church, as well as unfair treatment by the City, here:
FCHC has been working on 24/7 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.
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 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.
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).
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-…)
Stigma against people carrying large loads is so pervasive that even our City government has proposed treating people differently for carrying personal property – last year’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.”
Most jobs don’t allow people to store large amounts of personal stuff. So 24/7 lockers can help people find and keep jobs. (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) .
Winter weekends in Fort Collins can include four-season weather. That’s a lot of stuff to carry.
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.
A Timeline of the FCHC Campaign for Lockers in Fort Collins:
October 2014 – FCHC identifies 24/7 lockers as a need.
November/December 2014 – in first two months of lockers subcommittee, multiple conversations/meetings begin with service providers and with the City about 24/7 lockers. In December City Council work session, Councilmember Gino Campana says 24/7 lockers “will not move us toward our goal of making homelessness rare, short-lived, & non-recurring”
January/February 2015 – FCHC members continue to push for lockers at interagency meetings, holds meetings with Murphy Center, Social Sustainability Office
March 2015 – City funds 50 tiny lockers to be installed inside Murphy Center (not the need that had been identified)
April 2015 – FCHC members speak in City Council about 24/7 lockers. Meanwhile, Serve 6.8 takes over administration of the Murphy Center and promptly trashes a storage pod, destroying the possessions of more than 60 people.
May 2015 – FCHC writes op-ed in Coloradoan about Serve 6.8, 24/7 lockers
June-August 2015 – lockers committee talks to Bohemian Foundation about lockers, but does not get foundation support
September 2015 – FCHC begins to collect data on the need for lockers via survey
October/November 2015 – FCCAN intern conducts research into lockers in other cities
December 2015 – Serve 6.8 steps down from Murphy Center management
Jan-Dec 2016 – scattered attempts at reviving locker issue continue. Emails to City Council, people speaking in City Council, discussions during FCHC meetings. No significant traction.
March 2017 – proposed sit/lie ban would criminalize having “too much” stuff, FCHC suggests that 24/7 lockers would be a better solution, Councilmember Gino Campana directs staff to investigate 24/7 lockers
April 2017 – “stakeholders meeting” at the downtown library (city staff, service providers, downtown business groups, and FCHC members). Despite some resistance from downtown business organizations, City staff agree to move forward if a site and managing partner can be identified. FCMF steps up to be managing partner.
May-August 2017 – City staff and FCMF work out details (funding, site, etc.)
September 2017 – Leadership team green-lights service agreement, City and FCMF sign
November/December 2017 – Two community meetings, major push-back begins. FCHC organizes support.
February 6, 2018 – City Council votes against funding lockers (6-1). FCMF continues project.
April 2018 – FCMF nears fundraising goal for lockers, and accepts donation of several lockers. 24/7 lockers are coming to Fort Collins!