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Bartlett Housing Solutions’ Response to Allegations Lodged by Advocates of Diamond Village

1) Claim: if you are mentally ill or have an addiction, you can’t come to Bartlett Housing Solutions and won’t fit in.

Fact: The vast majority of people we serve struggle with mental health issues, as well as substance abuse disorders. Additionally, our apartments at West Run are a permanent supportive housing project that requires both chronic homelessness and an underlying disability (substance abuse and mental illness, both amount of disabilities). Rent is 30% of adjusted gross income; however, income is not required. If someone’s income is zero dollars, their rent is zero dollars. The apartments are one-bedroom, fully furnished apartments, which include everything from bath towels to plates, cups, pots/pans, and silverware.

Our case management staff works with each tenant in their apartment to connect them to resources to promote housing sustainability and stability. Transportation is provided to take tenants to medical appointments, employment, grocery store trips, etc. There is a resident Council meeting held monthly for tenants to discuss their home and community with staff and each other.

2) Claim: The rules at the shelter prohibit people from being able to utilize it.

Fact: The “rules” to stay at the shelter are:

  • You must be without a place to stay
  • You cannot do drugs or alcohol in the shelter; however, you CAN come in under the influence.
  • You cannot be violent towards other clients or staff
  • You must be committed to be housed by identifying your individual housing needs and goals to do so.

Case Management will assist you in locating a unit, getting identification, and coordinating mainstream resources to promote your housing sustainability.

3) Claim: Bartlett just wants to keep people in the shelter for as long as possible and does not want them in community-based housing.

Fact: This could not be further from the truth. Bartlett strives to get folks into a stable housing placement as quickly as possible. We strive to do so in 30 days or less; however, due to the challenges of finding appropriate housing units that meet the client’s individual needs, we are averaging 60 days to transition folks out of the shelter.

4) Claim: Bartlett Housing is only a shelter; people need housing.

Fact: Bartlett housing solutions offers multiple programs. We have the emergency triage shelter located downtown, which serves as an emergency place to go if you have no other option. Once there, and assessment is done to identify your needs and goals. Then a referral can be made for a housing placement that meets those needs and goals. The shelter serves as a triage, much like an emergency room at the hospital. You are triaged and referred to as a housing program/placement based on your needs and wants. However, you can stay in triage until placement is available.

Bartlett also offers transitional housing, which provides 24-hour shelter in a suite with a private bathroom and community living space, such as a lounge and dining room where three meals are provided each day. Bartletts Rapid Re-Housing program is our community-based housing where we provide medium-term financial support in the form of security deposits and rent, while also providing intensive in-home case management to ensure housing sustainability.

Lastly, our permanent supportive housing and affordable housing programs provide fully furnished apartments, including dishes, towels, bedding, silverware, etc. This accommodation also provides onsite, in-home case management, transportation, and community support. The 1 bedroom apartments are for chronically homeless individuals with a disability (substance use and mental health qualify as disabilities), and rent is based on 30% of their adjusted gross income. Income is not required. If their income is zero, their rent is $0. Our 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartments are section 8 eligible for those wishing to utilize that option for subsidy.

5) Claim: Bartlett Housing Solutions has a long list of people banned from the shelter who aren’t allowed to stay there.

Fact: The only individuals not permitted at the shelter are those who were severely violent to staff or other clients, Additionally, when COVID hit, we suspended that and allowed everyone to utilize the facility which we operated 24 hours a day so that folks had a place to go. Bartlett never takes the decision lightly to prohibit anyone from entering the shelter. However, we must sometimes make that difficult decision if violence is involved to ensure the safety of all.

6) Claim: The existing system doesn’t work, and people were housed because of Diamond Village.

Fact: “The system” is what housed the people from Diamond Village. The WVCEH and Bartlett Housing Solutions were the agencies that housed every person at Diamond Village. Initially, there were 22 people at the encampment. There were 15 people housed, all of which were housed in either the WVCEH or Bartlett’s housing programs. There should be only seven people remaining at the encampment – as of today; there are 32.

7) Claim: Nobody meets those experiencing homelessness where they are or asks their input.

Fact: The entire model of “Housing First” and Housing Focused Shelter” is including the client in the development of their housing plan: Where do you want to live? What do you need to make that happen? How can we assist you in doing that? Do you want treatment? If you don’t want treatment, let’s ensure you can prioritize your housing so you can stay housed with an addiction. Additionally, we have resident councils and a person with lived experience on our board.

8) Claim: People are homeless because of an addiction or mental illness.

Fact: The vast majority of people in our country that have an addiction or severe mental health issue are housed. People are homeless because they lack a home.

9) Claim: The CDC states that you shouldn’t break up an encampment.

Fact: The CDC has stipulations and guidance for encampment, in this instance, which include masks, sanitary provisions, social distancing, not having new people in and out of the encampment, and daily screening for symptoms. This encampment is not practicing social distancing, is unsanitary; residents are not wearing masks and are in and out of the encampment as well as having visitors and are not being adequately monitored for COVID symptoms.

10) Claim: Bartlett staff and clients have sexually harassed, assaulted, stolen from, and discriminated against former clients.

Fact: Bartlett housing solutions have a grievance policy, which provides several different outlets for reporting grievances. We have NOT received ANY reports from any of the individuals in the encampment, or any agency working with them, outlining any specific staff member(s) or incident despite multiple requests. If anyone has information regarding these serious allegations, please email me at KDemasi@bartletthousingsoultions.org. Please provide as much detail as possible so that they can be investigated. We do not take these claims lightly at all. We do struggle with the helplessness of repeatedly being accused of such horrible things, without being provided with anything to investigate and to address – DESPITE MULTIPLE REQUESTS.

Our staff represents younger and older individuals, both male and female, with diverse sexual orientations so these allegations are incredibly hurtful and equally concerning if ever substantiated. They go against the core of who we are. Bartlett Housing Solutions has a zero-tolerance for any form of misconduct, including but not limited to: sexual harassment and assault and discrimination and will terminate any employee ever determined to be guilty of the same.

Bartlett proudly employs several former program participants and values their insight into our service delivery and codes of conduct. Additionally, Bartlett has a board member with lived experience to ensure the same. Again, please direct any and all reports of misconduct to the director at the email address listed above.

Finally, it is essential to note that upon research of most of the individuals staying at the encampment, for whom the advocacy group alleged misconduct, the vast majority are not reflected anywhere in the statewide database. Any and all clients that stay at any of Bartlett’s programs are included in that database. How can people make allegations against us if they have never utilized our services?

11) Claim: Bartlett doesn’t allow animals unless they are service animals, so they can’t come in if they have a pet.

Fact: All Bartlett Housing Solutions programs are pet-friendly. We have multiple pets in our programs.

12) Claim: Bartlett hasn’t gone down to the encampment at all and hasn’t housed anyone from there.

Fact: The current system of which aims to move folks into housing efficiently and effectively includes several avenues to do so: calling the Coordinated Entry number, going into the emergency shelter, or speaking to a street outreach worker. Bartlett provides the emergency shelter piece where the WVCEH provides the outreach worker and coordinated entry piece. Bartlett does not currently have an outreach position. Additionally, Bartlett’s team members have been down to the encampment to locate individuals whom we had a housing referral to move them into housing. Of the 15 people housed from the encampment: 100% of them were house by the WVCEH or Bartlett Housing Solutions. The very system that this group says isn’t working is the very system that housed them.

13) Claim: Bartlett isn’t open 24 hours, so the people have nowhere to go during the day.

Fact: The downtown triage shelter is not open 24 hours a day; however, as previously mentioned, the Triage Shelter is not a housing placement. The goal is to move people out of the shelter as quickly as possible into other housing programs (either our programs or the WVCEH’s housing programs), which are 24-hour programming.

14) Claim: Bartlett doesn’t offer a sense of community and family.

Fact: If you ask our clients this question, they will adamantly disagree. Our clients are outraged by the allegations alleged against us and have asked why no one is talking to them. Our PSH tenants are very much a family. They often visit each other in their apartments, have cookouts, cook together, go fishing together, and share items the others may need. During quarantine, we had a group page for everyone to share their needs and support because they couldn’t socialize the way they used to. Here are just a few examples of their community and support for one another.

15) Claim: Bartlett isn’t safe.

Fact: Bartlett Housing Solutions has cameras throughout the building for security and staff at all times. There have been zero reports of specific safety concerns from either staff or clients.

16) Claim: Bartlett’s shelter is infested with bed bugs.

Fact: This is simply not true. The shelter does not have bed bugs.

17) Claim: Bartlett has black mold.

Fact: The shelter does not have black mold.

18) Claim: Bartlett is filthy and dirty.

Fact: The shelter is old but in no way dirty. It is cleaned thoroughly at least 1 time per day with hospital-grade disinfectants and cleaner. New linen is issued each night and laundered by our staff.