I read your excellent article on the Poverello homeless shelter (April 18). For a short time I worked there as an AmeriCorps/Vista worker.
While I agree that space is limited, I believe that immediate needs exist which have profound implications and should be addressed and remedied immediately:
1. Only one worker is on duty at night with as many as 70 or more homeless people sleeping in the dorms or on the floor when there is no longer bed space. Director Ellie Hill stated, in my presence, that financially she could not support the need for a male for the men and a female staff member for women. For all sorts of good reasons, it should be evident that at least two workers should be there to handle problems and counseling when needed at night.
2. At the day shelter, the Salcido Center located on Pine Street, there are no provisions for access to the building, nor the one small bathroom for the disabled who cannot walk on their own. This is, perhaps, a violation of the law.
3. In the article, there is a suggestion that a needs assessment be constructed to help decide whether the Poverello needs a new facility. I was hired to do an assessment for the Salcido Center specifically. When I suggested that the local government, business community, staff and the homeless population be surveyed, I was told that Hill would not agree to a survey because it was too political and might be upsetting to some people.
Perhaps the citizens of this community need to know another piece of the story in order to draw their own conclusions.
John K. Spitzberg, Missoula