Criminalization of Poverty or Creating Poverty with Criminalization?

One of Operation Welcome Home’s primary concerns is exposing and fighting the criminalization of poverty.   In Madison that has included meeting with the downtown Madison police captain to discuss the harrasment of homeless people on state street for quality of life crimes.

Another aspect of this problem is described by  legal scholar Michelle Alexander as creation of a “permanent  American undercaste” by policies of the current “War on Drugs”  which started in 1982 under Reagan before the advent of crack cocaine at a time when rates of drug violence were actually down.

In the following set of interviews  aired  on Democracy Now yesterday and today Alexander offers a  very compelling and infuriating analysis on the history, racial politics behind, and devastating consequences of the current “drug war.”

Legal Scholar Michelle Alexander on “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”



Meeting Times and Locations

This is an updated copy of the meeting times and locations page.  You will be able to find updated info via the Meeting Times and Locations link  on the sidebar.

Meeting Times and Locations

Our weekly meetings take place on Friday’s at the Neighborhood House Community Center at 29 S. Mills St from 10:30 to 12:30 and will be held there til warm weather.

Once the weather is warm enough we will return to outdoor meetings.  In the past we have met at Peace Park but that will be under construction this summer so we will be coming up with an alternative outdoor location.

We will announce the switch here but if you are in doubt call 608-345-0545 or email

If you cannot make it to our Friday meetings, there are plenty of other ways to get involved, so contact us at 608-345-0545, or email us at

Researching Shelter Standards in other Cities

Improving conditions at the emergency shelters in Madison is one of the many items OWH would like to accomplish.

I recently started researching shelter standards in other cities.  The following links are a start.

The first is a full outline of the shelter standards proposed by the Cleveland Homeless Congress.  The second is a selection of posts  from the blog Cleveland Homeless about the process of trying to get the shelter standards passed by the Cleveland City Council.

Shelter Standards proposed by the Cleveland Homeless Congress

ClevelandHomeless Blog: Posts on shelter standards.

Later I will be posting thoughts about how these models might apply to Madison and how to pursue such a campaign here.

For starters, shelter standards are one of the items that the Peoples Vision For Affordable Housing will be including on their 5 Year Vision For Affordable Housing they intend to submit to the Madison Common Council.  I am doing this research for the Peoples Vision as well as for OWH so this research will help inform the shelter standards proposal that will be part of the Peoples Vision.

If  shelter standards are something you want to work on advocating; your comments, tips, suggestions, and help in this matter will be appreciated and will  influence the final proposal of the Peoples Vision for Affordable Housing.

I also added links in the OWH blogroll to the ClevelandHomeless Blog and the Northeast Ohio Coalition of the Homeless.

Nate G

Links to Coverage of Peace Park Renovation Debate and Subsequent Votes

Here is a list of links to coverage of recent events involving OWH, the Lisa Link Peace Park Renovation and the Madison Common Council.  Please post any omissions or errors in the comments. Listed in chronological order:

Downtown Madison Peace Park Discussions Grow Tense Isthmus 9/30/09

Panhandling Limitations on State Street Criticized Channel 3000 10/29/09
Subway ATM and the Little Green Box.  Includes interview with OWH core member Nate Abrams.

Laptop City Hall: When is an ATM not just an ATM (CapTimes on-line) 11/04/09

Konkel on November 3 discussion of Peace Park at Common Council 11/04/09

Scroll down to item #57.  Includes a paraphrasing of most of the testimony that OWH core members and allies gave and subsequent Common Council discussion.

WORT’s In Our Backyard 11/04/09

scroll down to In Our Backyard 11/04/09 a 4-5 minute piece on Peace Park and OWH demands begins 11 minutes and 37 seconds into the program.

the 11/11/09 In Our Backyard may feature some discussion with alders on the issue but I am not sure.

Meeting Video on Madison City Channel

Requires RealPlayer.
Click on November 3rd Common Council Meeting.
Once the meeting has opened in the Real Player you can jump directly to Agenda item #57.

Emily’s Post on the Daily Page 11/09/09

Opinion piece.  Scroll down to ATM Disrupting the Peace.

Konkel on “Guilt Money” (amendment 11) 11/10/09

Konkel on City Operating Budget Amendments Discussion and Votes  11/12/09

Scroll down to amendments 11 and 10 to read about discussion and votes pertinent to OWH and homeless services etc.

Video of Common Council meetings on City Channel 12

Requires RealPlayer.
Click on November 11th Common Council Meeting.
Once the meeting has opened in the Real Player jump to amendments 11 and 10 of the City Operating Budget.

11/3 OWH Rally Against Displacement!

Operation Welcome Home Rally for Peace Park
Stop the displacement of homeless and poor people from public spaces! Keep Peace Park for the People!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009
5:00pm – 8:00pm
5:00 meet at Peace Park (Gilman & State)
Marching at 6:00 to the City-County Building (210 MLK Blvd)to rally
6:30 Enter and register comment/to speak (Room 300)

On 11/3, the Common Council will hold a final vote on the Peace Park redevelopment project–$1 million dollars (65% public TIF funding) to renovate the greenspace in the park, and to put in a visitor’s center and police office.

The plans also include the installation of an ATM, which would make panhandling impossible at the Park. There are already several ATMs on the block, including one directly next door at Subway. Police pressure also makes it unsafe for homeless people to simply exist in public. Homeless people are tired of being run out of public space after public space. Peace Park is home for a resilient community of homeless and formerly homeless people building accountability and creating positive change.

Operation Welcome Home demands:

1) A stop to the vicious cycle of displacement of homeless folks through police harassment and economic and land use development

2) Reversal of the unjust allocation of public resources toward such projects, as Madison fails as a community to address the root causes of homelessness, and

3) Support for the positive work that OWH as a community of homeless people and allies do in creating solutions–Housing First initiatives, community education, Day Labor program, etc.

Please join us in ensuring these messages are heard! We need strong support from allies!

Remembering Darrel Regulus

We at Operation Welcome Home are grieving the loss of a brother, close friend, and member of the OWH house, Darrel Regulus. We are grateful for all that Darrel taught us, and we are holding his family and friends in our hearts. We are blessed to have gotten some of his message and story on video. Here is a video tribute in honor of Darrel’s life.

Rally and Community Listening Session Friday July 24th

Operation Welcome Home:
Homeless Fighting For the Homeless

Invites you to a Rally and Community Listening Session On Friday July 24th.

We demand that the city address the root causes of homelessness rather than using displacement and criminalization to deal with homelessness. In response to their plan to spend $1 million on renovating Peace Park into an amphitheater and visitor’s center with a police office, we will be asking for those funds to be matched or re-directed into resources and programs that prioritize and meet the needs of homeless and low-income people in Madison.

Where: Beginning at Peace Park marching to the Capitol steps (off of State St.)

When: Friday July 24th
11:45 Peace Park
12:00 Capitol Steps
(followed by a BBQ and celebration at peace park from 2-4.)

For More information contact Z! Haukeness at or 608-358-9993

Madison Freedom Summer

Madison Freedom Summer 2009
Come unite in the struggle for fair housing, employment opportunities, equality and justice!
See the work-in-progress for a documentary on homelessness and root causes in Madison, featuring local homeless activists, and be part of building this movement.

Mon June 29th at 12pm BBQ picnic at Peace Park
Sat July 11th at 12pm BBQ picnic at Peace Park
All leading up to a RALLY on Friday, July 24th at 12pm, Capital
Steps (stay tuned for more information)

More info? Call Ali at 345-0545

Homeless Fighting for the Homeless!

OWH is a community of homeless people and their allies in Madison organizing around the root causes of homelessness. We are fighting for affordable housing, jobs, and an end to the criminalization of poverty.

Who We Are

We are mostly Black, homeless and formerly homeless, low and no-income, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people working in collaboration with community allies in Madison, WI.

We work to hold agencies and institutions accountable to addressing the root causes of homelessness, rather than putting band-aids on the problem. 

We believe our community needs self-determination, not just services! We all deserve to have our basic needs met and power over the decisions that affect our lives.

We want, need, and welcome support, but we want solidarity not charity! We want allies to work shoulder to shoulder with us in the struggle to change the system.

We know that we- not officials or ‘altruists’- are the experts on our situation, and demand that we speak for ourselves and have a voice in all decisions that affect our lives!


We are in the process of creating a full length documentary illustrating the issues of homelessness, poverty, and criminalization in Madison. The preview above is a 10 minute trailer for the documentary. Stay tuned for the full -length film