Local 10’s Christina Vasquez’s fine investigation into inhumane abuse at an Oakland Park halfway house, which first aired earlier today, yet exposes the mere tip of an iceberg inside of which systemic negligence and corruption have been frozen for years.
Here’s a link to her story, the basic background for which was provided by October 22nd Alliance: http://www.local10.com/news/sober-home-program
While Arms of Hope has now been exposed as the arms of hell which it is, the failure of government policy and oversight which allow such places to exist are yet a long way from being meaningfully addressed. More essentially, the backwardness and fundamental inequality of our system, which rewards the corrupt beneficiaries of capitalism while it punishes poor and homeless folk with laws that criminalize and marginalize them to the outer edges of society, are the real culprits which too rarely get called out.
Screenshot of Arms of Hope website wiped clean
hours after we visited Oakland Park location.
From county and regional Continuum of Care (CoC) Boards, which oversee and fund homelessness programs, to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies which provide the funds. oversight is systemically overlooked.
The CoC’s claim they have ‘discharge plans’ to obtain funding, while what those plans often entail is sending sick people from hospitals, behavioral health facilities and jails to the street. Or to hellholes like Arms of Hope, which Broward County institutions like Fort Lauderdale (psych) Hospital (and many others, according to interviews we conducted) never vetted before referring their needy clients into the halfway house’s abusive grasp.
HUD, meanwhile, is blind to these failures as it allows a series of checked boxes on its funding application to determine whether the CoC’s actually have discharge plans which don’t include people being exiled to the streets or to places like Arms of Hope. Other institutional players, like the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) also can be called to task.
As Local 10’s story describes, BSO deputies responded to 200 calls last year at Arms of Hope’s Oakland Park location. But while BSO deputies were aware of a wide range of crimes and abuse at the facility, having been there an average of four times per week through 2015, it apparently never occurred to any of them that a deeper investigation might be called for.
It also happens that the current chair of Broward’s CoC Board is BSO Captain Scott Russell. When confronted with possible BSO failure of accountability regarding Arms of Hope’s ongoing abuse at last month’s CoC meeting, Russell rejected that suggestion out of hand.
We look forward to a more sensitive and actionable response, in the wake of this story’s airing, at the February meeting of the CoC next Wednesday.