As you know last month the New Rochelle city council reversed their vote to have an open proposal on the issue of extra funding for Oasis shelter and decided to give the money to Oasis and Hope neither of which have the effective experience to run a housing program if the poor conditions at the shelter (bedbugs, leak in the ceiling etc.) are to be any indication. They stated it was to get the homeless inside quickly though we still all feel that the city’s newfound concern for us is more aesthetic than genuine. Yet the program was not slated to start until January plenty of time for an open proposal. Under pressure, after the last article in the City Review paper the city is suddenly starting the program next month, as they will decide tonight at their city council meeting under the guise of budget reallocation. This is taxpayer money and there should be a more official public forum as well as meetings with actual homeless people (open to anyone, not handpicked by the shelter) instead of officials talking for us.
I want to briefly address something. The man Mayor Bramson named as his expert on homelessness, (Karl Betrand) did start the first homeless shelter in Westchester years ago, one which has remained decent compared with Oasis (Sharing Community), but it concerns me that he has stated that there are no more than three homeless veterans in New Rochelle now (He stated at the open city council meeting that it was a shame that there was three homeless veterans in New Rochelle, since Yonkers only has one. (I have stayed at the shelter in Yonkers, and I am obviously usually in New Rochelle, both those numbers disturb me, he has since repeated this claim.) And none of us (the New Rochelle homeless) have ever met him before this event. http://cityreviewnr.com/hope-gets-homeless-resource-center/ http://westchester.news12.com/news/patriot-housing-inititiative-hosts-barbecue-for-veterans-in-ridge-road-park-1.8691243. (read the three, and six numbers) (There are not only nine homeless veterans in all of Westchester county, I can think of more in New Rochelle off the top of my head.) None of those I spoke to have heard of the organization, though it is possible that this is because of the lack of information found at Oasis.
The women who spends most of the time talking in that clip is not Mr. Betrand, not a veteran but Carole Troum Hope’s director, Hope does not itself run a veterans specific service of any kind, even if they do support Mr. Betrand’s work. Obviously Mr. Betrand’s organization is doing good if they have housed as many veterans as the numbers they are giving show, and I commend them for that, and it was definitely good of Hope to aid with the food at the event they held last weekend. But this sub-issue is a much bigger problem than is being discussed and demonstrates that more knowledge is needed by those who work with homelessness in this county.
And I ask again referencing the day program, how exactly does the city or the shelter, or Hope for that matter think that 100,000 will pay for two extra meals seven days a week for 75 people, gas for two vans, a salary for the new caseworker they claim to be hiring, as well as increased salaries for Carole, her housing counselor, Mr. Mosely and Mr. Barrows at Oasis and workers to cook lunch and watch over the shelter, not to mention the increased rent and electricity costs of TWO buildings. So far we have not seen any open plan of how those funds will be spent. Of course Dimensions who has been doing this for 18 years already has a place to run the program and is open until 6 but the city would prefer we just forget that.
I recently heard a story about a person going up to a council man at the farmers market about a week and a half ago and expressing their displeasure with this idea. He told her it was “too late” to change anything since they were going to start in August. Let’s prove the politicians wrong. Come speak at the open council meeting tonight at 7 and tell the council how you feel. We will also be having a rally sometime in the coming weeks I will post the details of where and exactly when soon, but you can email me if you would like to come. ([email protected]) We need as many people as possible to speak out about the injustice that is being done to the homeless. I hope you will add your voices to ours.
Finally on a separate note, I want to add that a few of my friends are coming up to their court dates for being in the park after dark. Not drinking, not vandalizing. Sitting quietly in the park, and using a computer in the case of one man I know. This is also unjust. The park was crowded. Only the homeless got tickets. I hope we also get to see those tickets dropped. This will help show if this city’s primary concern is helping the homeless, or helping the rest of New Rochelle not to see us.