First of all, it is exciting how much attention to charity the North Avenue Mile is bringing to New Rochelle. This author hopes that Hope earns enough funding to help out with their soup kitchen program that does a good service by feeding a bunch of us three or four times a week.
Saying that, it is still just as ridiculous to grant Hope and Oasis a joint contract to run a "Homeless Resource Center" as they now have dubbed it as it was before all of this, and it will be as long as the Oasis shelter mismanages the funding it has. A place infested with bedbugs, missing donations, and intimidation (the shelter) does not exactly qualify as a good candidate for the national movement to END homelessness (but the movement to perpetuate homelessness owes them several shiny trophies). My issue is with Oasis being a partner in the grant, not Hope, but I do want to say that as grateful as we are for it's food related services, a good soup kitchen does not automatically translate into a good case management agency, despite what the mayor's blog (complete with Hope's logo in the corner) claims. http://www.noambramson.org/2014/06/ending-homelessness/
I expand on Oasis's many issues in my last article, Hope has less. Even the most experienced agency could have issues running a program combined with Westcop's mismanagement. But there are definitely a few. It is knowledgeable about running a soup kitchen and a food pantry. But they have only started providing other services in the last few years. They have one housing program coordinator who has been working there less than five years, Mrs. Troum has only run the agency for about four years herself. I do not know many formerly homeless people who have gotten housing with their help, a few does not experience make. My main issue is with the shelter getting more funding since they are not helping ANYONE, http://www.newrochelletalk.com/content/homeless-person-speaks-about-new-... but this is relevant as well. We need someone with the right kind of experience to run this grant.
The mayor wrote an blog on the proposal after my first article was published last week. Among other things it claims that the proposal is based on homeless solutions around the country. One such solution compared was Nashville's (from the Times article.) It chose six or seven different organizations to partner with. According to the website, their initiative is HOUSING FIRST, the coalition gets people sec. eight, and pays their first months rent. The mayor is right about one thing. That sounds like the kind of program New Rochelle ought to have. How it relates to giving $65,000 dollars to two organizations to run a day program is more dubious. http://howsnashville.org/housing-strategy/ We too need funds to be given either to an effective rehousing program, or just directly to housing.
We do need a day program in the meantime but the Oasis shelter is not qualified to help run it. It should be housing based. It is interesting that the mayor instead lists one of the priorities of the program as an alternative place to hang out during the day, so you can't see us around town. Are we trying to get people out of this situation, or are we just trying to get them out of site, out of mind?
The avenrage salary for a clinical social worker is 50,000 dollars according to U.S.News.com http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/clinical-social-worker. I am sure that caseworkers make large amounts as well, if they are properly trained. So how, exactly is this proposal going to provide several of them, lunchtime meal, increased electricity costs, gas for the vans to pick us up if we dare to go on the street, and computers this would entail? And does the mayor's blog mention that he is on the local Westcop advisory board, as is most likely Ms. Troum?
Finally, the proposal listed on his blog calls Oasis, the bedbug infested, mismanaged shelter an organization that "has significant experience in the DELIVERY OF SERVICES to individuals in need." WE had a good laugh at that. So while it is very good that the mayor wants to join the national push to end homelessness, we need a program that fits the caliber of other city's programs, not a handout to a political connection (Westcop).
The mayor would like to decide this issue at the Cow at 3:45 on Tuesday before people get a chance to talk. This is not right. Unless there is something to hide, there is no reason not to have the open meeting first. Several city council members have told me that they would like to hear what people have to say, lets hope that the mayor listens. WE need support. The meeting starts at 3:45 and the citizens to be heard portion is at 7:00. The more of you who come, the better chance there is that the homeless will get a fair shake. We'll be there, I hope you all will be too.
Finally, a friend and I were at the race today. Just being pretty low key (with the spectators, he got some interesting comments about his t-shirt.) In reminiscence of my arrest for trespassing after I wrote a petition about the shelter I wore a t-shirt with a slogan on it too, because in this in this city I would probably be arrested again had I a sign.