Some Refuse to Accept Open Proposal on Shelter, the Park, and MHA

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I had an interesting time at dinner last week. As you may know I have never really criticized Hope Kitchen, since they do a good service providing us meals and pantry bags. My problem has been that their proposal calls for sharing funding with the bedbug infested mismanaged Oasis shelter (Mrs. Troum has stated in her before dinner speeches that she thinks the shelter would not necessarily get money, but this would be hard to do considering the facts that their name is listed on the ordinance as a equal party and opening the facility for more hours under their supervision would require funding. Not to mention Mr. Mosley's request for the proposal as a source of more money for the SHELTER at the council meeting. Speaking of which his staff were fired for stealing, fighting with clients up ect. not becuase of budget cuts, and he already hired replacements )

But this is too ridiculous. I sat down to eat last Wednesday, and was playing chess with an old friend when I was greeted by the "housing counselor" and Carol's assistant. Pushing past the interesting labels I received (apparently I am not homeless), I used the opportunity to ask the aforementioned "housing counselor" how many people she has helped in the last year. Fourteen she stated. She must have seen the look on my face, (I know a handful of people she has helped at most) Mistaking my surprise at the too high number for skepticism at it's lowness, she corrected herself with a "25". "Which is it, 14 or 25" I asked. "I run two grants" was her answer.

More interesting still was Mrs. Troums's repeated speeches on Wednesday and Friday ( I suspect we can look forward to one today as well.) telling her hungry clientele before serving dinner that there is a good chance that the council will vote today (Tuesday the 17th) to give her the money, making no mention of last week's decision. Mrs. Troum did go home early last week (to be fair she does live in the city) so she was not around to hear that there will be an open proposal process. But given the level of hostility I saw, I am going to guess that there was at least some knowledge.

Mrs. Troum does have every right to speak what she wishes under the first amendment, especially in her own facility, although given all the talk about listening to the homeless last week I do find it interesting how I was told "YOU are not allowed to speak" when I raised my hand to ask her a question. I would also like to clarify a point I overheard her discussing at length with other clients. I was not in jail three times the legal limit because I insulted the judge Mrs. Gail Rice, councilman Rices mother, nor was I nasty in the court room. Nor was it ok or legal that this occurred, nor was it my fault. To even suggest that holding someone for three times the legal limit is alright, or that I somehow deserved the treatment is ludicrous.

I did ask for a change of attorney but only because the one I was assigned visited me one day before my trial. I may have made someone angry by refusing to accept a deal to plead guilty, since my court date was postponed every time I declined, but I did do so politely. So I could not have been in jail past the legal limit for a civil code violation for courtroom nastiness to the judge (there is nothing in my record to indicate that I did so, nor do I think that anyone present even those not in agreement with me would agree that my behavior was in anyway rude), I am still not sure why I was in jail so long, but it was not for contempt of court.

Honestly this is part of a greater problem. What anyone disappointed by the outcome of the city council meeting should now be doing is preparing their pitch for the open proposal. WE won this fight fairly, and WE expect that the other side be obligated to play by the same rules. The best program needs to win be it Dimensions, Hope, or any other organization. If Hope and the shelter feel that they are the most qualified they should begin preparing to prove that instead of fighting to get a closed process again.

The mere fact that they do not want other programs presenting seems to suggest something. If they really feel they are the most qualified than why are they afraid to show their idea to the council and the public? AS for the city council I hope they stick with their collective decision both those who disagreed and agreed. Doing any less would be dishonorable. I would like to know why the city council's agenda for Tuesday still lists a vote on this ordinance. Is that how our city is run? If a decision is made that an individual doesn't like a do-over is called for the whole group? Is that Democracy? http://www.newrochelleny.com/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/687

I think the proposal period should be about 4 weeks and wind up at next months meeting with public presentations, and a vote at the legislative meeting the week after. There is no need to stretch this out, but there is a need to have a transparent, fair, and thorough process. I think that what the council showed was bipartisanship and concern. And positive change.

Two final notes. There has recently been talk about city code violations at the library park after dark. I understand the rule and it's safety based motivation. The shelter does open at 8:30. But it is a crowded, bedbug infested shelter, and a lot of the homeless want to spend the least amount of time there we can. I know some of the people who got loitering tickets. Those I spoke to do not want their names shared. But it is going to be very hard for them to pay those tickets off. They are sober, calm people, they were sitting quietly. In a crowded park. I do respect the NRPD, and I know they have a tough job. If they are going to clear out the park I understand. But please issue warnings before giving tickets, at least for first time offenders and please talk to all, rich and poor, homeless, and housed. My friends were the only ones who got ticketed. The punishment should be for the violation, not for lack of a house. I really hope that those tickets are dropped.

Lastly. These issues with the MHA are no surprise to a lot of my friends. Section eight has been for the most part closed for years. I know people who have been on the waiting list for two or three years, and others who have gotten housing after a few days on the list when it rarely opens up. What I did not know is that one of the board members is Mr Dawkins, the head of New Rochelle's' Cap center which oversees the shelter, also known as the man who spat on me, had me arrested and later dropped the charges. He was appointed by the city manager. Just something to think about.

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