New York Shitty Photo Du Jour: Blood Money

January 25, 2013 ·
Filed under: 10002, Chinatown, Chinatown Manhattan, Street Art 

bloodmoney

From the Bowery.

THIS WEEKEND: Rally For The G!

rallyforthgNYS

 

This upcoming Sunday, January 27th, starting at 1:00 p.m. Senators Squadron and Dilan among other elected officials will be conducting a rally for better G train service. You can RSVP for this event as well as get more information by clicking here. Check it out!

Rally For A Better G Train
January 27, 2013 starting at 1:00 p.m.
Metropolitan Avenue at Union Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Notes From The Respite Center Community “Forum”

January 24, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

lettertolentolNYS

 

NOTE/CAVEAT: It was agreed that any/all press (including “blogs”) refrain from posting commentary from the attendees present. I intend to respect this.* However, there was plenty of very informative information tendered by Councilman Levin, Rami Metal, representatives of the Department of Homeless Services, Common Ground and Pastors Kansfield and Aull. This I will endeavor to share. For the sake of simplicity I have opted to organize the two hours worth of “discussion” by topic. If there is anything I missed or mistook, please let me know via comments!

Exactly how did this facility come into being?

The Greenpoint Homeless Task Force

It was explained to everyone present (albeit in a discontinuous fashion) this respite shelter is the culmination of several years of work on the part of a number of people. Mr. Levin’s “right hand man”, Rami Metal, in his previous capacity as the same under David Yassky (Levin’s predecessor) started something called the Greenpoint Homeless Task Force. He did so because he was disturbed by the number of homeless men residing in our public spaces (parks) and waterfront. This body, which includes employees of Outreach, the 94th Precinct, The Department of Health (because a number of our homeless have issues with addiction), the Parks Department (because that is where Greenpoint’s homeless tend to congregate/live), among many others came together with the common goal of addressing Greenpoint’s homeless problem.

The first step in this process was actually identifying exactly how many homeless (men) there are in Greenpoint and learn who they are. To this end Common Ground was brought in. For those of you who are not in the know, Common Ground has a contract with our fair city and does all of its homeless outreach. INTERESTING FACT/ASIDE: one can call 311 and (for wont of a nicer way of putting it) alert the city of a homeless person in his/her community. The operator will ask the caller to give a detailed description and an outreach team will be dispatched within two hours. Outreach discerned that there are fifteen bone fide homeless individuals in Greenpoint and got to know them. Presently ten of these men are using the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church on a daily basis. In other words: this respite center is not seeing a “revolving door” in terms of occupancy— but I am getting ahead of myself.

Communication with the Department of Homeless Services

Upon entering office Councilman Levin took up the matter of creating a shelter (and I am using the term quite loosely) for these individuals with the head of the Department of Homeless Services: Robert Hess. He seemed amenable to the idea and stated if a location could be found for such a facility, he would fund it. However, Mr. Hess was replaced by (the current head) Seth Diamond. He did not seem as enthusiastic so the matter was tabled.

This changed once it became apparent that at least one homeless man a year was dying due to hypothermia for wont of a safe, warm place to sleep. The rather brutal assault which came to pass in McCarren Park last summer also made it clear something needed to be done. So the plans for a respite center were made a priority.

Initially the Church of the Ascension was to be the location for this facility. Reverend Merz negotiated with the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground (among others) an agreement was made in regards to funding and it seemed to be a “go”. However, Mr. Merz had to withdraw. His reason for doing so was a very sound one: he had a contract pending with a developer to utilize unused FAR for the “public hall” of his church. Given that churches in general are strapped for cash, this makes sense. However due to this turn of events, he could not obligate to the six month minimum contract as required by the Department of Homeless Services. He had to withdraw. Thus, it was “shopped around” to other churches in our community. The Greenpoint Reformed Church, despite serious trepidation (as was made quite clear by Ms. Kansfield and especially Ms. Aull), stepped up to the plate.

The final details for the respite shelter were finessed “two to three weeks” before Hurricane Sandy hit. The Nor’Easter which followed pushed the timetable forward. Thus, this facility was opened November 18th— apparently without Mr. Levin’s knowledge. However, the Greenpoint Reformed Church did announce it on their site. The contract they have (via Common Ground— the Department of Homeless Services cannot dispense funds directly to a religious organization) runs through June 2013 and it was made explicit therein that the Greenpoint Reformed Church has “veto power” over who can and more importantly— who cannot— “reside” at this respite shelter. Councilman Levin made repeatedly clear he was very apologetic as to the lack of awareness raising on his part. He claimed total responsibility and hoped (as did the other representatives present) that there will hopefully be better communication moving forward.

Exactly how does this “respite shelter” work?

First, let’s consider how it is different than 400 McGuinness. As a Department of Homeless Services representative explained (and this is keeping it very simple): there are shelters such as BRC’s assessment facility at 400 McGuinness (which are part of larger “system”) and ancillary shelters which are geared towards what she called “street homeless”. The objectives of both are the same: to provide homeless individuals shelter, treatment and, ultimately, permanent housing (more often than not, in SROs**).

The difference lies (at least in terms of the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church) in methodology. More specifically, the latter is local in scope and seeks to house individuals who are unwilling and unable to enter the “traditional” shelter system. The reasons for this are many. As it pertains to the respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church, the men they serve have language “issues” (READ: as Polish immigrants, they do not speak English fluently) and have addiction problems (alcoholism, mostly). While these men have “priority” in terms of shelter at BRC’s facility at 400 McGuinness (which assesses homeless men from the city in general), they have not elected to use it. Entering a shelter is purely voluntary; it cannot be forced. Like I previously wrote: the needs of these individuals are very specific and as such this respite shelter was created to address them.

The “nuts and bolts”

The respite center at the Greenpoint Reformed Church is staffed by two employees from Common Ground. As I previously stated, this is the organization which has been contracted by the city to do homeless outreach. They are the operators of this facility. Common Ground staff meet the ten homeless men in question at Greenpoint Avenue and Manhattan Avenue every evening at 9:00 p.m. They escort these fellows to the shelter. After dinner is served the beds are rolled out and they go to sleep. The employees stay with them. The following morning (at 5:40 a.m.), they escort these men back to Greenpoint Avenue and Manhattan Avenue. It was also noted they do patrols of Milton Street (between Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street) to ensure there is no malingering/”trouble”.

Does this respite shelter have a bathroom? (Because this being New York Shitty it deserves its own heading)

Yes it does! What’s more, the Department of Homeless Services has approved funding for a shower. The rationale for this is quite simple (and lest I have not made it clear via these notes thus far): as chronically homeless men, the goal is to get them sheltered and care so they can, hopefully, be “reintegrated” back into society. Obviously personal hygiene is essential to making this happen.

What will happen if/when the ten men at this facility presently are placed in permanent housing?

As it was noted by both representatives the Department of Homeless Services and Common Ground, this can take years to happen. However, the intent with the respite shelter at the Greenpoint Reformed Church is to target a specific homeless population: Greenpoint’s homeless population. When Greenpoint ceases to have homeless individuals, this facility will have served its purpose.

Since I have promised not to publish any of the discussion from tonight’s two hour meeting, there’s really not much more to write. HOWEVER, the Common Ground representative present, Doug Becht, made quite clear:

  • If anyone has problems of an urgent nature regarding the conduct of any of the men who use this facility, call the 311 (the police).
  • If anyone has concerns of a less severe but chronic nature, contact Common Ground at 347-573-1746.

In closing, it was announced there would be another community meeting in “about one month”. Those who signed up at this evening’s convocation will receive notice as to when this will happen. When I hear something, I’ll say something here.***

P.S.: For those of you who are wondering, here is a roster of public officials who turned out at tonight’s meeting: Linda Minucci (50th Assembly District Democratic Party Female Leader), Steve Levin (City Councilman for the 33rd District), a representative from Joe Lentol’s office and, in an albeit unofficial capacity (Community Board 1 was apparently not notified of this convocation), the Public Safety Chair of Community Board 1.

*With one exception. One attendee noted:

There is no application to be a member of the (this) community. (One does not) audition to be a member.

**Single Room Occupancy

**On a more provocative note, one attendee informed the Mister (who arrived late) that there will be a meeting of individuals opposed to the respite shelter January 31st. No further details were given.

New York Shitty Day Ender: Loud1

January 24, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Street Art 

LOUD1

From Banker Street.

New York Shitty Photo Du Jour: Crosby Street

January 24, 2013 ·
Filed under: New York City, SoHo, SoHo Manhattan, Street Art 

crosbystreet

Taken January 23, 2013.

New York Shitty Day Starter: The Word On The Street

January 24, 2013 ·
Filed under: 10002, Chinatown, Chinatown Manhattan, The Word On The Street 

jello

Taken January 23, 2013.

TOMORROW: Community Forum Regarding The “Respite Center”

January 23, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The one thing that irks me about this weather is not that the fact it is really fucking cold. It is. Rather, it is how it makes my digital camera go completely nuts. Nonetheless, I have managed piece together the announcement for tomorrow night’s “community meeting” (as spied on the gates of the Greenpoint Reformed Church):

January 7, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

I want to take this opportunity to apologize for the way in which information regarding the respite bed program at the Greenpoint Reformed Church was handled. It was not our intent to deceive or mislead you, or to not take your feelings or concerns into consideration. We want to be a good neighbor, and we recognize that what we do has an impact on those who live nearby.

Initial concern regarding the 10-bed program at the church was voiced to Assemblyman Lentol and Councilman Levin, and so they, along with the church, are sponsoring a community forum at 7pm on January 24, 2013 at the church – 136 Milton St. This will allow everyone an opportunity to communicate with one another regarding this situation.

Before Christmas, you may have received a letter that appeared to come from me. Whoever sent the letter excerpted some of what I had written on the church’s website, so it sounded like something I had sent, when in fact I had not. The letter included some factual information, but also some falsehoods.

To clarify, we are providing space for a 10-bed respite shelter program for Greenpoint’s local homeless population that is funded by the City and operated by Common Ground, a non-profit that specializes in working with homeless individuals. Before this program began, these men would sleep in American Playground, on Greenpoint Ave., or in McCarren Park. The program houses the same men each night, and they receive comprehensive case management through Common Ground.

The program operates from 9pm to 6am. To limit congregating along Milton Street, the men meet on the steps of St. Anthony’s at 9pm and are escorted down the block to the church. In the morning, they are escorted off the block. Two professional housing managers are with the men at all times and the men do not leave the church property during the night.

The city has allocated $100,000 for the whole program, the bulk of which goes to pay for two full-time employees being present with the men at all times. The city is only reimbursing the church for building-related costs to host the program. This amounts to 44% of utilities and some small expenses related to hiring someone to clean each day. This is no “windfall” for us.

We did not ask to house this program. For years, Father Czok allowed homeless men to sleep in the basement of St. Anthony’s at the top of Milton St. Upon Rev. Czok’s retirement, this option ceased to be available. The Church of the Ascension was going to host this program, but at the beginning of the fall they entered into a contract with a developer on their parish hall, which caused them to have to back out from hosting the program.

We recognize that our hunger program impacts the street. When it began, we could not have anticipated the number of people in need of food. Over the years, we have tried to learn from mistakes and to adapt in ways that lower the impact this has on your quality of life. Because of some of the concerns we have heard, we are making the following changes:

  • We will not receive large shipments of vegetables from City Harvest unless we are able to process and distribute them in less than 8 hours.
  • We are working with the Food Bank to ensure that our weekly delivery does not arrive before 9am. This may take several weeks to implement, but we are working on it.
  • To keep the line for the pantry as short as possible, we are going to try distributing food as quietly as possible earlier in the day. We do not know if this will work, but we will try it.
  • During the times when people come to the church for food, we will have someone walk the block to ensure that no one lingers or relieves him or herself.
  • We have asked all meetings that use the church not to congregate in front of the church and to enter and leave quietly.

I look forward to meeting with you on Jan. 24. If you see me on the block, feel free to talk with me. You can call me at 718-383-5941 or email ann@greenpointchurch.org. Like many of you, we are currently experiencing issues with our phone and email service thanks to Verizon. But I will do my best to respond to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Kansfield
Co-Pastor

Speaking as someone who has lived in this community for 13 years:

  • and has seen these men, our “local” (READ: Polish) homeless perhaps not literally, but figuratively— as long as I can remember
  • has read way too many stories about our “local” homeless dying of hypothermia or being beaten almost to death for simply being “homeless”

Let’s just say I have some very strong feelings about this endeavor. Let the voice of reason— not politics— prevail Greenpointers! Show up and speak up.

Community Forum Regarding the Respite Center
January 24, 2013 starting at 7:00 p.m.
Greenpoint Reformed Church
136 Milton Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

New York Shitty Day Ender: Urban Flora & Fauna

butterfly

butterfly2

dragonfly

flowers

 

twobirds

 

Only 56 days until spring!

From The New York Shitty Photo Pool, Part II: The Dream Team

January 23, 2013 ·
Filed under: Manhattan, New York City, SoHo, SoHo Manhattan 

CaffieneNicotine

Taken by Chudko.

New York Shitty Street Art Du Jour: Stikman

January 23, 2013 ·
Filed under: Chinatown, Chinatown Manhattan, Street Art 

stikman

Taken January 23, 2013.

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