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Homeless and Housing Meeting RECAP September 6, 2022

(MSCC) Sharon Jasprizza, Posted September 29, 2022

SUMMARY 

Marc Greenberg: The Street Homeless Advocacy Project (SHAP) outreach development program. Julie Chou: The Public Bathroom Initiative. Rob Robinson: Housing First Policy, “Housing Based on People’s Real Income” not on AMI, do not use the words:”Affordable Housing”, The human right to a home outweighs the right of a speculator or a developer to profit from housing

CHAIR: Sharon Jasprizza 

WELCOME / INTRODUCTIONS / PURPOSE 

John Mudd, (MSCC) welcomed members and new members and outlined the purpose of meeting 

POLICY MEETING UPDATES 

Sharon Jasprizza, (MSCC) outlined the discussion from the prior 8.30 AM Policy Meeting: 

  • Traditional Medicare: A must see video Protecting Medicare from Wall Street at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBK20oYTL8E
  • Health Committee’s progress with preparatory campaign tools: Fact sheet, press release, market plan, and more, to educate and safeguard the public
  • Updates on The planning and purposes (gratitude, build more unity and introduce  possibilities) of MSCC Urban Farm Twilight Festival for Thursday Sept 8, 2022  

MSCC AUGUST PROGRESS REPORT

  • Urban farm continued to produce fresh food; although smaller quantity compared to last year
  • The new gardening project, Furthermore Farm, in the Hudson Valley began with tilling the soil, planting seeds and young greens for harvesting 
  • The continual discussions with our networks and outside the silos of organizations, of the social determinants of health such as lack of access to healthy foods and stable housing, provided further direction and clarity of the importance of pursuing a One Stop Shop (various partners from our network located under one roof)
  • The Health committee continued to meet and updates were made to the Press Release, information sheets, social media content and postcards. Further outreach to groups concerned about the takeover of Traditional Medicare by Wall Street. The outreach to groups for presentations to inform people of the challenges Traditional Medicare faces, and the consequences of losing it, began
  • Development of 3 workshops for the MSCC Twilight Festival and booking Carla Cherry, NYC poet, author, writer and teacher, as the Guest Artist for the event. MSCC developed three workshops for the event with Francine Perlman, Elizabeth and Enrica Sacca. The October Highlights will present more detail about these and how the MSCC workshops are connectors to our communities suffering from the lack of basic human rights. The marketing materials and outreach for the event have been extensive
  • Penn Station developments included further rallies, meetings with officials and more rallies
  • UnlockNYC tools for connecting people to report issues with discrimination such as Source of Income (SOI) are not available on the MSCC website at midtownsouthcc.org and in every newsletter
  • The MSCC newsletter continues to inform, connect, provides resources and updates on our work. Many of our highlights and successes can be found there also

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND OR UPDATES: 

Marc Greenberg, Interfaith on Homeless Housing (IAHH) spoke about The Street Homeless Advocacy Project (SHAP) initiative 

  • SHAP is a 4 week pilot program which began after Mayor Adams implemented Homeless Sweeps
  • This street outreach program focuses on placing people in places where they want to go, rather than to inappropriate places such as Bellevue or Ward Island
  • HRA team members are also involved in this outreach work with IAHH
  • The SHAP team leader of the Midtown site for this initiative sets up an outdoor living room each Thursday night on 135 West 31st Street in front of St Francis of Assisi. (St Francis of Assisi, since 1930 at 7.00 AM, has supported around 150 people every day with coffee, sandwich, juice fruit, six, hand sanitizes)
  • Last week 6 people visited the living room and were placed in a new and stable housing location
  • One story last week concerned two people who were to be sent to Bellevue. Marc spoke with Gail Brewer who then spoke with the Commissioner at HRA. The Commissioner agreed that Bellevue was not appropriate. As a consequence one person was sent to the new drop in center on 14th Street run by CUCS, and the other person went to a shelter in the Bronx. One of the two people, a young 21 year old male who had been on the street for over 12 months had previously been sent to Wards Island, which is not appropriate and as a consequence the young man was hesitant to be sent to another inappropriate place
  • Marc’s team is interested in working on strategies to develop relationships with people and track their housing. One initiative is for the City to provide a $30 Cell phone for people to stay in contact and be supported long term
  • Marc is looking for volunteers to support the work and expand the program
  • Marc and the team meets once a week with City officials at City Hall. This Thursday Marc’s team is giving recommendations to the Mayor
  • Suggestions include: the City open up more stabilization bed programs;  Faith Communities open up Stabilization beds;  and specialized beds open up for the  elderly, LGBQT people
  • Email Marc at nyccshap@gmail.com to volunteer and support the initiative

Discussion and Chatbox Information

  • John Mudd (MSCC) suggests that a number of people in the MSCC network will definitely want to be involved such as Shower Power
  • Marni Halasa (MSCC) spoke about people with asthma and other health issues who had been sent to Wards Island previously. Legal Aid supported them and found more appropriate places for them. Chatbox information from Marni Halasa “Josh Goldfein from The Legal Aid Society at (212) 577-3414. Unhoused people who are asthmatic, have anxiety or take psychotropic drugs can get a “reasonable accommodation” so the city is mandated to provide them with their own hotel room. This was a game changer for many of the guys on 40th street. This is a much better solution for people with such health issues”
  • Sharon Jasprizza, (MSCC) spoke about Evie Litwok’s work with people who have been incarcerated and will put Marc in touch with her because of Evie’s Suitcase program where people are given phones, laptops etc. as they leave prison to support their next steps finding housing and work

Laurie Hardjowirogo, Scheduler/Constituent Liaison, NYC Council Member Erik Bottcher,

  • The new Safe Haven, Paul’s Place, 14th Street (between 6th and 7th) and near the Salvation Army, has 24 beds (walls do not go all the way to the ceiling, but the rooms are individual rooms). It began with 12 people last week and another 12 people in the coming weeks (see Chat discussions of rmore details).
  • Charisma White (MSCC) raised the topic of safety issues in Safe Havens and the need for permanent housing rather than transitional housing. Housing is the solution and must be the focus
  • John Mudd (MSCC) spoke about the CUS Safe Havens being safe and needed. John agreed with Charisma that Housing is the solution

Discussion and Chatbox Information

  • Chatbox information from Laurie Hardjowirogo: “Paul’s Place will be staffed 24 hours, including clinical social workers, plus primary medical care and behavioral/psychiatric care personnel. Medical staff will be able to help individuals take their previously prescribed medications. The Paul’s Place drop-in center can serve up to 75 people at once. Paul’s Place, includes a 24-hour drop-in center, plus what is known as a “Safe Haven” site. At the drop in center homeless individuals will be able to drop in at the ground-floor space and get a shower and something to eat. They’ll be able to do their laundry in washing machines. There will also be 70 recliner-style lounge chairs that people can sleep in overnight, if they like”

Julie Chou, Vice Chair, Budget Education City Services, Manhattan Community Board 5 jchou@pxdarchitects.com

  • The Bathroom initiatives team includes Renee Kinsella and Allen Oster
  • Picture the Homeless notified the City in 2018 that there were still 15 ATPs being ware housed in Queens for the past 15 years
  • The team put together a report stating there were only 1,100 public bathrooms in NYC for a population of 8.5 million people, i.e. 1 pubic bathroom for 7,700 people. This does not include the 60 million annual tourists in NYC
  • There are only 2 public bathrooms available 24/7 in NYC
  • Julie worked with MSCC in 2019 on a list of public bathrooms. Some of these bathrooms have not been opened since the pandemic
  • The Pandemic raised the need for bathrooms. The City Council is introducing legislation for public bathrooms and a number of Community Boards have formed a working group
  • The group has come up with several ideas for improving public bathrooms
  • Starbucks is looking at closing their bathrooms to the Public
  • Legislation that was presented in July 2022 is asking DOT and DPR to provide a study locating a bathroom for each zip code in the City. This study will be done over 1 year and in consultation with the CBs
  • When Council Member Rodriguez, (now the DOT Commissioner) was doing public hearings for one of the last APTs in upper Manhattan there was a lot of community opposition to APTs. There is a need for communities to work tighter and bring other CBs into the discussion to address the concerns about public bathrooms
  • APTs cannot be installed in Times Square because 5 foot of space is needed under an APT unit. There are many subway lines under Times Square and the security issue is also a concern for NYPD

Discussion and Chatbox Information

  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC),asked for the list of active public bathrooms to add to the NYC Help health and hygiene section. Chat Box from Rue:  “Wasn’t there plans to put a public atrium in the Times Building? Wouldn’t there be bathrooms in there?”
  • Tina Fernandez, (Shower Power), outlined the Shower Power services and availability of bathrooms at their locations
  • Nancy Young, (Fountain House), spoke with Senator Gilliland and the Times Square Alliance, recently at Fountain House’s Recharge Station in Times Square, about the need for a public bathroom. The issue of expense for a full time staffer is the biggest barrier.  The closest bathroom is Bryant Park which is challenging for folks in Times Square
  • Allen Oster, (CB4), spoke about the need to discuss the restrictions and siting APTs with people reviewing legislation
  • John Mudd, (MSCC), spoke about hotel plazas being public and that public bathrooms should be mandatory in these public places
  • Community Member spoke about the challenges for Starbucks’ mangers of drug use and overdoses in their bathrooms 
  • Chat Box from Rue Parkin: “Drug use shouldn’t be a determinant of the necessity of public bathrooms”

ACTIONS

Julie Chou

  • will share the list of public bathrooms (attached)
  • will share “Solutions that would Improve Access to Public Toilets” (attached) for feedback from the committee and to add to the MSCC’s  newsletter
  • invited the members to the meetings and to be part of the coalition
  • will email the presentation to MSCC to share with the group (attached)
  • will email John information about the issue and meeting dates to share in the newsletter and to invite others to the meetings
  • will discuss with Tina Fernandez the coalition building further for public bathroom advocacy
  • will connect with Nancy Young  to support the coalition work

Bennett Reinhardt, Open Hearts Initiatives, bennett@openheartsinitiative.org

  • Midtown Open Hearts, a chapter of the Open Hearts Initiative, welcomes and supports homeless neighbors in Midtown by mobilizing resources, building relationships across housing status, and advancing policy advocacy at the neighborhood level,openheartsinitiative.org
  • The Donation Drive coordinated with the City Council for asylum seekers was very successful last week
  • Open Hearts is working on welcome cards for families in hotels
  • Open Hearts is also working with the City to progress Public Bathrooms

ACTIONS

Aja Tyler, Ryan Health Chelsea Clinton

  • Back to School drive will be either Sept 10 or Sept 24 
  • Updates on vaccination events will be available soon

ACTIONS

  • Aja Tyler will send updates to MSCC

Rue Parkin | Help NYC, rue.parkin@helpNYC.org

HOUSING VOUCHER INITIATIVE 

COMMUNITY OUTREACH

  • helpNYC is now in the community doing community outreach.  If you would like helpNYC to do outreach at your event please email us at outreach@helpNYC.info.

PANTRY BAG FLYER PROGRAM

  • helpNYC is looking for food assistance programs that would allow us to put our outreach materials in their takeaway bags.  We also will send out 1 or 2 volunteers to help with this effort.  Please email outreach@helpNYC.info for more information.

STREET SHEETS

  • helpNYC is coordinating with organizations citywide to produce Street Sheets for New Yorkers in need. The sheets will be updated, printed, and distributed to community partners and others would like to use the sheets in their work.  Please sign up for the helpNYC Community Updates to be notified when the Street Sheets will be available. https://www.helpnyc.org/updates.

LIST WITH helpNYC!  

FREE RESUME.IO MEMBERSHIPS

  • Underserved New Yorkers are able to receive a free one-year membership to Resume.io, the #1 Resume Creation and Submission platform in the world, through a partnership with helpNYC.  Interested New Yorkers can get their free one-year membership to Resume.io by completing the enrollment form at https://www.helpnyc.info/resume.

MONKEYPOX RESPONSE & INFORMATION

  • helpNYC has activated their Emergency Response Network to respond to ongoing outbreak of the Monkeypox Virus in New York City.  New Yorkers can find official information about Monkeypox prevention, symptoms, testing, treatment, and vaccinations at https://helpnyc.link/monkeypox.

DRAG BINGO WITH CANDY SAMPLES

  • Back by popular demand helpNYC presents Drag BINGO with Candy Samples!  This benefit is raising money for the work of helpNYC.  Tickets start at $25.00 and are on sale now at https://helpnyc.link/3TvgkJd.

OPEN DATA REPORT

FLIPPING THE SCRIPT at the Intersection of Mental Health and Homelessness Webinar

USER SURVEY

  • If you have used the helpNYC.info Resource Navigator in the last six months please complete the helpNYC.info User Navigator Survey at https://www.helpnyc.org/survey
  • If you have used the helpNYC.info Resource Navigator in the last six months please complete the helpNYC.info User Navigator Survey at https://www.helpnyc.org/survey
  • Please complete the survey.  We are offering Starbucks Gift Certificates.

MSCC TWILIGHT FESTIVAL EVENT 

BUILDING SOLIDARITY

Rob Robinson, Radical Housing Journal, Picturing The Homeless, Building International Solidarities, by Rob Robinson, the New School, Erin McElroy, University of Texas at Austin. rob.robinson423@gmail.com, 646-509-9986

  • Lived experience in shelters and has worked all over the world on the issue of homelessness
  • Works on steering committee for Global Institute for Homelessness trying to figure out the global problem of homelessness
  • Aaron McElroy, PHD Student, University of California, and the Radical Urbanism Journal  interviewed Rob about the global crisis
  • The amount of money that goes into homelessness is large and needs to be redirected into areas that will change conditions of homelessness substantially
  • Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sends 100 to 150 million dollars into New York for shelter plus care i.e. shelter housing. Rob travelled to Washington DC to speak with HUD about the issues of transitional housing being purely a holding bay and that the amount of money spent on holding bays was not solving the problem. As a result HUD made transitional housing to the lowest funding stream. Shelter providers changed their programs from shelter housing to permanent supportive housing. Thus resources need to be looked at and where they are directed so that the funding does not become easy money for providers who will continue the homeless problem for profits
  • Safe Havens will work if they use the Housing First Policy
  • Wrap around services are needed for people requiring mental health and medical services
  • St Francis of Assisi for 70 years has been providing handouts at 7.00 AM. This illustrates we are doing something wrong. The problem should have been fixed well before 70 years has passed
  • The richest country in the world can’t provide free Health Care as other countries do. The issues are linked and one leads to another
  • The Constitution, written 400 years ago, emphasizes land and property rights over the rights of people. This is wrong and housing will only be solved when the land underneath it is decontrolled. Land rights are expansive at $600 per square foot 

Discussion and Chatbox Information

  • Sharon Jasprizza (MSCC) spoke to the disinvestment in infrastructure to include housing and bathrooms in New York compared to other world cities
  • Rob Robinson raised the strategy of Direct Action in Civil Disobedience as a way of forcing change. The racial serration still permeates out communities
  • John Mudd, (MSCC) asked about vacant land and buildings in NYC. Rob noted there are not many in NYC
  • Rob Robinson told the story of being on Brian Lehrer story on NPR where he stated he “could empty the shelter system in one foul sweep”. Brian asked Rob “how?”  Rob referred to an empty 40 story building one block from the radio station with electricity and running water. The next day there was razor wire and security guards around the building Rob had referred to on the Brian Lehrer show
  • Rob Robinson was positive about The City’s current work of trying to capture the 160 hotels that have been shut down and that it is making a genuine effort to turn them into housing
  • Luana Green, (Chelsea Socialist Democratic Club), psalm316.lg@gmail.com, spoke about the AMI and the issues of many people not fitting in the AMI categories. The AMI eliminates a large population from obtaining housing. Rents are becoming too high in all boroughs
  • Rob Robinson recently spoke with Hakeem Jeffries, 8th Congressional District of New York about AMI and is hoping to connect with others to pursue the AMI challenges. It’s annoying when The City gives developers incentives to put up buildings and not consider housing for people based on their real income. We need housing for people with less than $30,000. Do not use the term “Affordable Housing” but rather “We want housing based on people’s real income”. We need to deconstruct the system and in order to do this, we need to know how it’s constructed. 
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2022/05/06/one-times-square-to-undergo–500-million-renovation
  • Allen Oster, (CB4): “most of the housing is now being built in East New York and Jamaica”
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “I saw a $4.5M Apartment on YouTube that is in a tax-abatement building which lowered their property tax to $53/year!”
  • Laurie Hardjowirogo, (NYC Council Member Erik Bottcher): “The AMI for all cities across the country is defined each year by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)”
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “FUN FACT: Eleanor Roosevelt introduced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.  The US delegation voted three times against the resolution”
  • John Mudd, (MSCC): “Wealth through housing is bred into us”
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “I would go one more step…land ownership establishes wealth….it’s a colonial thing”
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “We should return to the FDR Four Freedoms which we lost in the 1960’s” “FDR and the Four Freedoms Speech: https://www.fdrlibrary.org/four-freedoms”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights

  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “Return to teaching CIVICS in School….middle school through high school”
  • Marni Halasa, (MSCC): “Very problematic. Community boards (like CB4) notoriously act in the interest of home owners, rather than renters. Appointed by elected officials”
  • Lawrence Wheatman, (Community member): https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC): “First Step: Repeal 402a and block any legislation until the abatements expire” “Second Step: Base housing costs on the FPL not the AMI”
  • Charisma White, (MSCC) : “Places like shelter and SROs and safe havens separate family and often kills our young generation”
  • Marni Halasa, (MSCC): “After listening to Robert, think the conversation here should be primarily directed towards solutions to attain permanent housing vs band aid solutions”
  • Charisma White, (MSCC): “Just as fast as we can put up new tourist attractions we could house people”
  • John Mudd, (MSCC)  spoke about the real need of reviewing the AMI Or rather do we really need it? It does nothing for people who need housing and a lot for the landlords and developers
  • Rob Robinson once asked Mayor Bloomberg, at a meeting for homeless and housing advocates, if he ever slept on a piece of cardboard. Rob asks how do people without lived experience, make policy about those who do sleep on a piece of cardboard. The fight for human rights is constant struggle. International Human Rights Laws exist, yet the USA does not embrace them
  • Rob Robinson noted that home ownership, in the current economy, is not the way to wealth because of many of the taxes for owning a house, incurs inherent debt
  • Rue Parkin, (HelpNYC) noted that Malcom X wanted Dr King to pursue Human Rights not Civil Rights. But because of the political nature of this country, Dr King thought civil rights would be easier to achieve
  • Rob Robinson focused on the human right to a home outweighs the right of a speculator or a developer to profit from housing. The constitution and Judges need to be challenged that a human being does not have the right to a home
  • Charisma White (MSCC) spoke about the redevelopment of downtown Brooklyn without housing and asks how to change this direction?
  • Rob Robinson spoke about the need to know about electoral politics, to challenge and educate people in office and the community. Rob spoke about people in office and on community boards do not have the knowledge of how the development process works
  • John Mudd, (MSCC),  asked about the definition for affordable housing
  • Rob Robinson replied with the need to use metrics. For instance people who are on a disability allowance of $800, it is important for this metric to be used. Housing is needed to be based on people’s real income
  • Rob Robinson spoke to the need for people to educate others about the issue of Nimbyism and referred to the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning and the community backlash. See the article Rob referred to at City Limits’ David Brand talks Bruckner Boulevard rezoning, By Joseph Konig The Bronx, UPDATED 11:30 PM ET Sep. 03, 2022 PUBLISHED 9:15 PM ET Sep. 02, 2022: Outspoken local community members are fiercely opposing a rezoning of Bruckner Boulevard in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx, despite the approval of the City Planning Commission and the support of Mayor Eric Adams.

City Councilmember Marjorie Velázquez has even received violent threats, the Bronx Times reported, despite her opposition to the rezoning proposal in its current form.

City Limits reporter David Brand joined Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Friday to discuss the conflict over the rezoning, why it’s so intense, and Mayor Eric Adams’ recent decision to back out of an event supporting the proposal.

“Some of it is straight up NIMBYism distilled,” Brand explained, referencing the label “not in my backyard” often applied to anti-development community activists. “Some of that is racist, classist opposition. And then there’s kind of a more nuance opposition that says that 

‘well this is a potential Trojan horse. If you rezone this section of our low-density area, now you’re going to come for my block.'”

https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/inside-city-hall/2022/09/03/city-limits–david-brand-talks-bruckner-boulevard-rezoning

ACTIONS

  • Rob Robinson will connect with Luana Green to continue the conversation regarding deconstructing the system
  • Sharon Jasprizza, (MSCC) will reach out to Kristen Jordan, New York City Council, District 9, to invite her to the conversation with Rob and our coalition. Kristen spoke at a recent Homeless and Housing meeting and is interested in speaking with communities about the AMI and deconstructing the system also
  • Email Rob Robinson for further information, advocate for human rights and to join the fight for housing based on metrics at rob.robinson423@gmail.com, 646-509-9986

ANNOUNCEMENTS / EVENTS

  • Sharon Jasprizza, (MSCC) thanked the committee for the very generous response to the MSCC request for funding for the burial costs for Charisma White’s son last month. The GoFundMe campaign exceeded the amount requested within the first 6 hours
  • Sharon Jasprizza asked people to email community concerns to John and Sharon
  • Sharon Jasprizza, (MSCC), invited members to the MSCC Twilight Festival to be held this coming Thursday, September 8, 2022 at the MSCC Urban Farm in Midtown. The newsletter has more information 
  • John Mudd, (MSCC), updated the committee on the new farm and the future for the MSCC Urban Farm Program
  • John Mudd, (MSCC), spoke about Josiah Haken’s new book, Neighbors With No Doors
  • Sharon Jasprizza invited people to the MSCC AGM to be held on Thursday, October 20, 2022. The invitation and zoom link to the AGM is in the newsletters

AOB

NEXT Meeting Homeless and Housing Meeting: 9:30 AM Tuesday, October 4, 2022 

Always the 1st Tuesday of every month

Contact hello@midtownsouthcc.org or john.mudd@usa.net for more information and Zoom invitations.