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Homeless and Housing Recap For November 4, 2020

(MSCC) John Mudd, Sharon Jasprizza, Posted November 16, 2020

SUBJECT: Homeless and Housing Committee Meeting recap for Wednesday (moved for Election Day), November 4, 2020

Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Time: 9:30 am-10:30 am 

Chair person: Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC

WELCOME / INTRODUCTIONS

John Mudd welcomed everyone and spoke about the purpose of the meeting,. 

POLICY MEETING UPDATES

The prior 8:30 Homeless and Housing Policy meeting focused on language and talking points to direct the conversation of the Homeless and Housing crisis in the right direction for resolution. Additionally the committee discussed further the Model Budget (DHS), its shelter policies, implementation, and Comptroller’s audits (for details of the Policy Meeting see Addendum A).

SPECIAL INTRODUCTION(S) AND UPDATES:  

  • Nancy Young, Fountain House nyoung@fountainhouse.org, outlined the following: 1200 members, work with men and women with mental illnesses by providing opportunities for housing, work, education, and clients’ talents.  In-person support during the Pandemic with approx. 50% of clients who need social contact. Fountain House is reaching out to the committee and networks to provide support and opportunities. Becoming a member is simple, and www.fountainhouse.org
  • Charlene Kaloki, Ryan Chelsea Clinton, charlene.kaloki@ryanhealth.org spoke about their mobile health unit services (Go to ryanhealth.org) which includes: flu vaccines (6) days in November and December; project collaboration project with Breaking Ground to provide primary care every Wednesday. Charlene will send the flyers to John Mudd to forward to the group
  • Richard Perkins, Housing Works r.perkins@housingworks.org offers services and support for people living and affected by HIV/AIDs. Other available services: safe room for people; clothing closet. Showers and bathrooms are available Monday to Friday 9am-2:10pm. People are advised to arrive by 9:00 to sign up for a 15-minute slot.  Shower/hygiene kits are available. Housing Works 301 West 37th Street
  • Other bathroom Locations:
    • Positive Health Project (LGBT-Affirming) (301 West 37th Street)
    • Penn Station (on 7th Ave side)
    • Bryant Park (42nd Street Side of park, mid-block – open 12:00 PM-8:00 PM)
    • Bella Abzug Park (W. 36th St. & Hudson Blvd. E.)
    • Rockefeller Center (Lower Level Concourse between 48/49th street and 5/6 Avenue)
    • Heckscher Playground in Central Park (located in the southwest quadrant of central park, parallel to 7th Ave and 62nd Street)
    • Macy’s (151 West 34th – entrances on 7th and 6th Aves, 11-7 Daily)
    • Hudson Yards (36th Street and Hudson Blvd, between 10th/11th Ave, 8-4 Daily)
    • Greeley Square (32nd/ Broadway, 11-6 Daily)
    • Pier 83 (12th Avenue/Waterfront between 43rd/44th – between pier 83 and 84)
  • Allen Oster: Midtown South Community Council Board and Community Board 4: Public restrooms available at The Shed, 30th st. between 10th/11th avenues
  • Natalie Naculich, Housing Conservation Coordinators HCC, WSNA,  nnaculich@hcc-nyc.org, continues to fight evictions and lobby for Cancel Rent

SUPERVISE INJECTION SITES 

  • Emily Bartosek, Community Liaison/Scheduler, New York State spoke about the meeting our networks had with Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal regarding SIS (Supervised Injection Sites) legal: Senate Bill S498, 2019-2020 Relates to the enactment of the Safer Consumption Services Act. Emily pointed out with recent elections things could change, so a waiting period is needed to assess what is needed to lobby further. A need for the community to come together and educate and lobby further. 
  • Richard Perkins Housing Works discussed the specific outreach needed, and summed up the benefits of SIS to include: encourages safe drug use, reduces overdose deaths, increases contact for other services, and reduces the neighborhood problems.

Richard attended the meeting with Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal last week regarding the legislation for Safe Injection Sites More detail below follows.

  • Maria Ortiz, meortizlmsw@gmail.com, asked for SIS to be included as a full agenda item soon, to understand more and provide support where possible. 

MODEL BUDGET

Refer to the 8.30 am Policy recap for details (Addendum A).

HOUSING COMMITTEE AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Housing Committee’s Members (see Addendum B). Email John Mudd if you wish to join and work with this committee.

HOTEL ADAPTIVE REUSE FOR HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Ted Houghton, Gateway Housing, couldn’t be at this meeting but has reached out to Praxis Initiative: Hotel transformation to Adult Family Shelter, 3rd Avenue and 6th Street in Gowanus (see https://bklyner.com/shelter-for-adult-families-coming-to-gowanus-this-fall/ ). Hopefully they will be at the next meeting, Ted should have an update on progress 
  • David Acheles suggested the Hotel directly across the street from the Midtown South Precinct (the committee will look into it)
  • Shannon Luchs asked if the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) would be necessary with the conversion to SROs; Answer: The ULURP process is for zoning changes

FINANCING OPTIONS FOR HOUSING

  • Ted is developing a financial model for the capital outlays for an NFP purchasing a building. Ted will discuss this model in the future
  • Boris Santos, Community Land Trust (CLT) Initiative, bsantos914@gmail.com, outlined:
    • The financial and social crisis the State is experiencing (referencing the 9 billion city and 15 billion state fiscal shortfalls) and the future fiscal shortfalls
    • Additional ways forward for housing financing which included (1) raising taxes on the wealthy—wealth tax, (2) transaction and corporate taxes 
  • The current method of household mortgages could go into community trusts rather ending up in private hands 
  • Community Land Trust, CLTs would be a better way to manage defaults rather than through the current private debt collecting model
  • CLTs are community-governed where the nonprofit sells the building or house but retains the ownership of land that the building is on
  • The unique ownership advantages include: the community has a say in the progress and development of the area, homes stay affordable, and democratic and without profiteering undermining, gentrifying, and cost burdening people within communities

STABILIZATION LAWS

Daniel Bernstein, Broadside Tenant’s Association, danielbernstein827@gmail.com,referred to https://therealdeal.com/2019/08/07/fantastic-leases-and-where-to-find-them-a-guide-to-the-mysterious-world-of-new-yorks-rent-stabilized-hotels/, also from Daniel Bernstein : https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZglLssjqJfQi8Czke4H5HkWrGk7TMbNiGHZ_YhhIUrs/edithotels before 1969 should contain stabilize units

  • 50 hotels through Manhattan have stabilized units
  • Review hotels which fit into the law
  • Plenty in Midtown South

PPE UPDATE

Andre Garcia, NYDIS, and Richard Perkins, Housing Works connected to solve the problem of product, labor, and transport for the distribution of PPE. Andre successfully applied for the National VOAD grant (?) for logistics relating to transport and distribution of PPE. 

PUBLIC CONCERNS

  • Wendy Gallegos, Community Development Manager at Maddd Equities, wendy@madddequities.com which owns and manages The Lewis, located 411 West 35th street, near the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel and Dyer Avenue, referenced the consistent homelessness and encampment. Diligent contact with DHS and 311 but still need help as matters escalate to violence, and cold weather is approaching. Wendy wants to make contact with all to solve these problems. Wendy’s organization also focused on affordable housing, under 80% AMI
     or lower (translates to 3 b/r $1,000 – 1,500)
  • Serafina Payne, Manhattan Outreach Consortium Serafina.payne@cucs.org asked to be connected to Wendy and others needing help
  • Richard Perkins, Housing Works was in the area yesterday with sox, sanitizers, masks, and resource guides
  • Gisella Fonseca-Rizzo, Housing Works, noted that with weather colder please reach out to Housing works where the target population is gathering so they engage with them. Gisella needs the contacts in the committee to reach out to people to support and provide information 
  • Brett Melewski, LMSW, Breaking Ground, bmelewski@breakingground.org, is in the area also
  • Arkim Deberry and Charisma White asked if Wendy works with low-income households and accepts vouchers if so what kind 
  • Wendy is to talk further about the housing work her organization does and help further housing initiatives
  • Marni Halasa, Community Advocate, noted the following: people need and want low-income housing, RAD is not the appropriate body, privatization and land rights are issues

ANNOUNCEMENTS / EVENTS/ ASKS

  • Laurie Hardjowirogo, Corey Johnson’s Office, spoke about their donation drive for hotel shelters, enormous contributions, bi-weekly acton committee, and support programs for the sheltered families. Laurie is reaching out to other hotels for space to initiate programs, The New Yorker is busy at the moment with 500 students
  • John Mudd referred to the Skyline workshops that is in the works
  • Richard Perkins, Housing Works, more men’s clothing is needed for their closet
  • Jesus Aponte j.aponte@housingworks.org  Community engagement navigator looking for product and ways to support his clients, all resources welcomed and distributed back directly into the community
  • Clothing closet Metro Baptist and Housing Works
  • WSNA: Engaged in our new organizing committee for Housing Rights! https://forms.gle/SacdLXzkAVwTKvTk9
  • See Trinity’s Compassion Market and other announcements (Addendum F)

Summary of Actions:

Noted by Lenise Dazzle-Harris

AOB

  • Next Meeting: 9:30 am, Tuesday, December 1, 2020 (The first Tuesday of every month)

ADDENDUM A: POLICY MEETING DETAILS

Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2020 via zoom

Time: 8:30 am-9:30 am 

Chair person: Sharon Jasprizza, MSCC

LANGUAGE

John Mudd discussed the Talking points the team has been working on (To receive a copy of the talking points, please speak to John Mudd or Sharon Jasprizza)

Comments: 

  • visual images are important because media often does not concentrate on the real reasons for homelessness and hence do not portray the problems underlying homelessness
  • highlight positive stories and outcomes also
  • to the point rather than lengthy sentences
  • methods to distribute: press releases, letters, google and kiosk advertisements, media visuals eg YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc, Humans of NY https://twitter.com/humandotnyc/status/1091082168254849026 and stories at https://www.homelesscantstayhome.org/

Press Release: Discussion of a press release for narrative and letter, which Joycelyn Taylor put forward, for signatories included the following points:

  • the letter is to the point and needs to be a simple elevator pitch, detail is not needed in this initial stage, details follow the first step
  • edit and cite statistics in letter (it was noted that even though it may seem there is an increase in homelessness, it may seem this way because of the increase in placements due to the many transfers happening, subway shut down)
  • add some sharpness
  • share with members and networks for signatures, 
  • send to outlets referred to above as soon as possible

Actions decided include:

Team to sharpen the talking points one more time, share with the committee, and send to media outlets who have already reached out to John Mudd, State Reps, Assembly members, city officials, and others. The timeline for this work was for the next couple of weeks. 

EDUCATIONAL TOOL

A brief discussion of the Education Training Tool for understanding the basic underlying infrastructure and social issues leading to homelessness. The tool is almost complete and will be distributed through networks, Community Boards as determined by John Mudd, Natalie Nacculich, and Elise Levy from Housing Conservation.  The Dominant Narrative https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UN2Rnhsi1lMU0a8PGfeaTimpyjbGjTojCiEjM6eTK9Q/edit was briefly referred to but will be clearer once the tool is available. 

MODEL BUDGET 

  • Maria Vasquez is following up with Sharon Dore for the request for SUS’s Model Budget
  • The points below are highlights from the NYC Comptroller Audit Report on the Department of Homeless Services’ Vendor Performance Evaluations MAY 28, 2020 | FK19-094A:
    • DHS failed to evaluate vendors’ performance for contracts at all or timely because it did not ensure that PEs were in fact created on contract anniversary dates, improperly requested PE exemptions for contracts, did not adequately monitor staff to ensure they completed PEs, and did not establish policies and procedures for PEs
  • Audit Recommendations: Based on the findings, the following five recommendations to DHS:
    • DHS should ensure that PEs are completed and finalized within 90 days of the contract anniversary date;
    • DHS should review PASSPort to ensure that it includes data for all DHS contracts except for procurements of goods by competitive sealed bid other than sealed bids awarded based on best value, and procurements below the small purchase limits;
    • DHS should request exemptions only for contracts that meet the PPB Rules’ PE exemption criteria and contracts for which services or goods were not provided during the evaluation period;
    • DHS should ensure that the ACCO and ACCO staff monitor PE completion and periodically remind staff to complete PEs; and
    • DHS should develop written policies and procedures, communicate them to staff, and train staff on their responsibilities for completing PEs including, but not limited to completion timeframes, and monitoring and follow-up activities

Agency Response: DHS provided a Corrective Action Plan, which DHS stated, “identifies the actions already taken, as well as actions that will be taken to address the recommendations in the report. While the agency does not agree with all of the report’s recommendations, we agree that further monitoring and training of staff are needed.”

AUDIT EXCERPTS

THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK 

Hon. Corey Johnson Speaker of the Council audit report found the following:

ITEM 1:

City Council Report of the Finance Division on the Fiscal 2020 Preliminary Plan, the Preliminary Ten-Year Strategy for Fiscal 2020-2029, Fiscal 2020 Preliminary Capital Commitment Plan, and Fiscal 2019 Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report for the Department of Homeless Services: https://council.nyc.gov/budget/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/03/071-DHS2020.pdf

Model Budgets

  • “In the Fiscal 2018 Executive Plan DHS committed to a contract amendment process to adjust reimbursement rates across shelter providers to improve  the quality of shelters and services, as well as increase accountability. However, the process to determine new rates has been nearly exclusively focused on maintenance and has ignored budget lines necessary to attract and retain high quality staff, enhance services, and improve outcomes such as program staff salary and fringe costs. The progress of amendments have been slow and unsatisfactory. Without improved rates, it is impossible for most providers to maintain a satisfactory level of basic services and hire additional staff members to assist shelter clients with rehousing and case management. Additionally, many providers have continued to experience significant delays in the overall contracting process and the lengthy lag in receipt of payments they are enduring places them in precarious financial situations. Providers have had to take out loans or seek funding from other sources to cover operating expenses while they await City contracted funding.”

ITEM 2:

  • Published memo dated May 06, 2020, from Office of the State Comptroller re Oversight of Selected Fiscal Aspects of Homeless Shelter Services, addressed to Steven Banks Department of Homeless Services Commissionerhttps://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/state-agencies/audits/pdf/sga-2020-19f54.pdf
  • “As the fiscal administrator, DHS is responsible for establishing the contract rates awarded to shelter providers. DHS has several tools to guide its rate setting, including a model budget tool (Model) used to negotiate the initial rates and renegotiate existing rates based on occupancy and type of shelter (i.e., family or single adult) and internal documents such as Budget Construct, used to track approved amendments that contribute to adjustments in contract rates….
  • “Our initial audit report, issued on October 10, 2017, found that DHS lacks internal controls over the shelter contract procurement and rate-setting process. There were no written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for key aspects of the procurement process, and we could not determine whether shelter rates were reasonable. The rates were inconsistent among similar shelters and often exceeded prescribed ranges. Also, the various DHS data systems were not integrated, making data sharing and analysis difficult.”

ITEM 3:

  • Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) Request for Proposals (RFP) (regarding Cuomo’s announcement that increased funding was made available for supported housing and emergency shelter repairs): https://otda.ny.gov/contracts/2020/HHAP/20-HHAP-RFP.pdf (pages 78-80)
  • Policy Committee recommends the following:
    • For all providers to continue aftercare for at least 3 months after people leave shelters. The success rate of transition is higher when providers provide this oversight and care. Added from Chatbox “As there is little to no oversight once clients leave the shelter, and no follow up if the landlord is doing what they need to do/any issues with the voucher”
    • Aftercare to be considered in the Model Budget
    • Further discussion with DHS to see how we can support them better.

ADDENDUM B: HOUSING COMMITTEE

HOUSING COMMITTEE Anyone wanting to be involved let us know via email or chatbox.

The following people agreed to be on the Housing Action Committee to pursue initiatives.

  • Andrew Kunkes, Mayor’s Office
  • Joycelyn Taylor, NYC Minority Women Business Enterprises
  • Ted Houghton, President of Gateway Housing
  • Marcel Negret, Senior Planner, Regional Plan Association (RPA)
  • Everett Perry, Independent Local Housing Developer
  • Brendan Cheney is the Director of Policy and Communications at the New York Housing Conference
  • Aurelija Jara, Architectural and Project Manager, perspectives.
  • Gustavo Jara, Construction manager
  • John Mudd / Sharon Jasprizza / Lenise Dazzel-Harris, 
  • Leslie Boghosian / Allen Oster, CB4

HOUSING COMMITTEE’S MINI BIOS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER (FIRST NAME)

Elise Levy is the Organizer at  Housing Conservation Coordinators in New York City. Elise’s advocacy for tenants and associations ensures tenants have a voice.

Aurelija Jara, R.A., AIA, Project Manager, is an experienced project architect with more than 10 years of experience in educational, institutional and interior architecture. She has led design initiatives across a broad range of project type including K-12 school renovations, private residential design, museums, and urban design. Ms. Jara is a LEED-accredited professional. Her strong focus on resilient design stems from thorough knowledge of NYC’s current changes in zoning and building standards for resiliency. She understands FEMA regulations, resilient design techniques and methodology. 

Brendan Cheney is the Director of Policy and Communications at the New York Housing Conference. Previously, Brendan has worked on affordable housing and homelessness budgeting and policy at Gateway Housing, Politico New York, New York City Council, and the NYC Independent Budget Office.

Britt Melewski is the Assistant Director of Programs at Breaking Ground – Street to Home Manhattan.  He received his MSW in 2019 from Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work as well as his license in the same year.  He’s been working in Social Services in New York City since 2012.

Daniel Pichinson, MBA, has been the Executive Director for the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton for three years and has over twenty-five years experience in the delivery of community-based health services.  Dan first became involved in community health in volunteering in a syringe exchange program on the Lower East Side in the late 1980s.

Everett Perry is a New York City contractor developing and building affordable housing for the last 10 years. Everett has a fast growing company and is passionate about improving quality of life for New Yorkers.

Gustavo Jara, has over 25 years of experience in the construction industry working for major construction management firms in the New York City area as well as working as the principal of a General Construction and Management firm. His involvement in the construction industry has been multifaceted involving work as an Architect, Cost Estimator and Project Manager.

Joycelyn M. Taylor is also the Founder and Chair of the New York City  MWBE (Minority Women Business Enterprises) Alliance, whose mission is to assist minority and women-owned firms in  overcoming challenges related to obtaining access to opportunities on the federal, state and city levels. 

Marc Greenberg, Executive Director, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness & Housing, President, Interfaith Affordable Housing Collaborative. A social entrepreneur focusing specifically on poverty and homelessness but more broadly working for housing justice and a more equitable New york City and beyond by helping to facilitate collaboration between a broad network of stakeholders including faith leaders, those who have experienced homelessness, Housing and service providers, advocates and elected officials. 

Marcel Negret is a Senior Planner at the Regional Plan Association (RPA). He leverages design thinking and data analysis to inform long term planning and urban policy. Marcel conducts research on land use and housing at the nexus of physical infrastructure, in particular public transit – generally referred to as transit-oriented development (TOD).

Natalie Naculich is the Tenant Organizer at Housing Conservation Coordinators in New York City. Natalie is passionate about social justice and community organizing. I have experience in direct service, communications, and advocacy work in both non-profit and legal environments.   

Nicholas Urban is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and the Director of Breaking Ground’s Street to Home Manhattan homeless outreach program.  He has worked in homeless services, community mental health treatment, and substance use research for the past decade.  In addition to his work with Breaking Ground, Nick is an Adjunct Professor at the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service and is a psychotherapist specializing in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Ted Houghton, President

Ted is the President of Gateway Housing. Prior to Gateway, Ted served as Executive Deputy Commissioner of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), overseeing the State’s housing and community renewal agencies, including the NYS Housing Finance Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation, Affordable Housing Corporation, Division of Housing and Community Renewal, and the State of New York Mortgage Agency.

Daniel Bernstein is a housing rights activist on the Upper West Side. He is currently a Tenants’ Rights Hotline counselor for the Metropolitan Council on Housing, and was previously founder and president of the Broadside Tenants Association. 

Boris Santos is a former elementary school teacher and legislative staffer at the NYC Council and NYS Senate. He currently resides in Cypress Hills and is a member of the East New York Community Land Trust Steering Committee.

DEFINING HOUSING

When advocating for housing rights with a focus on community, the below items are considered:

  • Shelters: Truly transitional; although purposeful, achieving our housing and community goals will eliminate or lessen the need
  • Medical Respite Beds: Health care unit for longer stay and transitioning to housing (see link here)
  • SROs: Single Room Occupancy
  • Supportive: Accessorized with social services
  • Housing First: Unconditional placement
  • Really Affordable: Rentals below the medium wage of 55,000 and or below 30% of income (input)
  • Affordable: The market rate rentals currently available to people above the medium wage up to 88,000 with a 30% of income ask or higher
  • Option and Incentives for Home Owner

ADDENDUM C:  FINANCING HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES

EMPIRE STATE SUPPORTIVE HOUSING INITIATIVES, ESSHI

Sharon Jasprizza reached out to several principals or associates to speak about ESSHI. 

Through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI), an inter-agency program, New York State has committed funding in order to create or preserve at least 6,000 supportive housing units. Of the 6,000 supportive housing units to be created under the Housing Plan, 5,000 will be located in New York City and 1,000 in the rest of the State. Starting in 2016, the State has issued annual Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance the five-year goal of developing more than 6,000 units of supportive housing. The rental subsidies and services provided under this initiative are intended to be a means to provide affordable and long-term stable housing as well as supportive services to families, individuals and youth/young adults who are homeless and have at least one or more disabling conditions or other life challenges. 

The NYU Furman Center’s  Directory of New York City Housing Programs  catalogues information on over 200 city, state, and federal government programs that have created, subsidized, regulated, preserved, or provided affordable housing in New York City. The Directory only includes programs used within the five boroughs of the City of New York and provides information on these programs’ purpose, history, status, scale, timeframe, and more. For more information see: NYU Furman Center research, and policy insights from LocalHousingSolutions.orghttps://furmancenter.org/coredata/directory/userguide

The contracts awarded in response to this RFP will be for five years from the date of securing the operating certificate or ability to move tenants into the supportive housing project. See more: https://furmancenter.org/coredata/directory/entry/empire-state-supportive-housing-initiative

Gary LaBarbera has served since 2009 as president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, an organization comprising local affiliates of 15 national and international unions representing 100,000 working men and women in New York City. http://www.nycbuildingtrades.org/html/president.html Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, 350 West 31st Street, Suite 700, New York, NY 10001, Telephone: (212) 647-0700  

Steven H. Cymbrowitz was elected in 2000 and represents the 45th Assembly District in Brooklyn as a full-time Assemblyman. His district includes portions of Sheepshead Bay, Midwood, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend and Brighton Beach. Steven is the Chair of the Assembly’s Housing Committee and is working with Furman ESSHI. District Office, 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn, NY 11235, 718-743-4078 District Office Directions

Brenda Rosen, President and CEO, President and CEO Brenda E. Rosen has devoted her career to the issue of homelessness, first as an attorney in New York City’s Department of Homeless Services. She joined Breaking Ground in 1999 as Director of the Prince George, where she helped to establish a model of sustainable affordable supportive housing for New York City. In 2006, she was promoted to Director of Housing Operations and Programs. In the role of President and CEO since 2011, Brenda leads Breaking Ground in its mission to address homelessness in New York.

PHILADELPHIA HOUSING ACTION

Land Trust: Philadelphia direct housing actions 

The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) owns many vacant and viable homes in Philadelphia. These unoccupied homes create blight in neighborhoods while people in need go without. During the pandemic, Occupy PHA has begun to repair these homes, moving families and individuals out of dangerous situations and providing them with safe shelter during this crisis.

The Philadelphia Housing Action coalition and the City of Philadelphia reached a tentative agreement on Sept. 25 to give homeless activists 50 vacant, viable homes, and allow 50 homeless mothers and children to remain in 15 additional vacant city-owned homes taken over earlier this year. 

We lift up the demands of organizers from the Black Philly Radical Collective and our comrades at Philly for Real Justice. You must meet their full demands: https://tinyurl.com/ycao5364

  • The City must transfer ownership of Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA), Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (RDA), and Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC) vacant property to a permanent community land trust for permanent low income housing administered by local community control committees.
  • The City must put a moratorium against PHA, RDA or PHDC buying, acquiring, obtaining, trading, auctioning or selling off properties to private entities until all PHA waiting lists applicants have been housed and pending an independent study on the effects of mass sales and trade offs on communities and community members.
  • The City must Fire all cops and city or city contracted workers that do not treat us with respect and dignity. The process must be public and transparent. You must stop cops from kicking people awake every morning.
  • The City must repeal all camping ordinances and rules in the city limits. Recent legal decisions require no contact without offering permanent housing.
  • The City must sanction Camp James Talib Dean on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as Permanent, Legal, and Valid, and a NO POLICE ZONE.
  • The City must sanction other encampments across the city in spaces that we choose and that will be self-funded and self-governed.
  • The City must immediately stop all Service Days, Encampment Resolutions or Homeless Sweeps or any other activities that harass unhoused people.
  • The City must support Tiny Houses (Not funded by LIHTC or any other capitalist scheme) that are self-funded and self-governed by unhoused people. You will not replace any existing or future low-income housing funds to build Tiny Houses.

ADDENDUM D: SUPERVISE INJECTION SITES 

Leslie Boghosian Murphy’s research on the Supervised Injection Sites (SIS)-

It seems this is an idea that has been explored in a number of places in the

United States. The latest movement on this of note was back in February of this

year. Safehouse, a nonprofit, was set to open a safe injection site (SIJ). They

battled a federal government lawsuit and won but resident sentiment and

impending protests made them withdraw their plan. Article: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-51669192.

In 2018, the Mayor backed a pilot plan for four safe consumption sites

throughout the city but the state was deterred by the federal lawsuit in

Philadelphia. Article: https://www.thecity.nyc/2019/10/4/21210768/safe-injection-ruling-boosts-hope-state-will-ok-drug-centers

I can get further into the research with this but it looks like, at least on the

surface, the hold back is political decision making coupled with the

unwillingness/unfavorable legal avenues.

Best,

Leslie Boghosian Murphy

ADDENDUM E: COMMUNITY CONCERNS

COVID-19 is vividly showing us our pre-existing social crisis that was hidden or easily ignored in our busy city. Ignoring homelessness doesn’t make it go away. And with “Princeton University’s Eviction Lab estimates of 30–40 million people” in America at risk of eviction, it’s closer to our doorstep.

We have 80,000 people give or take without housing: “In July 2020 there were 58,089 homeless people, including 13,046 homeless families with 19,278 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system,” and with an estimated 3,600 living on the streets, others dispersed in emergency wards, living in cars, couch surfing, and doubling up with family and friends, we have an inhumane socially unacceptable problem. “Families make up two-thirds of the homeless shelter population.”

The cure for the homeless and housing crisis is hampered by the continual degradation of communities by the extraction of wealth; the abundance of hotels littering our neighborhood and the lack of affordable housing will say as much. 

We’re glad to have you share your concerns for our social crisis. These concerns are important to us. We look forward to your participation to improve the quality of life for us and those around us.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM NOVEMBER 4, 2020 HOMELESS AND HOUSING MEETING

Ms. Gonzales (MADDD Equities)

Good afternoon Ms. Gonzalez, I hope this email finds you well. I currently serve as the Community Development Manager at Maddd Equities,which owns and manages The Lewis, located 411 West 35th street, near the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel and Dyer Avenue.

Throughout the summer, there has been an increase in homeless encampments in and around the 35th Street area, going up to 36th street as well (photos attached), which I am sure you and other board members are aware of. Local residents are informing us that there is increasing drug use within these encampments, which unfortunately results in tons of needles being found on the streets, sometimes even found still penetrated within an individual that may be temporarily unconscious.

I’ve attached two of the latest photos of some of what we are seeing at our location for the past two weeks now. We’ve tried fencing and clearing the area, but as I mentioned it’s becoming increasingly dangerous to interact with the folks we see out there. Hopefully we can connect these individuals with resources before even colder weather sets in.

In the past, we’ve worked closely with the Hudson Yards Hell’s Kitchen Alliance on engaging the city and local precinct (10th PCT) to do periodic cleanups in the area. Given recent policy changes however, NYPD has indicated that they no longer conduct such cleanup operations. We’ve sent management staff and supers to the area to communicate we would be hosing down the property on a daily basis. Our staff was threatened with violence and needles, therefore we are advising them to stay away.

Barbara Blair

We are inundated on the west side. We are strongly lobbying for some of these shelters to be moved. DHS has a tremendous concentration here, 40% of all resettled individuals as a result of covid. It is more than our “fair share”. We have asked them to distribute between all neighborhoods in the five boroughs. They refuse. We are aligned with Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Coalition and CB4 on this.

Chat Room Comments

HIGHLIGHTS FROM COMMUNITY CONCERNS (prior to November 4, 2020 HH Meeting)

  • Business having windows broken, defecating in front of restaurants
  • The men loiter all day long on the street, tree rail guards as seats, makeshift table, eat and litter on the street, verbally harassed each time he(?) leaves his home
  • A neighbor (?) mugged and then saw perp the following day enter one of the hotels. The ones(?) on the street are not socially distancing, not wearing masks
  • Need to address immediate safety issues – masks and harassment on the street. Long term – 36th cannot absorb over 500 people—Highlights from July 2, 2020 meeting with community and business members (see Addendum C for additional notes)
  • Need “guidance on how to deal with the drug addicts, drug related activities and other issues in front of our buildings on 9th Avenue” [and 38th Street (NE)]. A tenant(?) residing at 574 9th Avenue was robbed in front of the building. A rise of various illegal activities going on (?). My buildings (?) are constantly being broken into by ppl looking for a place to do drugs. People are even dealing drugs in the broad daylight out in the open on the corner of 9th Avenue and 42nd Street and the phone booth in front of 568 9th Avenue…. complained to 311 to have that phone booth removed because no one uses it to make phone calls but instead they use it to urinate, defecate, use and sell drugs. …Losing tenants and are having difficulty renting out vacant apartments. For the 1st time in the 6 years that I’ve been managing these buildings, I fear for my safety especially after an incident I had with a homeless woman on 9th Avenue where she tried to hit me and was using racial slurs at me because i refuse to give her money—Sanders Investment, Lisa He
  • I have witnessed gatherings of dozens of unmasked men hanging out all day in front of Il Punto, urinating against the wall, pretty much every single day since March. A couple of weeks ago, I saw someone shooting up in broad daylight at 3 pm in front of Penn Station. I have been very aggressively approached on the street several times over the past month, for the first time in 12 years Lilia Pino Blouin, 502 9th Ave Condo Association
  • Noticeable “uptick in crime in recent weeks…49th and 9th, as my wife and I were sitting for dinner:
  • …we noticed a shirtless man walking southbound on the sidewalk with a chainsaw
  • …numerous alerts on my Citizen app notifying me of violent crime in the area:
    • 1:30pm: 2 men fighting with knives at W. 25th St & 10th Ave
    • 4:30am: Person assaulted at 325 W. 37th St
    • 2:30am: Report of attempted assault with hot iron at 9th Ave and W. 36th St
    • 2:30am: Man assaulted at W. 48th St & 8th Ave
    • 2:30am: 5 men fighting at W. 39th St & 8th Ave
    • 10pm last night: Report of Man Armed with Machete at Times Square NQRW subway stop
  • A 49 year old man was stabbed to death at W. 38th St & 9th Ave on Saturday (?) evening around 9:15pm
  • There is a ton of public urination, feces, shopping carts, office furniture, trash, and countless people sleeping on the streets during the day as they are supposedly only allowed inside the hotels at night—Deb, 502 9th Ave Condo Association 
  • …encampment has taken up residence on Dyer Ave between W34th and W35th streets and grows in size number daily. There are currently 6 encampments on both the east and west sides of Dyer Ave next to residential buildings
  • The homeless are openly selling and using drugs (shooting up), are aggressive towards local residents (spitting, yelling, blocking traffic demanding handouts), are throwing their trash onto the properties of the Webster Hotel and 433 W34 Street, do not wear masks, are not social distancing, and are blocking the sidewalks with tents, furniture, mattresses, bicycles, and suitcases
  • Some have tried entering residential buildings and are harassing building employees
  • I make 311 requests daily, as do other residents, and every day I receive a text saying N/A or case closed
  • No one from DHS has visited the site. I sit at my computer at my window all day and see the encampments. They have not been visited from any city agency. They have been visited by drug dealers and drug buyers
  • The situation is degrading daily. Additionally, there are new graffiti tags on buildings, walls, fences and sidewalks  every day. This is being done at night.—Julia Campanelli

ACTION TAKEN BY THE NYC COUNCIL REGARDING HOTEL SHELTERS 

On Friday our office [NYC Council District 3, Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office] met with NAICA and BVSJ, the two providers of the two temporary hotel shelters on West 36th Street, and the Department of Homeless Services.

Per DHS, 2 security personnel are being added to each hotel. This security personnel will focus exclusively on maintaining security the outside of the premises, and they will have clinical backgrounds. They are scheduled to start the second week of October.

Both NAICA and BVSJ conduct joint patrols every day at 12 pm and 8 pm. The shelters also conduct separate patrols every hour. BVSJ begins patrols at 8am and NAICA at 9am. Both hotels continue to transfer individuals elsewhere whose needs cannot be met.

Our office has been working to identify a nearby space at which NAICA and BVSJ can provide additional programming to small groups of their clients during the day. We have identified a space at a nearby church that may work, and the parties are meeting this week to discuss details.

An update regarding sanitation: We have requested that ACE, an organization we fund to provide supplementary sanitation services, to be added to West 36th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. ACE will be on the block daily Thursday-Monday and will provide the following:

  • Cleaning sidewalks from the building or property line to the curb and eighteen (18) inches into the street from the curb and gutters, as well as fifty (50) feet in on every cross street along the route.
  • Removing filled garbage bags from the trash receptacles replacing them with new liners.
  • Cleaning out debris from cracks in sidewalks and tree pits.
  • In the event of snow, clearing pedestrian crossings at street intersections.
  • We hope this provides some immediate help to the sanitation conditions on the block.

We are in communication with the Department of Health, who is directing their Heroin Enforcement/Attainment of Treatment (HEAT) team to this area for additional assistance and will partner with NYPD on a “co-response” as necessary.

We also continue to escalate issues with the Mayor’s office and DHS.

Matt Green, Deputy Chief of Staff/District Director, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson

MSCC committed to organizing meetings with community representatives, DHS, NYC Council, hotel management, and shelter management to improve conditions within he area.

ADDENDUM F: ANNOUNCEMENTS 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CHELSEA RYAN HEALTH CLINIC SERVICES ANSWERING SHELTER NEEDS

Ryan Chelsea-Clinton is a community based health center located at 645 Tenth Avenue (45th and 46th Street).  We provide primary and specialty medical care to adults and children.  We also have on-site dentistry, social work, optometry, HIV testing and treatment, benefit acquisition, behavioral health and care coordination.  We also have a dedicated RN Manager and Social Worker-CASAC for our Medication Assisted Treatment as well as other addiction screening and assessment services.  Ryan also has a large mobile health unit which has two full service exam rooms.

As a federally-qualified health center, we do not turn any community member away due to their ability or inability to pay and we will assist them in obtaining Medicaid if appropriate.  We also have a partnership with an independent pharmacy across the street from us and have a very generous sliding fee scale for medications to ensure our patients can take those that are prescribed by their providers.

NETWORK PARTNER NEEDS

Josiah Haken, from New York City Relief, is looking for a storefront office space in midtown, to provide case management and care coordination. Able to pay round 4-5k per month, or $48-60k per year up front with the right deal (in the next two months). Small space for at least 2 offices with windows, to see clients in person and have them meet virtually with doctors or psychiatrists as well as receive assistance with 2010E packages and HRA benefits. It would not be a space where lots of people are served at once. 

TRINITY CHURCH’s COMPASSION MARKET

Trinity Church Wall Street’s new Compassion Market will be open at St. Paul’s Chapel on Wednesdays from 12-3pm starting September 30. Guests in need will be able to get 15 healthy, pre-packaged, and shelf-stable meals, enough for five days, as well as personal hygiene kits by making an appointment on the Plentiful App anytime, or by calling our resource phone number, 917-594-6300. Walk-ins will also be accepted on a first come, first served basis.