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Homeless & Housing April 7, 2020 Meeting Recap

(MSCC) John Mudd, April 28, 2020

TO: Committee Members and General Public

FROM: Matt Green, Councilman Corey Johnson’s Office; John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza, Midtown South Community Council

SUBJECT: Homeless and Housing Committee Meeting recap for Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 9:30am, plus upcoming meeting reminder and announcements 

PURPOSE: To develop partnerships and resources to identify problems and find solutions for our homeless and housing crisis

Name:     Home and Housing Committee

Date: Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Time: 9:30 am-10:30am

Location: We will meet via video Conference using ZOOM.US


This was our first Zoom Homeless and Housing meeting. If there were any concerns we missed, please forward. It’s our purpose to provide a space for networking and sharing of ideas. 

If any content below is mischaracterized or needs more clarity please let us know. And don’t forget to check out the announcements from our partners at the end of this recap!

CHAIR (April 7, 2020 meeting):Sharon Jasprizza, Midtown South Community Council, MSCC


This was our first Zoom Policy Committee meeting. The two topics discussed were Medical Respite Advocacy Plan and Accumulative Action list. (Please see Addendum B for details).


There were no special guest speakers during this past April 7, 2020 Homeless and Housing meeting. Erin Drinkwater was not available. We were to discuss the ISP. 

The following topics were raised:


DHS’s proposal to mandate (generally) 30% of the shelter residents’ earnings to be put into a savings account effective date was December 15, 2019. The proposal was discussed and is tabled for April’s meeting agenda for further discussion with Erin Drinkwater, DSS. For additional information on this proposed new rule please see: NYC Rules. Some rules have been modified since the original inception.

  • Shannon Luchs, SUS, defined ISP and stated that it was mandated by the State.
  • Maria Vasquez, SUS, said the ISP program was on hold because of the current COVID Crisis
  • Maria said she may be able to get us client testimonials on their experience
  • Alternative views were requested
  • Other solutions and testimonials were requested

We’re waiting for supportive or contrary comments (pro or con) for the Objections and Suggestions to the Income Savings (ISP) Mandate (see attached). Email or with your comments and/or bring them to our next meeting.


Susan Mendoza, Executive Director: Support needs (see Addendum E: request Letter). Susan was absent, and this topic may be addressed through emails.


In June 2019, the City announced a new “Diversion Pilot” policy: A desk appearance is to encourage people who are homeless to accept social services. This has been on our agenda for a while without much scrutiny. We reached out to the DA’s office, Community Court, and DSS about this initiative. The Committee thought it best to seek enforcement, courts, social services, and civilians perspectives. 

Deputy Inspector Paul Valerga, from Community Affairs Outreach unit, outlined a number of perspectives:

  • Some people want the police to take action
  • Others want to see diversionary actions
  • NYPD just want the job done
  • Education is the key

Deputy Inspector Paul Valerga said Community Affairs are a big proponent to ensure the intended purpose are known. He will email us with updates and contacts regarding the Diversion Pilot summonses.

MTS Homeless Outreach Officer Stefano Belmonte reported at the last meeting: Summonses are issued through transit. The desk appearance (summons) can be adjudicated through acceptance of programs. Warrants can be issued if desk appearance is ignored.

The committee agreed that it would be good to have transit at our next meeting.

Andrew Bonfrancesco: What are the repercussions if summonses are ignored include? Some officers may not understand the intended purpose of the Diversion program, which is to have people use social services.

Arrest and jail time is possible; but implementation is dependent on the precinct’s discretion. 

Sharon and John to connect Haddi Waggah, Rosette Epstein, and Sarah Blanco from Midtown Court, with Deputy Inspector Paul Valerga: for awareness of the program and for the education of the officers.


  • COVID-19 Response Team: Several colleagues and networks are coming together to respond to the current crisis
  • Emily Bortek: Speakers and advocates discussing ways to raise revenues for COVID-19 relief
    • She suggested joining social media activism around COVID’s Relief mobilization efforts
  • Emily is to provide updates when available on sanitizing volumes and distribution
    • Emily update (email 9.4.20): Currently no supplies delivered, and no point of distribution: offices are closed
    • Emily will keep us informed
  • Maria Vasquez, SUS, to research shelter needs and email them to committee
  • Adafruit is looking for a ventilator to use as a template and sourcing N95 masks
  • Marni: 660 people in Rikers Island for misdemeanors and being held on bail, who should be released due to the threat of COVID
    • Marni to write an email regarding this issue


  • General: Haddi Waggah, Midtown Community Court, said that there are no staff working at Midtown Community Court, and that they are not arraigning cases, but are providing support remotely
  • Email Marni Halasa about rent freeze info
  • Tamara Morgan is looking to support and provide education opportunities for people with disabilities living in shelters and communities 


NYDIS: The merging of NYDIS and ESN was detailed in the August recap (see MSCC’s web link). NYDIS/ESN is a network of (mostly) congregations, which provide overnight stays for people who are homeless. Evidence indicating a lack of rules and policy coherence among the respite beds, clients, volunteers, and homeless service providers urged us to draft Respite Bed Policy Recommendations.Cassie Dessalines (BronxWorks) and Reggie Miller (NYDIS/ESN) are preparing another draft to have a discussion with the respite bed providers. Anyone wanting to add input, please contact Reggie Miller, Cassie Dessalines, Sharon Jasprizza, or John Mudd.

Reggie Miller, NYDIS, said, COVID-19 will change the draft, its framework, and they are operated. Respite bed are closed, the drop-in center capacity is reduced for social distances. People are being referred to DHS.

John and Sharon are to reach out to DHS about housing the homeless since respite beds are closed.


Homeless and Housing Committee’s representatives traveled to Boston’s Barbara McInnes House medical respite bed facility on Thursday October 24, 2019. The Committee’s goals were to understand the center’s: policies, programs, goals/mission, operation, budgeting, proof of savings through services, funding, etc. See summary details of our goals in the December 3, 2019 Homeless and Housing Recap. We were looking for any metrics that prove the center’s efficiencies and net worth.

The Medical Respite Bed Advocacy plan was outline (see Policy recap).

Andrew Bonfrancesco, in response to COVID19, suggested a medical respite bed facility could be used as a hub to direct an infectious persons into the right care (hospitals, quarantine, etc.). These Medical Respites can be used as a screening site to enter the shelter system.


No updates from the public bathrooms development and planning group.


The COVID crisis may change the content. 

WORKSHOPS (on hold during the COVID-19 crisis)

No updates due to the COVID crisis.




Councilman Corey Johnson with Councilman Stephen Levine unveiled their comprehensive plan Homeless Crisis: A Case For Change to address homelessness.



The following are action suggestions derived from today’s meeting:

  • Request transit perspective on the Diversionary Program
  • Cassie Dessalines, Bronx Works, will follow up with NYLAG about statistics and legal and legislation progress
  • John Mudd will email the NYLAG proposal to Britt Melewski from Breaking Ground, and David Ward from Trinity Church
  • Britt Melewski and Maria Vasquez from SUS will gather testimonials speaking to the medical respite needs
  • John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza are emailing all our participants for testimonials
  • Erin Drinkwater, Deputy Commissioner of Mental and Legislative Affairs, Department of Social Services will speak on the Income Saving Plan (ISP)
  • SOI: Organize speaker to discuss department’s policy and actions
    • And possibly the Human Rights Council


A discussion is needed at our 8:30am Homeless and Housing Policy meeting to outline the studied and unstudied issues, and how best to progress them. Discussions should include team development for furthering planning, statistics, finance, procurement, and actions.


Listed from more recent, to later items. 

  • Outreach and police monitoring for 8th Avenue around 34th and 35th Streets
  • Communication with precinct  
  • Voucher: Additional information and discussion needed
  • Daycare resources, discussion and development
  • SOI: Speaker to discuss department’s policy and actions
  • Comunilife: Establishing relationships with other homeless services, particularly Urban Pathways
  • DHS’s General Welfare Committee held a hearing in September 2019 on medical respites; Erin Drinkwater suggests that we look at the testimony and transcripts of that hearing 
  • DHS is to provided information about institutional referrals & process for hospital discharges
  • DHS with the Medical Director’s office are having ongoing conversations to find the nexus in which to operate among DHS, hospitals, and providers
  • DHS is looking for ways to:
    • Reduce cyclical returns to emergency rooms
    • Transition people to medically appropriate shelters when needed
    • Source stable housing for people after discharge
    • Improve communication between the agency and the hospitals about people’s health status and expected discharge dates for timely transition to housing options
  • Operating systems: CARES, Home, Street Smart needs more study
  • Diversion Plan: The Committee thought it best to further seek further perspectives from enforcement (particularly from the Transit Dept. as they issue the summonses), courts, social services, and civilians (those who receive the summonses)
  • Income Savings (ISP) Mandate: We’re waiting for your supportive or contrary comments (pro or con) and saving options for the Objections and Suggestions proposal
  • Medical Respite Bed Facility: execute Advocacy Plan
  • Non Medical Respite Bed Policy Recommendations:Cassie Dessalines (BronxWorks) and Reggie Miller (NYDIS/ESN) are preparing another draft to discuss with the principal respite bed providers
  • Oversight
  • Shelter Policies
  • Social Workers embedded: School, Hospitals
  • Affordable Housing / AirBnB / Deregulation 
  • Vouchers: The committee’s researching and taking testimonials. 
  • The committee wants to hear from independent landlords about barrier and reluctance to the voucher program
  • Outreach / social workers embedded in the hospital emergency room (good), and to a much lesser degree during a patient’s respite period (not so good)
  • Mapping medical pathways from recovery to stable housing
  • Workshops development
  • Hotel participation: Allen Oster, CB4 and MSCC, to organize a meeting with the hotel industry to discuss how they may participate
  • Erica (CUCS)/MTS: follow up with outreach in the 8th Avenue (between 34th and 35th Street)
  • Erik Botcher, NYC Councilman Corey Johnson’s office, suggests having a conversation between the person who was hampered by bureaucratic systems and DHS/HRA to troubleshoot and find where the breakdown occurred. Others with similar problems could be invited too (SUS’s client)
  • Erin suggests watching for legislation and budgeting (that may not cover enough programs/assistance) to come from Albany: Liz Kruger’s Housing Stability bill, supporting increases of City and State voucher participation, and assistance for undocumented citizens (Federal provides only emergency assistance)


(Sub-committee of Homeless and Housing Committee) 


When: April 7, 2020

Time: 8:30-9:30am

Where: Via video Conference using ZOOM.US 


Review policies and their oversight, determine actions, suggest and lobby for change!


This was our first Zoom Policy Committee meeting. The prior 8:30am Policy Meeting’s hour was spent discussing Medical Respite Advocacy Plan and Accumulative Action list. 


Medical Respite Advocacy Plan

Step 2 of the plan requires information gathering affirming the necessity, sustainability, and capital to develop a respite bed facility. The Information Gathering should include, but not be limited to:  

  • Statistics outlining success in other states
  • Costs difference between emergency care and respite bed facilities
  • Developmental and operational cost analysis

Cassie Dessalines, Bronx Works, will follow up with NYLAG about statistics and legal and legislation progress. 

John Mudd will email the NYLAG proposal to Britt Melewski from Breaking Ground, and David Ward from Trinity Church. 

Emailed on Monday, April 20, 2020 NYLAG’s Report explaining the effectiveness of a Medical Respite model: Homeless New Yorkers Need a Safe Place to Recuperate-Not the Streets

Britt Melewski and Maria Vasquez from SUS will gather testimonials speaking to the medical respite needs.

John Mudd and Sharon Jasprizza are emailing all our participants for testimonials.

Dr. Andy Coyle, Mt. Sinai, as a guest speaker at a future meeting, to be followed up.

To review Advocacy Plan see attached Addendum D: Medical Respite Bed Advocacy Plan.

Prioritizing Our Action List

The policy committee is reviewing the Action List to determine each line item’s next steps. The below line items were discussed thus far:

  • Voucher: Additional information and discussion needed: Perspectives between social services and City Agency
  • Daycare resources, discussion and development: Ye to be discussed
  • SOI: Organize speaker to discuss department’s policy and actions
    • And possibly the Human Rights Council
  • Comunilife: Establishing relationships with other homeless services, particularly Urban Pathways to be facilitated by Homeless and Housing Committee
  • DHS’s General Welfare Committee held a hearing in September 2019 on medical respites; Erin Drinkwater suggests that we look at the testimony and transcripts of that hearing : Needs to be added to the May 5, 202, Policy meeting Agenda


  • Andrew Bonfrancesco: Shelters cleanliness, gloves, masks, protocols, Several People have
  • contracted COVID-19 medical respite for recovery 
    • Follow up: Sent email 4.8.20 to NYC Council and DHS representatives alert them of possible widespread problem
    • We also suggested in the above email to inquire with all DHS shelter needs
  • The committee is to reach out to all shelters for a wellness and needs check


  • Review the rest of the action list
  • New study focus
  • New Policy focus
  • Review Voucher policies and oversight 
  • Review systems
  • Adding policies concerning chronicity to our task list
  • Assign someone to notate further planning


MASSACHUSETTS / Barbara McInnis House 

Agency: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
Address: Jean Yawkey Place, 780 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118 Contact: Sarah Ciambrone, Executive Director, Barbara McInnis House Phone: (857) 654-1701
E-mail: / Website: 

Description / Established 1993

Since 1988, medical respite care has been an essential component of the continuum of healthcare services provided by the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP). Originating as shelter-based medical beds, medical respite care for men and women is now provided in one freestanding facility, the 104-bed Barbara McInnis House which is housed in the top three floors of Jean Yawkey Place on Albany Street in Boston and located across the street from Boston Medical Center. 

Jean Yawkey Place is home not only to the medical respite program but also the dental program, a busy pharmacy and ambulatory clinic, and administration for Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. 

The McInnis House provides care to men and to women, and provides comprehensive medical, nursing, behavioral, dental, and case management services in an environment sensitive to the needs of homeless adults. 

The McInnis House offers three meals per day that are served in the dining room. Patients recuperate in private, semi-private or two to six bedrooms. The program admits patients 24 hours per day, seven days a week from hospitals, shelters, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, and directly from the street by referral from the BHCHP Street Team. 

Operating agency: Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (HCH) 

Facility type: Stand-alone / Number of respite beds: 104

Hours of operation: Admissions office – Monday thru Friday, 8am-4:30pm Average length of stay: approx. 12 days 

Admission Criteria 

• Primary medical problem 

• Psychiatrically stable 

• Independent in Activities of Daily Living 

• In need of short-term recuperative care 

• If on methadone, must be enrolled in methadone maintenance program 

• Disclosure of known communicable disease, including TB, VRE and MRSA 



There is no question that we need medical respite beds in New York City. Many of our service providers will attest to this. People suffering homelessness are deprived of complete recovery alternatives after leaving an emergency room. People are mostly cared for by family or visiting nurses after returning home to ensure successful recovery. People who are homeless do hot have access to aftercare, and hospitals are reluctant to house people beyond their needed emergency care. As one Mount Sinai doctor said, “We’re not a Holiday Inn.” 

A medical respite bed facility can be a pipeline from the hospitals to health, medical, social, and other services, which can lead to housing opportunities. 

This four-step plan is to encourage the development of medical respite beds in NYC. This is a plan in progress, not without flexibility, and is open to suggestions.

Step #1 (Began November 2019) Mission:

Describes our mission (the encouragement of medical respite beds) and suggests the following pathways to complete that mission:

  • Encourage medical respite bed funding through the city budget
  • Ask the city to fund a pilot project to study the financial and clinical outcomes
  • Encourage the network of providers to develop medical respite beds

A press release describing the committees’ intentions, emphasizing the forthcoming presentations, and encouraging attendance could be prudent.

Step #2 (March 2020) Information Gathering:

This step requires a tremendous amount of information gathering affirming the necessity, sustainability, and capital to develop a respite bed facility. Fortunately there are successful examples and developers who are willing to guide this endeavor. The information gathering should include, but not be limited to:  

  • Statistics outlining success in other states
  • Costs difference between emergency care and respite bed facilities
  • Developmental and operational cost analysis
    • Daniel Muwamba, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program is already working on financial details of the Barbara McInnes House and Stacey KirkPatrick facilities
  • Short documentaries and testimonials speaking to medical respite needs
  • Video and PowerPoint presentations affirming the medical respite beds necessity and benefits:
    • Andy Coyle, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Education, Associate Program Director for Ambulatory Care, Internal Medicine Residency Program, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has shared a great deal of knowledge during a conference call and with his PowerPoint presentation, using data from March 2019, and he is willing to further support our endeavors: 

I can pull updated data if there is an opportunity to speak to a group…I can also share more of our outcomes data for the respite as we have it.

  • Comunilife’s Rosa Gil, DSW, President and CEO, has contracts with Monte, Bronx Lab and a few Medicaid Managed Care plans for medical respite bed care
  • David Munson, Barbara McInnes House, has shared details of his operation and as with Dr. Coyle, is willing to support our endeavors
  • BronxWorks, is partnering with One City Respite Program, to lower the cost of emergency room use, to provide longer care for persons without a residence, and to enable a pathway to better health and housing stability (an interim step towards medical respite beds?)
  • Insurance Companies: Health First, United Healthcare, MetroPlus, Amida Care
  • DHS, Outreach services, and NYDIS: How can medical respite beds benefit?

The video presentations should educate, speak to the need, and empower others to advocate for medical respite facilities. 

Step #3 (July, August 2020) Administrative, Proposal Development, and Marketing: 

This step collates the work from Steps 1 & 2, fills in the gaps, and tailors it to the needs of client and state for a finalized proposal to encourage the development of medical respite beds. This step serves the final presentation and marketing needs, and also encourages support and participation. 

Step #4 (September, October 2020) Advocating for Development:

This is the culmination of discussions, meetings, research, discoveries, proposals and presentations to gather the support from nonprofits, city agencies, governing bodies, medical institutions, and humanitarian developers to realize the building of medical respite beds.


Since 1987 MOD, a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit organization based in New York City, has been providing transitional housing and supportive services for up to 40 homeless men and women aged fifty and over from throughout New York City. One hundred percent of our referrals come from DHS funded agencies, some of which include Palladia, Catholic Charities, Main Chance, Bellevue Men’s Shelter, Susan’s Place, Brooklyn Women’s Shelter and Franklin Women’s Shelter – to name but a few.

In effect and almost by default, we are already working with DHS to address the needs of New York City’s homeless population in the provision of transitional housing and supportive services.

The ongoing challenge that we constantly face is the ability to place our clients into affordable DHS funded and subsidized permanent housing. We are told that because we’re not a DHS provider, applications submitted by our clients who otherwise meet all of the required qualifications for acceptance, are rejected because MOD is not a registered or recognized DHS Provider agency.

Clients have expressed that they feel “stuck and frustrated” because of this predicament and for this reason, many are now choosing to re-enter the DHS shelter system to once again begin the process towards attaining permanent housing. In order for MOD to help its clients, we need your help.

MOD needs guidance and advice on the best way to accomplish the goal of being recognized and registered as a DHS Provider.

Susan Attzs-Mendoza

Susan Attzs-Mendoza, Executive Director 


The below email requests updates regarding laundry machines, day care needs to be added to the agenda, and more…

John, please add day care to the list.

Yesterday, I met briefly with Acacia (who oversees 7 midtown shelters) and

they need more resources, specifically day care and laundry to handle the

influx of homeless families from FEMA. Mothers cannot work without day care

for their children and they are having problems finding day care centers

that will take DHS vouchers. I asked them to try Hudson Guild and Polly

Dodge Early Learning Center.

If anyone knows of other day care centers in the Midtown area, please advise.

They also asked for more laundry vouchers and I gave them what I could but

need to keep a good portion in reserve for the start of the school year.

Matt, have we gotten a meeting with NYCHA on laundry machines for the

smaller space?