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Midtown South Community Council Prefers Partnership Over Complaints

(CHELSEANOW.COM) Dusica Sue Malesvic, November 18, 2016 —  “I was homeless,” Delon Ali told the crowd. “I know what it feels like to be rejected, to be cast out. I know what it feels like to be hopeless. I know what it feels like when you don’t shower for three months. I know what it feels like to be a dead man walking, if you will.”

Ali shared his story at the Oct. 20 meeting of the Midtown South Community Council (MSCC), held at The New Yorker hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & W. 35th Sts.). He explained how he moved from Trinidad to New York City 20 years ago, and how he fell on hard times 10 years ago after losing his job and turning to drugs.

“In the winter, I would ride the F train from Queens to Coney Island, back and forth,” he said. “I would sleep in abandoned buildings. I would get locked up in prison all the time.”

Ali added, “Ten years ago, I walk into a room and see a bunch of cops, I would make a U-turn and run out.”

Indeed, this got a few murmurs as the MSCC meeting was filled with police officers from the Midtown South Precinct. Each precinct has a community council whose meetings bring residents and cops together to discuss problems and issues in the area. Homelessness has persisted on and off for decades in the area, said John A. Mudd, president of the MSCC.

Mudd is committed to tackling the complicated problem, and had invited Ali to the meeting to share his experience and insight.

Today, Ali is a pastor who has both an associate and bachelor’s degrees in bible science and theology, and is planning to attend the New York Theological Seminary in January, he said. He also manages the 21-day shelter program at The Bowery Mission (bowery.org). The mission, at 227 Bowery (btw. Prince & Rivington Sts.), serves anywhere from 700 to a 1,000 plates of food per day, every day, according to Ali. It also provides clothing, shelter and a place for people to shower, he said.

“I have seen people come in off the parks, off the benches,” said Ali. “I have seen the process. I have seen their life change. I’ve seen them go back to independent living. I’ve seen them go back to their families. I’ve seen them getting jobs. It encourages me.”

In a phone interview two days later, Mudd explained to Chelsea Now how he is trying to connect the various organizations — like The Bowery Mission — and city agencies to form a network to help the homeless. Improving communication citywide is part of that, Mudd said.

“I think we need to be on a wider net — we need to have all our bases covered,” he said.

Mudd has lived on W. 38th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.) since 1984 and has been part of the council for 29 years. “This has been on my agenda for a long time,” he said.

Earlier this year, he started calling agencies, talking to people about homelessness and researching the issue. The council receives many complaints about homeless people, including when LinkNYC rolled out its kiosks along Eighth Ave. Mudd and others pushed for LinkNYC to disable the web browsing on the kiosks, as residents and businesses said the homeless gathered around the terminals and monopolized them for hours.

Source: Midtown South Community Council Prefers Partnership Over Complaints | chelseanow.com