October 27, 2016
Report on the Homeless Community Forum
On October 25th, the Department of Homeless Services held a community forum moderated by borough president Gale Brewer.
Recently, Common Ground attempted to place a transitional homeless shelter on 24th between 5th and 6th. This was followed by the revelation that the MAve had been converted to a 74-unit homeless shelter for families, without the knowledge of the local precinct, BID or any other community group. By having Common Ground rent hotel rooms for transient homeless, the city avoids the standard review processes that allow for local community input.
Last night’s meeting provided a forum for city officials and the Department of Homeless Services to present the difficult situation under which they are mandated to find shelter for the homeless. It also gave the community a chance to express its frustration and demand for greater transparency regarding the number of homeless in the area relative to the city as a whole, the long-term plans for the city to transition from this “hotel solution,” and future plans the DHS may have for our area.
Perhaps the most constructive and insightful comment made by a neighborhood representative was that the people on the dais had explained THEIR solution to the homeless situation, and that this is precisely the problem. It is not OUR solution — the City and the community’s, but the CITY’s solution, without community input. He noted that it must be OUR joint solution —the City’s and the communities.
Gale Brewer had the unenviable job of moderating. She kept things on track and was very open to finding a solution. She gave out her office phone number, promised to develop a city-wide map of the homeless population, to try and find solutions to specific issues, and most importantly to develop a working group of City and local representatives in order to find a common solution more acceptable to everyone.