Author Topic: Services for the homeless...  (Read 86223 times)

Offline Editor

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2005, 11:33:09 AM »

Offline Editor

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2005, 09:20:52 AM »
The following opinion appeared in the August 19, 2005 edition of The Record:

Regarding "Hackensack, merchants oppose homeless plan" (Page L-1, Aug. 17):

I am ashamed to say that I live in Bergen County. But at least I do not live in Hackensack.

Suddenly, when the city's mayor and council find out that the Social Security building is scheduled to be acquired by Christ Church Community Development Corp., they want to buy it themselves.

Christ Church CDC, a non-profit organization, works in cramped quarters in the church hall on State Street and would like to expand and grow. It provides outreach services for the underserved in Bergen, not just Hackensack citizens.

The mayor, City Council and merchants are not really concerned about providing social services. They are worried about the homeless walking through business and residential areas to go from one facility to another. There is an assumption that they would drive out business from an area that is not very inviting to shoppers to begin with.

Hackensack, like Paterson, is a county seat; they both have courthouses and federal and county offices. Paterson provides social services and homeless shelters. What better place than Hackensack to serve Bergen's poor and disenfranchised?

But maybe I am getting too upset about this and need to relax. There may be other ways to rid the city of the unsightly homeless. Might I suggest a variation of Jonathan Swift's remedy for dealing with the Irish poor in "A Modest Proposal"? I would be willing to provide anyone interested a copy of the essay.

Catherine Hughes

Dumont, Aug. 17


My Response:

Cathy, if you are so "ashamed to say you live in Bergen County" because of the homeless situation, why don't you convince your mayor and council to move the homeless shelter to Dumont? 

You say the business community should not oppose increased homeless activity because "the area is not very inviting to shoppers to begin with".  Your argument is circular.  The area became depressed as a result of two main factors: The rise of the malls (which Hackensack can overcome) and the expansion of social services to accommodate who you call the "underserved". The area is not inviting largely because of the "homeless" (a term that is ill-equipped to define the problem).

Your comparison of Hackensack's Council to 18th Century British government is witty but shows your complete failure to understand the real dilemma.  God forbid Hackensack's elected officials try to reverse the decade's old trend of dumping unwanted social programs in Hackensack.  Enough already. 1/3 of all property in Hackensack is non-taxable!

But maybe I am getting too upset about this and need to relax. Maybe Hackensack's City Council should call every municipality in Bergen County and offer up Main Street, Essex Street and Hudson Street for more social services.  Sure.  Since this is the County Seat (and who needs business in a County Seat) let's tear down lower Main Street and build the world's tallest skyscraper for the homeless.  We can call it "Peter's Palace". 

On second thought, maybe we should just put the homeless shelter in Dumont. 
« Last Edit: August 19, 2005, 09:58:29 AM by Editor »

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2005, 06:02:20 PM »
Ms. Hughes has outraged and insulted the city of Hackensack in her letter advocating homeless services published on 8/19/05 in the Record Rag. She identifies herself as a member of the Christ Episcopal Church on State Street in Hackensack.

Its long been said by the advocates for increasing social services in Hackensack that we had a homeless problem long before any shelter opened here. Before the first shelter opened in 1985, Hackensack, Englewood, Lodi, and Garfield each had literally a handful of homeless, and there was one in Paramus (living in the woods off Farview Ave), and another in Rutherford. So, in a very limited sense it is true that there were homeless here before any shelter opened. Then Christ Church, with the assistance of publicity from The Record, selected one of these towns, Hackensack, and began advocating a shelter. People from one end of Hackensack to the other laughed with ridicule that a dozen bed shelter was opening. Hahaha, theyll never fill it, how can they possibly expect there to be 12 homeless in Hackensack on a single night, was the feeling all across Hackensack. Well, now theres over 200 homeless drawn here by all the social services.

And its the constituents of Peters Place, run by Christ Episcopal, that are the most unwanted of all. These are the people who are so mentally ill or intoxicated that they are kicked out of the county shelters onto the street. I cannot even fathom how a woman from Dumont can expect another community to allow these people to roam the streets. Its simply beyond comprehension that any rational person could come to this conclusion.

Nor can I fathom her comparison of Hackensack to Paterson. By the way, the best neighborhood in Hackensack makes anything in Dumont look like a slum by comparison.  She says shes happy not to live in Hackensack. Well, Im happy she cant vote in our elections or voice her concerns to our city council as a resident of Hackensack. I dread the thought that members of her church might buy condo units at the new Paragon building almost next door to the church.

I didnt see Ms. Hughes, of Dumont, agonizing that Dumont has done nothing to serve the homeless. Not Paramus either, with all its wealth and shopping mall ratables. Nor does she advocate increasing social services at Bergen Regional Medical Center, where the mentally ill and substance abusers can have the high-quality care they deserve. Nope, instead she wants them roaming the streets of Hackensack, as if they have the civil rights to walk the streets. She thinks the answer is for them to terrorize the streets of downtown Hackensack, and pop in and out of homeless for band-aid services that amount to a fraction of what could take place at Bergen Regional.

We, the citizens of Hackensack, have been hoodwinked. Whats happening is a decades-long continuing trend to abandon county-funded social services at the County hospital and reinvent all the social services in the downtown of Hackensack.  Remember Ronald Reagans 1000 points of light? That was the start of it, the sugar-coating of the transition from government care to private care of those in need. That way the taxpayers dont pay for it, and instead donations from people like Ms. Hughes pay for it. I happen to think its the responsibility of government, not the private sector, to fund the solution. 

Services for homeless that are temporarily homeless due to financial issues or spousal abuse can be provided in Hackensack with no burden to the city or the business community. But services for the mentally-ill, alcoholic, and drug-addict homeless of the Peters Place crowd belong at the County Hospital. They dont belong on the streets of Hackensack, Dumont, Paramus, or any other town.

The County Hospital was founded specifically to rid the streets and local communities of indigent people. Im told that interests in Hackensack, specifically the Womans Club, that were the driving force behind the creation of Bergen Pines, the predecessor of Bergen Regional. It was specifically to get homeless who had tuberculosis and other conditions off the streets, and to provide them REAL care.  Thank you, Ronald Reagan, were living with your legacy now in the City of Hackensack.

Offline hamburglar

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2005, 02:01:41 AM »
I don't really have much to add to the Editor and Eric who addressed the letter from Ms. Hughes. I just want to thank them for pointing out how ridiculous her position is in advocating the placement of all social services in our city because we somehow have an obligation to "serve Bergen's poor and disenfranchised". She's ashamed to live in Bergen County and glad she doesn't live in Hackensack but is okay with living in Dumont where their Mayor recently resigned in disgrace as part of an agreement to avoid criminal prosecution. And then she takes a shot at our Mayor and Council for trying to protect our quality of life and our merchants for trying to protect their livelihoods. What is this woman smoking? Earth to Ms. Hughes...come in, please. Last time I checked, there were 70 municipalities in Bergen County. Pick one or two and I'll be happy to have my tax dollars spent on placing homeless shelters there to help serve the COUNTY'S homeless population.

Offline average Joe

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2005, 06:26:03 PM »
"Give us your psychotic...your unwashed...your drunkards...your certifiables...your most dangerous...and ,please,make sure they walk our streets and sleep in our parks...for we are Hackensack...repository of the collective conscience of Bergen County..."
(new City motto-to be on statue on City Green of large middle finger)

Offline hamburglar

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2005, 09:11:47 AM »
I disagree with Average Joe. I draw the line at the unwashed.

Offline Editor

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2005, 05:16:47 PM »
The County of Bergen will make a presentation regarding the proposed homeless shelter to be erected on Kansas Street at the Wednesday, September 14, 2005 Planning Board Meeting. Click here for docket.

Residents might what to attend to voice their opinion with respect to the proposed shelter. 

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2005, 07:05:46 PM »
Residents should know that our mayor, Marlin Townes, has been regularly attending Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholder meetings hoping to secure the cooperation of the County in developing a new homeless shelter that would have less of a negative impact upon the community.

Unlike Mayor Zisa, who battled with the County on multiple fronts, Mayor Townes has taken the cooperative approach, and is hoping to appeal to establish a working relationship. County officials initially were unresponsive to his professional and sincere verbal appeal at the September 7th Freeholder meeting. There was informal discussions after the meeting, and talk of an official meeting to be held between Townes and County officials. It is unknown if this has occurred within the last week, as of 9/19 it had not occurred.

Freeholder Tomas Padilla has been working with the city administration on this issue. The goal is to redevelop the current site of the homeless shelter (River & E. Kansas) for something nice that pays taxes, and build the new larger shelter that the County wants at the end of East Broadway, totally out of site.  It will have less of an impact on the community at that location.

There has been informal talk of trying to organize a rally of residents to the Freeholder chambers to persuade the County to move in this direction, similar to the way Paramus residents rallied against the juvenile detention center.  Hardly anyone has shown up.

Meanwhile, homeless ADVOCATES from Hackensack, including Richard Rankin and a member of Christ Episcopal Church, have been speaking to have even more homeless facilities opened in Hackensack. The expanded Kansas Street shelter was supposed to be a one-stop comprehensive facility, but homeless advocates are already plotting to open a second privately-run shelter on Sussex Street. The Peters Place people want the Social Security Building for one dollar ($), pursuant to a federal edict that gives homeless services first choice for any federal facility to be abandoned. (I cant imagine why they feel they no longer need a Social Security office to serve New Jerseys largest county). Peters Place is the worst of all the shelters, since it caters specifically to the homeless that are so unruly, obnoxious, disgusting, and uncivilized that they are kicked out of the County-run shelter.

The people who run Peters Place consider their clients to have the civil rights to be homeless and wander the streets with all levels of addiction, alcoholism, and mental illness. Ive actually heard one of them say that one of the homeless might be the second coming of Jesus that when Jesus comes again, he will come in a humble way from amongst the masses of people so how can we turn Jesus away.  But somehow I dont think Jesus will come again as a mentally ill alcoholic homeless man. Well, sometimes I've been wrong before, but not this time.

Back in the day, I had no trouble rallying 100, 200, and even 300 people to public meetings. Unfortunately, activism isnt a strong talent among our new council.  They can be described as professional people who want to work within the system.  This time however, the system on the county level is out to screw Hackensack, and somehow the city needs to rally for the common good. Unsure who will step forwards to make that happen. Any suggestions?

Offline itsme

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2005, 09:55:57 PM »
I have mixed feelings about how to deal with the homeless situation in Hackensack however, I think the Broadway location is not a good place if your argument is that some of these people are ill and in need of psychiatric treatment.  The M & M Building is just across the street.  Would you want persons in need of psychiatric help near your children?

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #24 on: September 28, 2005, 04:50:17 PM »
The city council and Freeholder Tomas Padilla are NOT proposing to move the homeless shelter to anywhere near the M & M building, which is on Broadway.  They want to put it on East Broadway, EAST of River street. This site selected is next to the entrance of the city DPW. Do you know where that is.  This is not part of the "community" that we know as the Hudson Street area or the First Ward. It's a remote industrial area, near nobody's home, and almost half a mile from the M&M building.

The current location (E. Kansas Street and River Street) is very close to the neighborhoods of the First Ward.

Now that I've informed you of where the shelter will be relocated, please respond with a post. Do you concur that the relocation site would have less impact on the residential community? Thank you.

Offline itsme

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2005, 09:51:36 PM »
The proposed relocation site would have less impact on the residential community and would be safer for our children.  However, is the location near the DPW environmentally safe for the homeless to live?  Would it need to be cleaned up first?  If so, would it be the responsibility of the City or County?

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2005, 10:01:42 PM »
Good question, and your not the first to raise it.

All that area used to be swamplands, and is landfilled. Who knows what is in the landfill, could be dirt, could be concrete rubble, and it could be contaminated, your guess is as good as mine.

However, I don't see proximity to the DPW to be an environmental issue. In fact, the land the DPW is on used to be contaminated by the former land use but the land was cleaned up when the DPW and Costco (Price Club) was built in 1993 or so. 

This is a County project, so if there is any soil remediation required, they will foot the bill.  The issue has already been raised, and my understanding is that soil tests have been taken or will be taken.

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2005, 11:32:23 PM »
"The Peters Place people want the Social Security Building for one dollar ($), pursuant to a federal edict that gives homeless services first choice for any federal facility to be abandoned. (I cant imagine why they feel they no longer need a Social Security office to serve New Jerseys largest county). Peters Place is the worst of all the shelters, since it caters specifically to the homeless that are so unruly, obnoxious, disgusting, and uncivilized that they are kicked out of the County-run shelter. "

I would beg to differ with the opinion above.    I am working one-on-one with the homeless in Hackensack and have reunited a Peter's Place client with his family, paid for his ticket and sent him home to Virginia.   He had been homeless for 6 years.   No one bothered to ask where this sweet 36-year-old man was from and how did he get here.   Due to his developmental disabilities, he did not know.   

Another one - a terrible alcoholic who ended up hospitalized, and who was voted on the street to be the next likely to die of his substance abuse, has been rehabilitated and is in structured housing and doing well.   The neglect at all stages of his childhood, including being given alcohol by his parents as a prepubescent boy, all contributed to his current situation.   His counselling at one shelter amounted to three 15-minute sessions with three different counselors.   He was told there was nothing wrong with him.   He was banned from other shelters because of a gait imbalance due to a trauma which makes him look drunk when he's not.   He's doing fine.   He needed some personal attention.

One doesn't need to be unruly, obnoxious or disgusting to be kicked out of the private nonprofit shelters known as Bergen County CAP.   

People should also be asking just how many more people are going to be served by this new shelter.   There are currently 38 beds.   Will Orchard Street close, as rumor has it?   There were no beds there, but chairs to sleep in, at tables, perhaps 65 in all.   The original plans for the new shelter said of the 100 beds, 25 emergency beds will be kept available, so really 75 ongoing beds will be available.    Is it worth the money being spent to gain only about 37 beds?

Will there be more showers available?  CAP has a couple and they are not available all day long.   

The family shelter is not going to be reopened at 40 Passaic.   Those families have struggled to find placement elsewhere.   What about new poor families? 

What needs to be addressed are root causes of homelessness - the new kids coming out of good homes with no life skills at all, emotionally arrested at young ages, the abused foster kids, the adults turned onto chemical substances at early ages.   All of the people I have worked with, on the surface, look obnoxius and dangerous, but really are just neglected kids underneath.   Perhaps a homeless mentoring program is an idea.

Offline Editor

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2005, 10:47:08 AM »
To "Hope":

I appreciate the work you do.  It must be very fulfulling to literally save someone's life.  I mean that sincerely.   But I wonder if the two success stories you raise are the exception rather than the rule.  Aren't there also stories about the "hardcore homeless" and dangerous criminal activity?

I like the idea of a mentoring program, but I'm not sure what you envision. Could you elaborate?

I agree that shelters are not the long term solutions that are needed.  The real solutions address the root problems (mental, socio-economic, abuse, etc.) early in a child's life.  How/where/when do we tackle these issues.  Perhaps the schools are the first line of defense.

I don't think anyone disputes the need to provide care to the "homeless".  The debate has more to do with location and the type of programs that are run. 

Why put these centers so close to the business community?  Why can't we give Main Street a chance to flourish?  Why does care for the indigent community have to come at the expense of the business community?  Why is it so difficult for the County, CAP, Peter's Place, the City and the Business Community to come up with "win/win" scenarios? 

Also, - where are the numbers?  How many "homeless" in Hackensack?  Is this a definite number?  How do these numbers fit within Martindale's breakdown of "types of Homeless" (see first page of this thread, 4th post). What is the general trend in statistics?  A recent story by Tom Davis of the Record indicated that homeless numbers are growing.  Is this true?  I hear that Peter's Place does not keep records of who it helps and what problems were addressed per patient.  What are CAP's numbers?  This lack of information contibutes to an overall lack of cooperation.  How can the parties be expected to address a problem they can't define? 

As for the Social Security building, I last heard that they are seeking an alternate location in Hackensack.  If they can't find one, they'll stay where they are.  Regardless of 22 Sussex,  I think there should still be greater dialogue among these organizations.  Nobody's moving out, so cooperation is key.

Finally, I reiterate my point raised in earlier posts in this thread.  HOW ARE OTHER BERGEN COUNTY MUNICIPALITIES CONTRIBUTING TO RESOLVING THIS COUNTY PROBLEM? 
« Last Edit: October 10, 2005, 11:52:07 AM by Editor »

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2005, 10:24:06 PM »
I wonder if the two success stories you raise are the exception rather than the rule.  Aren't there also stories about the "hardcore homeless" and dangerous criminal activity? 

 These two people were considered hardcore homeless both on the street and in the county shelters\ Peters Place.   The dangerous criminal activity can more often be attributed to the parasites that come into town the first week of the month to prey on the homeless who are at the check cashing places cashing disability checks.   There are few hardcore, dangerous homeless people in Hackensack, in my opinion.   I know most of them by name at this point, have driven some of the scariest ones up to CAP when the van has been filled, and have even driven around listening to tunes with some of them.

I like the idea of a mentoring program, but I'm not sure what you envision. Could you elaborate?   

Even the working poor, once they become homeless, slip into a survival state in which they start to settle for conditions they would never have dreamed of, for instance, having to defecate behind a building, then not having a place to wash up, wearing clothes until they are filthy because there is no place to store clean ones, wearing donated clothes that do not fit, and then being treated everywhere as less than human.   The unemployed, addicted and\or mentally ill homeless reach the lowest level of living conditions, expect no better, but remember a kind word. 

A mentor could do a number of things.    It would be easy enough to meet any number of homeless people on a regular basis on their turf several are in the library, several are outside FAITH Foundation on State Street and Kansas Street Shelter, many are in Anderson Park and a lot are outside Labor Ready on Anderson.   Quite simply, they first need to be spoken to as human beings.   They need food.   There really are no special skills needed to befriend a homeless person.   As with any kind of mentoring, you get to know a person, find out their life story, why they are not getting help, how they ended up in their situation.  Its the personal attention that heals a lot of stuff.  You take it from there.  Ive had normal conversations with mentally ill who talk to themselves.   They remember me because I was nice to them.   (I also have about 35 body guards in Hackensack.)

I suggested an outreach type of program in Anderson Park to IRF [Interreligious Fellowship Foundation] and got no response at all.    A new organization started bringing lunch to Anderson on Saturdays and one of the churches across the street got pissed off, called the town and had them kicked out.   Its not a competition but that seems to be the mentality among the social service organizations.


I will try to find the numbers from the homeless census done earlier this year.   It was a very cold day and most utilized shelters so it was easy to count.   It was around 300 as I recall, for Hackensack.   IRF says there are 5000 homeless in Bergen County.

More to follow.....
« Last Edit: October 10, 2005, 11:55:30 PM by Editor »