Author Topic: Services for the homeless...  (Read 52733 times)

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2005, 07:33:22 PM »
I generally agree with Mr. Martindale's breakdown of homeless types.   What is missing is an in-between, probably even a common thread, and that is arrested development.   This arrested development is probably not found in his first category.

Among Hackensack's "worst" homeless, there are several folks who were abused in orphanages in Paterson.   They could form their own category.   They're all in their 50s, are terrible alcoholics, have no life skills, no sense of self-worth, no interest in life, very low IQ, but they are real survivors.  There are many with the same traits who were just plain neglected, born addicted, fetal alcohol babies, full-blown alcoholics by age 5, and aged-out foster care kids who were abused and released.   They are not mentally ill, they're just kids in adult bodies with adult problems.  Their checks buy alcohol and hotel rooms on Rt 46 when the weather is bad. 

The people in this category come from all over the county, even all over the country.  They don't fit in, they're not mentally ill, not dangerous, just drunk and pretty much unable to find work, anywhere.   I don't know what the solution is for this type of person.   

There are only a handful of people that I know, all of whom are alcoholics, who screw up opportunities to get help.   They don't show up for job interviews, benefit interviews, etc.   They are perfectly capable of working if they are not drunk.   Again, no signs of overt mental illness, but no one drinks to the point of ruining their livelihood, I would think.   

I'm watching to see what happens in Midland Park, where a classmate of mine has been found living behind stores.   Other towns reportedly have dropped off their homeless in Hackensack, in the  middle of the night, near services.   There was lots of alcohol and dysfunction in this man's family but Bergn Regional reallly doesn't do Adult Children of Alcoholics therapy for homeless and poor folks. (Note, Medicaid does not have the therapists we nonhomeless folks have.   Homeless can't get grief therapists or even go to support groups). 

All these factors which lead to homelessness become compounded when the effects of alcohol start to affect the brain.   Each individual has profound problems.

Some churches have taken their own problem children under their wings, but often there are disastrous results.  At the local level, perhaps the Board of Health needs to be expanded to include mental health services.  Laws that forbid committment really  need to be softened.   Problem is, at least for schizophrenics, when they're stabilized, they don't need to institutionalized.   It's almost impossible to address the unique needs of homeless folks.   


Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2005, 07:43:33 PM »
The "housed" homeless are another category.   Many people who look homeless aren't homeless, but are living in rooming houses.   Several rooming houses are  notorious for being drug dens, shooting galleries and sodden with booze.   Others houses are used for mental health consumers and social service agencies like PACT place their clients in these houses.   No longer homeless, they're hanging out in Hackensack talking to invisible companions.   They scare people on Main Street.   This is a tough category.  Agencies like CAP and PACT and ICMS outreach on their clients' turf.   Medication is administered where they live with periodic psychiatric visits at Bergen.   Problem is, without the supervision, these clients more often than not go off their meds, invite other homeless folks into their rooms and then get evicted.   Again, they're not crazy enough to be committed.   

These folks could use mentors - someone to play chess with, make sure they're stable on meds, are getting to meals, and perhaps getting in touch with family, etc.

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2005, 11:31:16 PM »
Thanks for the review on my categories of homeless. Im glad people are reading it. Despite what some people think, I really do want to help the homeless, and feel that programs for them should be EXPANDED at Bergen Regional. Merely stating that specific programs dont exist there is no excuse for them not existing there.

 I am fundamentally opposed to moving the needy and homeless from institutions into community settings,  unless they are individuals who could possibly benefit from such a transition. The hard core homeless are have no place in a community setting in Hackensack or any other municipality. No community should have to deal with this population walking around the streets to and from places like Peters Place who cater to those who cant follow the rules at County shelters.

I was unaware of the Paterson orphanage connection, what a tragedy. I am going to stick with my categories, and include those grown up orphans in the other categories, as appropriate. Some are alcoholics, and probably some are mentally ill.

As for the housed homeless, I have long been aware that there is a population that migrates back and forth between boarding houses and homeless shelters. This has long been the excuse to dump all the shelters into Hackensack.

This is also a problem in Rutherford, and Mayor Bernadette McPherson (also Freeholder chair) takes great pride in her project to annihilate Rutherfords share of the solution, a 34-unit rooming house known as The Maples. Its right on the edge of Rutherfords downtown, on a street that is their equivalent to State Street. Does anyone doubt that most of those residents will wind up on the streets of Hackensack?

Instead of being held up as a shining example of being a town that does something for the homeless, Rutherford is being allowed to PURGE itself of all the housed homeless and dump them into Hackensack. No wonder shes so eager to expand the homeless shelter in Hackensack, otherwise Rutherford might have to pay to house them somewhere. I think it is TOTAL HYPOCRACY that the Record and the homeless advocates of Bergen County turn a blind eye to what is happening in Rutherford. That's part of the reason they are widely known throughout Hackensack as "the Rag" or "The Record Rag". I really lose respect for them. So far Im the only one at Freeholder meetings defending the housed homeless of Rutherford.

I am of the impression that 211 Passaic Street is the worst of all boarding houses, but I have no facts to back it up. Could HOPE please identify which are Hackensacks  really bad boarding houses, by address. I also want to point out that the lives of the housed homeless are in great danger, these boarding houses are firetraps and burn quickly.

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2005, 07:46:12 AM »
211 Passaic Street is the worst, according to those on the street.  It is the cheapest, too.   I don't have street numbers, but there are a few on Union Street and Railroad and in the Railroad Avenue neighborhood.  Better rooms can be found in the Anderson Street area.  Hackensack also has its share of "apartments" ,barely above slum level, that one person rents and other's flop in.   

Knowing most, if not all, the Peter's Place crowd, I can attest to the fact that most are not there because they can't follow rules at the shelters.   

The Compcare clients sitting on Ward and Main must be deterrents to business.   Is this because Compcare has no waiting area inside?  Why is it okay for mental health clients to be sitting on the street if they are waiting for an appointment or their business at the facility is done?

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2005, 10:49:27 PM »
Thank you Hope for responding to my inquiry and engaging in positive dialog. Please help us some more.

(1)   You confirmed my suspicions about 211 Passaic Street. I think it is high time for the city inspectors to RAID it, inspect every room, and issue violation notices where needed. These type of raids are done on the behalf of tenants, not against them. A similar RAID was recently done at 345 Prospect Avenue, an upscale apartment building that was neglected for many years and fell into disrepair. It was done at the request of the tenants, and the city is making a ton of money in fines (I think its in the six figures). If 211 Passaic Street is the worst of all the boarding houses, that likely means the people are living in conditions worse than they should, and that needs to be addressed as a quality of life issue. Secondly, if conditions at 211 Passaic Street improve, maybe over time it will house a slightly higher quality tenant, perhaps comparable to the boarding houses that you refer to an in the Anderson Street area.  What would your feelings be if the city undertook such an action at 211 Passaic Street?

(2)   Where are the flophouse apartments that you say are barely above slum level, where one person rents and others flop in. My guess is 4 or 5 of the houses on Central Avenue between First Street and Railroad Avenue, perhaps on or two on the adjacent block of High Street, the green house on Railroad Place between Central and High, 4 houses on the south side of Lawrence Street just west of Union Street, the NE corner of Kansas & Green, the house on Second Street right next to the Carver Park basketball court,  the SW corner of Washington & Lafayette, and the SW corner of Washington & Frederick. Can you confirm any of these, or identify others.

(3)   Please enlighten us more on the Peters Place crowd. You say they are NOT there because they cant follow the rules at the County shelters. Ill have to take your word on that.granted Im still in the dark. Please explain why they are at Peters Place instead of at the County shelters?

(4)   Ive heard grumblings about the Compcare situation at Main & Ward. I agree with your observation that this loitering is not acceptable. What percent of the Compcare crowd are homeless and receiving mental health services versus persons that have stable housing and use Compcare services?

(5) Do you know if the YMCA is still housing homeless people in 10+/- mini-apartments on the upper floors of the complex?

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #35 on: October 19, 2005, 10:48:09 AM »
Peter's Place provides beds because there are not enough shelter beds.    There are some of the most mild-mannered homeless clients there, as well as some of the drinkers and schizophrenics. 

Social workers at both HMC and Bergen Regional have stated that there are beds available at Kansas Street, but Kansas St. claims there are none.    This has also been reported with IRF church beds, where in some churches, only a handful are filled.   For instance, on St. Patrick's Day, 2 people came to an area church for the night.  They had 15 beds and had prepared dinner and bagged lunch for 15. 

The YMCA still has rooms for a variety of tenants, men transitioning from being homeless, working people, a retired man. 

There are other crappy apartments within a block of Main St.   The city knows who owns them.

It's been a crazy week.  I'll try to get the census numbers soon.

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Mentoring the homeless
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2005, 11:01:26 AM »
I finally have a free moment to sit and write something that might make some sense regarding mentoring the homeless.

It's safe to say that the people who end up homeless are from very dysfunctional families, abusive situations, like the orphanage and foster care kids that aged out.   They never had a sense of belonging anywhere and once homeless, they are grouped together with people whose lives are equally or more screwed up than their own.   Except for occasional help from agencies, they're on their own.   

Once homeless, the feeling of not belonging intensifies as no one wants them around - the police pick on them (with good reason most of the time), no one wants shelters or services near residential areas or businesses.   What better way to compound a sense of not belonging than to be a "bum."   I can totally understand the desire to build a shelter in an area removed from the business district, but for the homeless person, this is just another way of saying get lost.   

The other issue with homeless folks is that they have nothing to do once they get sucked into the downward spiral of their living conditions.   They don't think like someone who is not homeless does, even if they had a comfortable existence prior.   For instance, they will panhandle quarters for $1.00 24 oz beers, but wouldn't think to use those quarters to dry their blanket at a laundromat.   Things like this need to be pointed out and reminded over and over again until it becomes part of their mentality.   What we think is simple is not for many of them. 

Mentoring would help pull many folks back into mainstream.   There are so many little things that a mentor could do, such as reminding a person to wash their hands before having a cup of coffee or a meal, remembering birthdays, holidays, talking about the homeless person's life, past, present and future, asking the homeless person their opinions, hopes, etc.   I gave my guy a little research project at the library that gave him something to do.

A mentoring relationship would probably work best if established by word-of-mouth.   The social workers, rightfully so, have rules about confidentiality, ethics, etc., so it would be unlikely that BCCAP would refer a person to a mentor.    Mentoring really means developing a friendship and being a support to another person. 

Though I've given out my phone number to more than 25 homeless folks, not one has ever abused it.   Hospitals have called me as a contact person, I've even worked with the Bergen County Jail physicians because an inmate gave them my number, but I've never received crank calls or calls in the early morning.   However, sharing personal info would be up to the mentor and I would not recommend it until a trusting relationship has been established.   

Finding a homeless person is quite easy in Hackensack (you could email me at holistichell@yahoo.com) just by a walk up Main Street, a stroll through Anderson Park, or a visit to the Hackensack Library.   The library and Anderson Park are better places to meet because unruly or very drunk people are kicked out.   Going to CAP at night or Faith Foundation might be overwhelming.   

There is one thing that became clear to me in my work and that is - there is not enough food to feed the hungry in Hackensack.   The Salvation Army closed and with it went a hot meal.   Kansas St has "brunch" around 11 a.m., so that is the first meal really available on a regular basis and that consists of bologna sandwiches, hot dogs, etc.   Then CAP serves dinner at 4-5 pm.    There are a few weekend breakfasts served at churches.   Homeless people do not qualify for food stamps or only get a few dollars per month, as they have no place to store food.    Center for Food Action distributes to individuals only 6 x per year, and the Salvation Army pantry at 2nd Reformed has been low and\or out of food recently.   Food would definitely provide a vehicle for establishing a relationship.   

If anyone wants further info, please email me at holistichell@yahoo.com.   

Offline itsme

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2005, 03:53:08 PM »
The Green house next to Carver Park is not a flop house.  It is a four family home with single families residing therein.  Having been inside one of the apartments, it appears that there are no violations and that apartment was extremely neat.  It was occupied by hardworking parents.  Don't judge a book by its cover.

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #38 on: November 02, 2005, 09:13:53 AM »
That house on Second Street just north of Carver Park hasn't been green for years, it was resided with new vinyl.

Actually I thought it was a four-family with 2 illegal apartments, for a total of six families. It may no longer be a 6-family, I'm unsure. It's the size of a typical single-family house, so the apartments must be extremely small. Having either 4 or 6 families in a 100+ year old wood frame house is a SEVERE fire hazard. Those who live there live there under a constant risk of fire, and that is just plain wrong as far as I'm concerned. This house meets any reasonable definition of the word "tenement", even if one of the four units is kept in a cleanly condition by its occupants. The fact that it is next to an auto junkyard doesn't help the quality of life there.

These are the type of conditions that Hackensack needs desperately to remedy if we are to survive and thrive as a community. In fact, one of the stated reasons for NJ's Mt. Laurel Housing program is to provide decent safe affordable housing, as opposed to tenement conditions in 100+ year old houses divided into tiny apartments.

The city should use emminiet domain here. [Sentence modified]. The auto junkyard, the 2 auto body shops, the former Alan Party Rental, the former green house, and the scrap iron yard across the street should all be redeveloped for new 2-family houses. No other houses in that block should be included in any such redevelopment. This would really restore the residential quality, and bring it up to the level that currently exists on the surrounding blocks, or better.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2005, 05:13:59 PM by Editor »

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2005, 03:29:38 PM »
Do people know that "food stamps", now disbursed via a credit or ATM-like card, can be converted to cash.   All one now needs to do is go to an ATM machine that has the Quest logo on it and take out cash just like you or I can.  I know of several housed homeless who lost or drank the full amount within the first week.   I don't know what can be done, as the complaints in the past that food stamps could not be used for tampons, diapers and toilet paper probably made this system possible.   It's amazing the amount of money that is bouncing around on the streets in the form of SSI, SSD and Families First benefits. 

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #40 on: November 13, 2005, 09:15:07 AM »

ericmartindale

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #41 on: November 13, 2005, 09:34:24 PM »
Mr Editor, I don't like the way you edited my above post. I don't like the way you cut up my post and added the words [Sentence modified]. Your action gives the false impression that I said something bad about the NEIGHBORHOOD, prompting you to remove it. 

I want to point out that what was modified was criticism of the city for ignoring the situation. Why shouldn't I be critical of the city not being proactive enough to advance redevelopment of industrial decay located in the middle of residential neighborhoods? 

You know I'm a straight shooter. Do I have to support the city on everything?

Eric,

Say what you want, but can't use profanity on my site.  There are some words you can't say on television, the radio, the newspaper. Same applies here. There may be kids looking at this.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2005, 09:18:04 AM by Editor »

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #42 on: November 14, 2005, 07:48:29 AM »
"Hackensack Mayor Marlin Townes declined comment, saying only that he wants to meet with shelter officials and discuss their plans. Brian Hague, a spokesman for the county, said the only shelter the county would be lending its support to is their own."

The above is from the 8/5/05 Record article regarding the possible expansion of Peter's Place.

Marlin Townes doesn't seem to comment on much, and it looks like he has no plans of his own, other than to see what the County wants.    The County wanted to close the family shelter and did.   THe County wants "its own" shelter, which will not cover the needs of the homeless population if Peter's Place and possibly Orchard Street close.   Going from 38 beds to 100, with 25 of those 100 being for emergencies won't cut it. 


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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #43 on: November 14, 2005, 09:22:53 AM »
The following is an opinion that appeared in the November 14, 2005 edition of The Record:

Regarding Columnist Lawrence Aaron's "Compassion for a troubled mom" (Other Views, Nov. 4):

While I certainly don't commend Melinda Williams for her neglect and torture of her children, which resulted in the death of 7-year-old Faheem, I do laud Aaron. His determination to search behind "closed doors" to understand and enlighten us as to how and why people commit such atrocities never ceases to amaze me.

In my work with the homeless I am often met with a social apathy as to why people live on our streets, drunk, drug-addicted and mentally ill. There are people who believe these pathetic souls are where they are purely because that's where they choose to be. That is absolutely not the case.

No one wants to be a sexually abused child and teenage mother, no one wishes to be a substance abuser and no one asks to be stricken with mental illness. And very few know how to better themselves alone. Help isn't just around the corner, as many taxpayers believe. It's a tedious road we travel to locate proper treatment facilities and an even longer road for those few fortunate enough to gain admission.

Writers like Aaron raise our social consciousness and force us to ask the same question he does: "Why"?

Horrors such as what Faheem Williams and his siblings endured might have been avoided had Melinda Williams been offered help long ago, when the shattering of her own childhood was ignored.

Robin Reilly

Hackensack, Nov. 4

The writer is executive director of the FAITH Foundation (Faith Advocacy Impacting the Homeless).

Offline Hope Donnelly

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Re: Services for the homeless...
« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2005, 09:18:19 PM »
Over 2000 "views" and not much discussion. 

I was talking to a homeless guy today, one that I see often in Anderson Park.   He's perfectly healthy, sane, but drinks.   He drinks, he said, because he's homeless.   When asked why he's homeless, he said he never could figure out how to do things.   Having been to a social worker\therapist, he was told there was nothing wrong with him.   He seems physically capable of working, but doesn't seem to know how.   Where does he fit in? not eligible for benefits, not lazy, polite, no skills. 

Another guy told me some just don't want to be responsible for anything.

These cases don't make sense.   It's one thing to not want to be responsible, but to be homeless instead?   To get soaked like people did last night rather than have a roof over one's head?

There's got to be something missing in the field of psychology that would explain this disconnection in reasoning.