Jan 21, 2014

Allentown Locks Out The Homeless

One week after an emotional presentation to City Council about the life and death situation facing the homeless, Allentown has released an official reply. In regard to the Rescue Mission requirement of needing a police voucher, the city supported that policy; We cannot support and will not support totally unregulated environments... The official city letter also stated that St. Paul's Church is attracting out of the area homeless by their lax rules. It's strange how the Pawlowski administration can support no identification needed to vote, and the rights of immigrants, but believe that only Allentonians with proper ID are entitled not to freeze to death. Furthermore, the letter states the adequacy of existing programs and it's Commission to handle the situation. Last year the city distributed $185,000 in CDBG to organizations that work with longterm solutions to homelessness, but failed to provide an open door shelter from the cold. Advocates for the homeless, including Diane Teti, Dale Smith and Reverend Richard Baumann appealed to Council only because the existing agencies were failing to solve the problem. The City's reply, We cannot support a competing interest group at odds with the methods of the Commission. They went on to say, The idea is not just to get people out of the cold, it is to get them on a path to permanent housing, which requires case management from experienced professionals.  We veteran students of the bureaucracy are not surprised, even if the homeless advocates are dumbstruck. A week has passed, all local media reported the story, and nothing has changed. As I type this report the snow is falling, the wind is howling and the wind chill is expected to dip below zero tonight.

UPDATE: I used to attend the CDBG meeting in council chambers to watch the various non-profits clamor like baby birds for worms. The City would weigh their application, decide who's been good or bad, and make allocations. I have written before about the Rescue Mission, not my favorite organization. Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with Reverend Baumann about shelter being provided by St. Paul's Church. Baumann and St. Paul's have only reluctantly joined the homeless business. It's not a $3.5 million dollar enterprise like the Rescue Mission. It's not a CDBG funded organization with paid employees. It's a man, a church floor and a shoestring budget. This is what the City refers to as a competing interest? Diane Teti once said that nobody owns the homeless, but apparently the City thinks that it does.

Bernie O'Hare also reports on Allentown's reply

22 comments:

Rich Fegley said...

I'm really looking forward to reading the comments on this blog post. I have no more words when it comes to this issue. I think that what is going on here speaks for itself.

It is really snowing right now and the internet says it's 12 degrees in Allentown.

I'm going to borrow something from Bernie O'Hare that I edited.

"Conservative or Liberal, Deist or Pagan, transplant or Lehigh Valley native, we're all in this mess together. Let's talk. Let us do no harm."

None of us is as smart as all of us. The City Administration is separating themselves from the people who elected them. Where is the cooperation? Seems that cooperation is unheard of in 2014 Politics. They have experts.

Prolifick Radio said...

I challenge the commission to provide stats regarding how many homeless they have placed in permanent housing and at what cost? Literally tell me what is the cost per placement? I know that the Grand placed 20 people with approximately 35K or $1750 per placement. I DARE the city to prove that their commission is more effective.

@DWSLV on Twitter said...

As one of the homeless advocates who spoke at City Council on the 15th. I sent a follow-up note the the members of Council, fully expecting to be included in the "emergency meeting". It was quite disappointing to receive the City response via the media.

I hope there are still reasonable people who can work together to solve this immediate need. I look forward to these problem-solving discussions.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying the Rescue Mission is accepting CDBG funds? I thought they promoted themselves as being primarily tax free.

michael molovinsky said...

@3:30, no, the CDBG are used for the Sixth Street Shelter and The Salvation Army, the Rescue Mission is supported by an endless campaign for contributions.

Anonymous said...

Then I'm confused about the continued focus and animosity toward the Rescue Mission. Mass sheltering of individuals on a temporary basis is clearly not what they do.

Anonymous said...

"The official city letter also stated that St. Paul's Church is attracting out of the area homeless by their lax rules."

It's interesting that on this issue, the city seems to be admitting that there's validity to the "poverty magnet" argument that is often presented on this blog.

Anonymous said...

That study and powerpoint presentation could cost millions

michael molovinsky said...

@5:15 and 5:20, my issue with the rescue mission is that about 15years ago they grew into a large organization, actually purchasing three large apartments houses, and receiving section 8 subsidy. although they have shed those apartments and other programs, they still operate on a $3.5 million dollar budget. they recently hired a chief financial officer and are searching for a new ceo. they're too big for my taste.

the poor and the homeless are two different subsets. although poverty can certainly make someone temporarily homeless, for the most part the chronic homeless have other issues.

Anonymous said...

Just read the related MC article and I'm confused. Members of the Safe Haven group seem to be taking the Salvarion Army and others to task for sheltering people in their lobbies (without beds, showers, etc), yet Dafe Haven also only offers floor space (and no beds or showers).

Still unsure if the group is trying to make sure people can survive during temporary cold spells or is looking for something more from government and using the cold weather for publicity.

michael molovinsky said...

@7:05, aka blog mentor, that's because you're not a sincere person yourself. you could less about the homeless or anything else. the group of advocates first and foremost want all homeless to have available shelter during extreme weather, without pre-conditions. they dispute the city's contention that there are enough beds available in established shelters. although they are grateful that safe haven provides the life saving warmth, they would like to see more management there. i know reverend baumann, and he seeks no publicity, or has any agenda beyond the homeless not suffering or dying during this dire weather.

this blog often rejects comments such as 7:05, which are written without his usual blatant antagonism (i.e. pussy putz insults) hoping to slip in under the radar. if a comment from a legitimate person is rejected in the confusion, my apology.

Anonymous said...

is the city of allentown a charity? private funding via charitable contributions is an answer

michael molovinsky said...

@8:27, the city distributes $millions of dollars in community block grants to charitable institutions. because of allentown poverty level, those funds could be used for infrastructure and other capital improvements, reducing the tax burden. private individuals also contribute generously to numerous charities, yet there remains a void where some homeless go without adequate shelter during code blue weather. despite an excellent presentation by the advocates to the city for immediate relief, here we are one week and one storm later, with the same situation. what don't you get. don't bother answering.

Anonymous said...

I believe the fact of the matter is that there can NOT be an acknowledgement of a "homeless problem" due to the "renaissance" we are going through. Investors are already wary due to the crime, local organizational push back in regards to jobs, and now this? The "powers that be" are not going to allow this to become an issue, so it's better to say it doesn't exist rather than to verify it and deal with the problem. Politics and money, ya gotta love it!

Alfonso Todd

www.alfonsotodd.com

ironpigpen said...

I don't disagree that the City Without (Spending?) Limits might wish to maintain a website on the internet here in the 21st Century.

However, I am willing to wager a pair of season tickets to exciting minor league hockey action at the $ 177.1 million dollar Pawlowski Palace of Sport that, if I went over the City of Allentown's expenses line by line, I could easily find monies that ARE, in fact, clearly being wasted (and, theoretically, could be used to solve this Homeless Crisis).

My boss at work asks me all the time, "Can we do this cheaper?"

So, I am asking YOU, Comrade Molovinsky -- are there NO monies currently being spent on this or that ANYWHERE in this Administration's Budget that the City of Allentown could re-appropriate to cope with this Homeless Crisis ... or what?

Sincerely,

ROLF OELER

michael molovinsky said...

rolf@9:45, the reason for my guff answer to 8:27a.m. was that the solution to the immediate need of an open door policy on cold nights, somewhere, doesn't require any money. the advocates asked that perhaps city hall or another public building, already heated and empty all night, could be used. there are a number of shelters, the issue is that the demand exceeds the supply.

monkey momma said...

Wait a minute here. I thought Allentown was run by bleeding heart liberals. Where is the compassion? And where is the practicality???

I had no idea that helping the homeless was a competitive venture. And I had no idea that homelessness was regulated.

Finding a long term "solution" to homelessness is a noble cause, but obviously does not address the short term problem of freezing to death. Rev. Baumann provides a rational, sane, and compassionate example of how to help the less fortunate, without committees and without endless red tape. I am afraid, however, that he has found himself on the wrong side of this city's benevolence. We shall see how he is punished for his good deeds.

Anonymous said...

That study and powerpoint presentation could cost millions. You should be happy they're not hiring an accountant firm connected to the niz to check the books.

Anonymous said...

I think it should be pointed out that St. Paul's on 8th St. was the FIRST church of any type in Allentown. It is only still open and functional because of Rev. Baumann who once again has shown what a human he is! He is more than retirement eligible and chooses to stay on in a dire situation and continues to be a light to those who need it. It is sad but not shocking that the mayor and city council now attack one of Allentown's true shining examples and historical buildings.

Anonymous said...

So, everybody please make a donation to st pauls church. You will not be paying a ceo's salary to turn people away. Your money will be well spent...this is how we can make a change instead of asking some polititians to be accountable. All of the bobble heads should spend a night living under a bridge in sub zero temps.

GW said...

All this talk and there is still no solution to who is willing to take in non identifiable individuals in shelters. Some individuals cant afford identification some have warrents up the ying yang. Bravo to St pauls for their humanity but knee jerk reactions to the problem should be left to politics.

Anonymous said...

Mayor Pawlowski got the YMCA opened for the homeless, isn't that great news, Mike!