[Hpn] 2 articles:Video a sad depiction of life;Homeless say shelter saves lives

Morgan W. Brown norsehorse@hotmail.com
Fri, 02 Nov 2001 14:12:25 -0500

As a follow-up, below is a forward of two articles published today (Friday, 
November 2, 2001) in the MetroWest Daily News concerning the South Middlesex 
Opportunity Council <http://www.smoc.org> wet shelter in Framingham 
<http://www.framinghamma.org> Massachusetts which may be of interest.

The forwarded articles are entitled & in the following order:

1. Video a sad depiction of life

2. Homeless say shelter saves lives

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont


-------Forwarded articles-------

Friday, November 2, 2001
MetroWest Daily News <http://www.metrowestdailynews.com>
Local News section
Video a sad depiction of life

By Rob Haneisen
Friday, November 2, 2001

FRAMINGHAM - Even those who have been vocal critics of the shelter for 
homeless on Irving Street admitted a police surveillance tape shown 
yesterday afternoon was a sad depiction of life on the street.

"It's a sad commentary on our society," said Town Meeting member Beth 
Bannon, one of about 30 people who viewed the tape.

The 121/2-minute tape was shot by police officers positioned across the 
street from the Irving Street shelter operated by the South Middlesex 
Opportunity Council. The shelter allows up to 40 people under the influence 
of drugs or alcohol to spend the night.

Neighbors, including a large apartment complex with elderly residents, have 
complained about the loitering before the shelter opens at 8 p.m., the 
behavior of intoxicated men, and the litter left on streets and lawns.

In the tape, as many as 10 men gathered on the sidewalk, usually sitting 
down or sleeping, apparently waiting for the shelter to open. One by one, 
several men walk behind a nearby Dumpster to urinate. In one sequence a 
man's penis is visible.

Some in the audience were not pleased the tape was shown, saying it violated 
the homeless men's civil rights.

"I'm disappointed this video is being shown," said Town Moderator Gerard 
Desilets, also a director for SMOC. "These folks are now subject to 
additional humiliation."

Despite the footage, Selectman Ginger Esty said the tape should be shown 
during the selectmen's meeting and on local access cable television, "with 
maybe a card taped over a certain part."

Police Chief Steve Carl said no arrests were made as a result of the footage 
and the tape was made after nearby residents complained about the increase 
in homeless men in the neighborhood.

The video was shot from a young girl's bedroom window, Carl said.

"The situation is actually worse than this some nights," Carl Said. "But 
this is evidence there is a problem."


Friday, November 2, 2001
MetroWest Daily News <http://www.metrowestdailynews.com>
Local News section
Homeless say shelter saves lives

By Rob Haneisen
Friday, November 2, 2001

FRAMINGHAM - Operators of an Irving Street shelter for homeless substance 
abusers will meet with neighbors next week to try and iron out differences 
about how the shelter is operated and the problems it has created.

That agreement was the result of a three-hour standing room only hearing 
last night between selectmen and officials from the South Middlesex 
Opportunity Council.

Much of the hearing consisted of testimony from people who lived in the 
shelter, received help for their addictions and now considered their lives a 

"It's not just a shelter, it's a solution," said Princess Edwards, 60, a 
former drug addict who lived at the shelter before kicking her habit and 
getting into sober housing through SMOC.

For Edwards and others who told their stories, the notion that Framingham 
should not provide a place for homeless drunks and drug addicts to sleep 
safely are words that equate class warfare.

"I don't care how much you think you can sweep dirt under the rug, you can't 
make us go away," she said.

But on the opposite side of Edwards and the room packed mostly with former 
and present shelter occupants were those who believe the shelter is a 
nuisance and safety hazard.

The shelter, which houses up to 40 people, is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. 
seven days a week and is staffed by at least one SMOC supervisor. Not all of 
the occupants are under the influence but those that are are given 
information for counseling and SMOC programs aimed at improving their lives.

But having homeless people under the influence loitering outside the 
shelter, and sometimes leaving human waste and litter in the neighborhood, 
is too much for neighbors to bear.

Earlier in the day, police showed a videotape of some of the activity 
outside the shelter before it opens. It depicted a group of men loitering 
and some urinating behind a Dumpster.

Joe Gilbert, manager of the Irving Square Apartments next to the shelter 
said his residents are afraid to use the apartment building's park.

"They don't feel safe," he said.

Charles Edwards, one of the owners of the apartment complex, agreed.

"We've put a lot of people in harm's way," Edwards said.

Other apartment management staff said they find homeless people sleeping in 
hallways and drinking in the bushes nearby. And they blame the location of 
the shelter for the concentration of homeless people with substance abuse 

SMOC Director James Cuddy said the shelter on Irving Street, open now for 18 
months, would likely be moved when the renovation of the building is 
complete and changed to assigned sober housing. But when that happens 
depends on funding and he had no idea where the next "wet" shelter would be 

Cuddy disagreed with the notion that the shelter was the source of the 
problems, pointing out that nearby bars and liquor stores likely contribute.

Cuddy said a neighborhood meeting, hopefully scheduled for next week would 
try to come up with ways the shelter can co-exist for the time being and 
keep directing people with problems to programs that help.

But some neighbors will be hard-pressed to see improvement.

"For every success story I've heard tonight I've probably cleaned up 10 
poops off the street," said Richard Trank who owns property on nearby 
Columbia Street. "It's not going to get better. It will get worse."


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <norsehorse@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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