[Hpn] NYC, NY - Talks Continue on Jail as Homeless Shelter - New York Times
- August 17, 2002
Homeless Daily News
Homeless Daily News <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sat, 17 Aug 2002 07:55:55 -0500
Talks Continue on Jail as Homeless Shelter
By DIANE CARDWELL - New York Times - August 17, 2002
New York City officials met for five hours yesterday with advocates
for the homeless and a special master assigned by the courts, trying
to avoid further legal action over the city's decision to starting using
a vacant jail this week as temporary shelter for homeless people
and their families.
But the talks, which were expected to continue through the weekend,
did not appear to be close to a resolution.
Faced with a surge of hundreds of homeless families streaming
into the Emergency Assistance Unit intake center in the Bronx,
where many have been sleeping on the floor in recent months in
violation of a court order, the Bloomberg administration had
decided to use a wing of the unused Bronx House of Detention for
Men to house families temporarily.
"We are desperate to find places where we can put them while we
search for permanent housing," Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said
yesterday on his weekly radio program on WABC.
The Legal Aid Society, which had already sought a contempt
finding against the city's commissioner of homeless services,
Linda I. Gibbs, for allowing people to sleep at the emergency
unit, threatened new legal action over the use of the wing of the
shelter, renamed the River Avenue Annex.
Then, a firm hired by the legal aid group detected lead in paint chips,
which resulted in a late-night policy shift to keep young children away
from the shelter.
Steven Banks, a Legal Aid Society lawyer, contends that using the
jail violates the law, but the city has disagreed.
"We will continue to discuss the situation with them throughout the
weekend," Mr. Banks said during a break in the meeting.
If there is no resolution, the society will proceed with its contempt
action next week.
As for the risk from lead-based paint, the Health Department
released its own findings yesterday after what officials termed a
systematic review of the annex.
Officials said they were most concerned about the presence of
lead in dust.
Samples from two of the five floors were found to be within limits
set by the Environmental Protection Agency, but three floors each
yielded a sample that slightly exceeded the exposure limit of 40
micrograms per square foot, ranging from 43.5 to 45.5 micrograms
per square foot.
"We continue to pursue every possible avenue to provide safe and
appropriate shelter," said James Anderson, a spokesman for the
Department of Homeless Services, saying the department would
continue to refrain from placing families with young children,
pregnant women or people with medical frailties at River Avenue.
On Thursday night, 24 families with children 7 or older stayed there,
he said, down from 51 the night before.
Thirty families slept at the intake center, down from 32 on Wednesday.
At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg said that the city would try to add
Roman Catholic convents and YMCA rooms to its roster of shelters.
Y.M.C.A. officials said that hundreds of rooms may be available.
Joseph Zwilling, communications director for the Archdiocese of New
York, would say only that the church was considering the possibility
of using convents.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times
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