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City Dismantles Homeless Camp

by Thomas MacMillan | May 16, 2014 4:49 pm

(30) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Housing, Legal Writes, Social Services, The Hill

Just one day after activists set up a camp for homeless people on Rosette Street, the city removed their tents—and took two organizers away in handcuffs.

That was the scene Friday afternoon in the Hill, where the police arrested Gregory Williams and Mark Colville after they refused to leave a piece of city-owned property at 211 Rosette St. Click the play arrow to see Colville taken away, in a video by Melinda Tuhus.

On Thursday, Williams and Colville had organized an encampment for homeless people following the closing of the seasonal 88-bed “overflow” shelter on Cedar Street. The Harp administration had told the activists that they were occupying the vacant lot illegally and would have to leave.

On Friday afternoon at 2 p.m., mayoral staffer Michael Harris (pictured) showed up at the encampment with four workers from the city housing agency the Livable City Initiative, two police officers, and five outreach workers from the Columbus House homelessness services agency.

They were armed with doughnuts and hot coffee, free umbrellas, and assessment forms for the city’s ongoing 100-day challenge to house New Haven’s chronically homeless.

Harris said the intention was to assess any homeless camping at the site, provide them with services, and then dismantle the encampment.

“We needed to get people off of this land,” Harris said. The encampment was an unacceptable and unsafe use of city property, he said.

Harris said the group found no homeless on the site, only Williams and Colville, both of whom have homes.

Williams and Colville refused to leave and were taken away by police. LCI staff then took down tents, carted everything away, and locked the gate to the property.

Harris said the city found five tents, only one of which appeared to have been slept in.

The city is in the middle of a coordinated effort to house the homeless, Harris said. “That is the solution” to the closing of the overflow shelter.

The property at Rosette Street has no bathrooms or showers, no guarantee of safety. If anybody were to be stabbed or robbed, the city would be liable, both legally and ethically, he said.

Luz Colville, Mark Colville’s wife, said three people slept at the camp Thursday night, including Williams and Colville, and seven were planning to sleep there Friday night. She said no homeless were at the camp when workers showed up because they were all out at appointments or other obligations.

Luz (pictured) said the campers had access to showers and bathrooms at the Amistad Catholic Worker house two doors down. She said the neighbors have been taking care of the property and the garden it contains. The camp was a drug-and-alcohol-free zone where people could feel safer than at some other homeless camps in town.

Luz said she recognized that the camp was not a permanent solution, but it was the best alternative given the situation.

“I don’t appreciate that they take our leaders,” said a man who declined to give his name. He said he slept at the camp Thursday night.

“I was going to stay tonight,” said Nicholas Terlecky. He said he came to the nearby Amistad Catholic Worker house for breakfast and was invited to stay. Terlecky said he was happy for the opportunity to get away from bedbugs in the shelters.

Terlecky said he was upset the camp was taken down. “They’re the only people trying to help the homeless!” he said. “I think it sucks.”

The city doesn’t have enough shelters, he said. “It’s like they’re ignoring us out here, like we’re scum to everybody.”

The city arranged for Terlecky and the other man to stay the night in a shelter. LCI gave them a ride there in a van.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Barbara Smith, who lives next door to the property. People have no place to stay now, she said. “Again, they’re homeless.”

Before leaving, LCI staff made a sign with a number for homeless people to call for assistance, if they returned to the camp and found it gone. They made their sign on the back of a protest sign that had hung at the camp, reading, “Where, then, shall we go?”

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posted by: Threefifths on May 16, 2014  4:59pm

They were armed with doughnuts and hot coffee, free umbrellas, and assessment forms for the city’s ongoing 100-day challenge to house New Haven’s chronically homeless.

Political bribery.

Like I said This reminds me of the Aug. 6 1988 Tompkins Square Park Riot.There slogan was “Gentrification is Class War.”

Tompkins Square Park Riot.

First signs of trouble.]

Though the park was a de facto homeless shelter, some residents considered the police department’s actions an attempt to take the park away from the public. Protests were organized and a rally called for July 31.That night, police entered the park in response to alleged noise complaints, and by the end of the call several civilians and six officers were treated for injuries, and four men were arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and inciting to riot. Sarah Lewison, an eyewitness, said the protest was over rumors of a midnight curfew at the park and another witness, John McDermott, said the police provoked the melee.[8] Angry organizers planned another rally.


http://youtu.be/bunhcwSvil8

Like I said the Gentrification Vampires are coming.

posted by: Noteworthy on May 16, 2014  7:21pm

Perhaps Harris can enlighten us on this “coordinated effort” on the homeless. Give us all the glorious details not general platitudes.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 16, 2014  8:20pm

The shelter must be re-opened. The crisis is year round.

The city is not to blame for this situation, but it is responsible to solve it.

posted by: Bradley on May 17, 2014  6:59am

Dwightstreeter, you’re right that people are homeless year round. What city programs would you cut or staff lay off in order to operate the shelters year round?

3/5ths gentrification is happening in many New York neighborhoods, including the Lower East Side around Tompkins Square Park. But, how many upper income households (I.e., the “gentry”) have moved to the Hill? Rents are rising almost everywhere for a bunch of economic reasons including the inability of young people to buy homes, but this is not the same thing as gentrification.

posted by: MomNewHaven on May 17, 2014  7:24am

Mark and Luz Colville and their New Haven Catholic Worker community have been housing and feeding New Haven’s homeless for years. Mark and Luz raised their four children in a communal home at 203 Rosette Street that always included homeless people; some of their older kids were at the camp helping out. The City owes them all a debt of gratitude, not jail time, and could and should have looked the other way, just as they do with the numerous other small tent cities scattered throughout the City, on public and private land. if you close a shelter with 100 beds, those people are sleeping outside.

No one at Amistad presented the encampment as a permanent solution, but rather a temporary option addressing some of the inherent risks of sleeping on the street. So how exactly was this refuge hurting anyone? How is sleeping on the Green or another public space with no shelter from the elements, no access to facilities, and no security a better option? There were no drugs, access to facilities provided by the Catholic Worker House two doors down, and the volunteers rotated shifts all night to ensure that no one was hurt. Surrounding neighbors ALL supported the camp. So why exactly did the City need to step in like bullies?

The Catholic Worker community visited City Hall to ask Mayor Harp this question. She agreed to meet with them, then changed her mind and left the building. You can follow “Amistad Catholic Worker” on facebook to read about that experience.

Our community needs people like Mark, Luz, and Greg willing to put themselves out on the edge and on the line to make a statement, to communicate a message that is difficult to hear without dramatic action. They live the words of Catholic Worker movement founder Dorothy Day: “As for ourselves, yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgment. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile.” All New Haveners should visit 203 Rosette Street. You will be inspired.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 17, 2014  10:40am

Bradley asks: Dwightstreeter, you’re right that people are homeless year round. What city programs would you cut or staff lay off in order to operate the shelters year round?

Budgets are always a question of priorities. I would cut the bloated salaries of some executives on the City payroll (see Stratton for specifics) to reflect the loss of income in the middle tax at the same time that real and personal property taxes are rising.

As I’ve said before, the problem is systemic. We have untapped sources of tax revenues on the local level, inadequate PILOT payments AND a governor on the state level who refused to back a modest increase in the state income tax for the wealthy backers in FF County.

The Humans Without Homes are hardly community activists, but they have to act up and push back and we have to support them.

The inequitable distribution of wealth is the worst it has EVER been in human history, including the time of the Roman Empire, according to one commentator on the Huffington Post Live.

Has the Revolution started?
Are the Humans Without Homes the avant garde?

posted by: Threefifths on May 17, 2014  11:11am

posted by: Bradley on May 17, 2014 6:59am

3/5ths gentrification is happening in many New York neighborhoods, including the Lower East Side around Tompkins Square Park. But, how many upper income households (I.e., the “gentry”) have moved to the Hill? Rents are rising almost everywhere for a bunch of economic reasons including the inability of young people to buy homes, but this is not the same thing as gentrification.


Take a look at Science Park in the hill.

Winchester Lofts Launched

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/winchester_lofts_launched/

posted by: Threefifths on May 17, 2014  11:14am

@ Bradley
My bad.Forgot this.Here is a good read.

Gentrify This? The Dark Side of Gentrification.

Gentrification, sometimes hiding behind the pleasant term “urban renewal”, results when wealthier individuals purchase or rent property in low-income and working class communities and alter the neighborhood, often driving up property taxes and housing values.  Most often associated with urban neighborhood change through the migration of more affluent persons into poorer neighborhoods, gentrification increases the average area income and frequently decreases average family size.  Poorer long-time residents (poor, elderly, working class, and minorities) are displaced due to their inability to afford increased property taxes, rising housing prices, and far higher rents brought on by gentrification.  Warehouses, industrial buildings and homes previously divided into apartment dwellings are renovated and converted into residences, condos, and high-end shops. In driving up property tax evaluations, housing values, and rents, the inner city is morphed into a suburb within a city.  The neighborhood’s social character changes, yet somewhere else in the city another blighted neighborhood grows poorer and more dangerous from folks being forced out of the gentrified neighborhood.  The elderly, the poor, and minority working class folks can’t carry their previously owned homes and apartments with them.  They take a major hit when gentrification moves in and they are forced out.

http://rowanfreepress.com/2012/11/22/gentrify-this-the-dark-side-of-gentrification/

Like I said keep a eye on New Haven.

posted by: Bradley on May 17, 2014  2:06pm

3/5ths, Winchester Lofts is an example of gentrification, but it is nowhere near the Hill. And while the description of gentrification you quote is reasonable, I don’t see anything like that happening in the Hill (or, for that matter, in most parts of the city).

posted by: OccupyTheClassroom on May 17, 2014  3:30pm

There are approximately 700 boarded up houses in New Haven. One for every homeless man, woman and child in New Haven. I know you have to work the court system but there has to be a way to make this work FOR the city’s homeless.

Even if the houses are uninhabitable, the backyards are good spaces for tents.

Many veterans do not actually like living INSIDE after serving. We need a place for them which is safe. Why not set up a campground that has facilities and mental health services? An outdoor shelter space so people don’t have to live in the marshes?

posted by: Threefifths on May 17, 2014  8:00pm

posted by: Bradley on May 17, 2014 2:06pm

3/5ths, Winchester Lofts is an example of gentrification, but it is nowhere near the Hill. And while the description of gentrification you quote is reasonable, posted by: Bradley on May 17, 2014 2:06pm

3/5ths, Winchester Lofts is an example of gentrification, but it is nowhere near the Hill. And while the description of gentrification you quote is reasonable, I don’t see anything like that happening in the Hill (or, for that matter, in most parts of the city).

They said the same thing in Harlem.It took 20 years to start.You said I don’t see anything like that happening in the Hill (or, for that matter, in most parts of the city). I have seen the rents around downtown New Haven.Have you see the for rent signs in the store fronts.I have talk to people who live downtown.They are moving. Like the man said The profiteers — profit.  They often sell their newly gained properties and move on after displacing the former neighborhood inhabitants.They made their killing after renovation.They could care less about the nameless-faceless former inhabitants. Gentrification is generally spurred on by political-economic elites, land developers, lending institutions. and even the Federal government.  The only people opposing it are those in gentrifcation’s high-beams.  Often the uprooted are ruthlessly steamrolled by local government planners, banks, draconian housing laws, and slum lords who see a quick score, a powerful few who want what they want and feel entitled to get it.

Keep a eye on New Haven.It will be next.

My Bad.Did not the BOA just sell yale a street.

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 19, 2014  7:09am

3/5 once again out of touch. Removing the homeless from this camp isn’t an issue of gentrification. It is a public safety issue.

posted by: robn on May 19, 2014  11:45am

I’m pretty sure the intent of the ACW people is mercy; but the execution, by their own admission is more of a protest than a solution. If they had established consent of the neighbors and made a request to the city for use of the land with an acceptable monitoring program I’d feel more supportive.

Occupy Madison got it right with their Tiny Houses project; I suggest this as a model for the ACW. Its not going to be a fit in every neighborhood, but its 1000% better than tents.

http://occupymadisoninc.com/

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/12/27/3104771/occupy-madison-homeless/

posted by: Dwightstreeter on May 19, 2014  12:52pm

Robn: thanks for the link to Occupy Madison and the Tiny House project.

People in the know tell me the best concept in a city is a layered building with services (health) on the ground floor and resident apartments from short to long term layered on top.

As others have noted, proximity to essential services is critical.

Clearly Madison’s population is a bit different from New Haven’s. Still, a good concept for Madison, but not for New Haven.

The shelter should be re-opened until a plan for permanent housing is in place.

How about using the public land in the middle of Route 34 for a tent city for now?

If you don’t like my ideas, everyone is welcome to come up with something better that works NOW.

posted by: Threefifths on May 19, 2014  1:04pm

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 19, 2014 7:09am

3/5 once again out of touch. Removing the homeless from this camp isn’t an issue of gentrification. It is a public safety issue.


Like i said.This is going on around the country.

Is this the end of Skid Row? How the homeless of LA’s notoriously deprived neighborhood are being driven out by the police as the area becomes gentrified

  Photographer Camilo Jose Vergara has watched the streets of LA’s notorious Skid Row be cleaned up as gentrification takes hold
  The vagrants and homeless are being moved elsewhere in the city as downtown LA booms

By James Nye

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532470/From-Skid-Row-Whole-Foods-How-streets-notorious-LA-neighborhood-cleared-police-make-way-hipsters-trendy-loft-apartments.html

My bad.Have you talk to them I have.Some of them told me they are from Downtown New Haven.

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 19, 2014  3:25pm

3/5 stay on topic. This isn’t skid row. This was an organize protest over 80 beds no longer being availible. The city owners the land the protest took place. They did not approve of the protest. The residents of the Hill have the right to not have to deal with this. This has nothing to do with the articles you have posted. Let try something different. No more copy and pasting unrelated newspaper articles and YouTubes. Let’s be proactive and move forward the conversation. What services do you think should have been cut to save those beds?

posted by: Kevin on May 19, 2014  3:29pm

3/5ths if gentrification in New Haven is as widespread as you believe, why is a Dollar Store moving to Chapel Street, just off the Green? I don’t care where people shop, but this is not my idea of gentrification.

posted by: Threefifths on May 19, 2014  8:00pm

@RhyminTyman
I am on topic.Gentrification is part of the reason for Homeless.In fact also Rising Rental Cost.I do not copy and pasting unrelated newspaper articles and YouTubes.I do research.
In fact this report if you and others care to read says it all.

PUSHED OUT.

Gentrification and Homelessness
In a neighborhood undergoing gentrification, affluent and
educated in-movers bring with them new housing investment,
cultural and retail services (such as restaurants, cafes, galleries,
and other businesses that cater to higher-income clientele), and
improvements in infrastructure. Both higher rents and hous
-
ing values, however, accompany these changes.
1
The influx of
well-heeled new residents alters not only the physical makeup
of a neighborhood but the social fabric as well. For people
already living in these gentrifying communities, the possibility
of being priced out of their homes becomes a very real con
-
cern. Rapidly rising rents push even modest accommodations
out of reach for low-income renters, while rising home values
increase property taxes that become burdensome to low-income
homeowners

http://www.icphusa.org/PDF/reports/ICP Report_Pushed Out.pdf

It took Harlem 20 years.how many years you think New Haven has?

posted by: Threefifths on May 19, 2014  8:02pm

posted by: Kevin on May 19, 2014 3:29pm

3/5ths if gentrification in New Haven is as widespread as you believe, why is a Dollar Store moving to Chapel Street, just off the Green? I don’t care where people shop, but this is not my idea of gentrification.

Just wait until the rent is Jacked Up.They will not be there long.

posted by: Threefifths on May 19, 2014  11:00pm

My Bad. Here is the report.Push Out.

http://www.icphusa.org/PDF/reports/ICP Report_Pushed Out.pdf

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 20, 2014  6:16am

3/5 you are still missing the point. Rent in New Haven is expensive because a lack of quantity, a large population of student renters, and the fact that young people aren’t able to afford homes. The development of mixed income housing fixes that. Still homeless in a city with the largest percent of residents in public housing hasn’t been caused by gentrification. It is caused by a lack of homeless shelter and access to mental healthcare. Give one specific document example of people being forced out in New Haven because of gentrification? I am still waiting on to list services you would cut to keep the 80 beds lost.

posted by: Threefifths on May 20, 2014  9:27am

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 20, 2014 6:16am

Give one specific document example of people being forced out in New Haven because of gentrification? I am still waiting on to list services you would cut to keep the 80 beds lost.

Can you show me specific document example of people not being forced out in New Haven because of gentrification? Just look at the rents downtown.To answer your question about services you would cut to keep the 80 beds lost.You need more Affordable Apartments.

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 20, 2014  10:32am

3/5 really the rents downtown? Is New Haven not allowed to have a desirable areas in town? You realize 360 State is and the NHC site will mixed income right? Those are affordable. You understand that there is a housing shortage in town right? You understand that college students are a huge reason rents are so high in town right? You understand rents are being inflated by the depressed housing market? You also understand New Haven has an extremely large amount of public housing? How do any of these factors point to gentrification causing homelessness in New Haven? So you have no documented examples and working against Occam’s razor. You need to back your claims with real proof and not random links that have nothing to with the issues of New Haven.
Finally the protest was over a shelter being shut down. This protest was torn down by the City under the guise of public safety. Gentrification has almost nothing to do with this story.

posted by: Threefifths on May 20, 2014  4:23pm

@RhyminTyman Again Can you show me specific document example of people not being forced out in New Haven because of gentrification? Have you talk to people.I Have. I have had them on WPKN Radio.You say You realize 360 State is and the NHC site will mixed income right? Those are affordable. Affordable to who.Also what was the rents before 360 state st went up.How about those people on fixed income.Did you ask them why they had to move from downtown.Again show me specific document example of people not being forced out in New Haven because of gentrification?

posted by: Threefifths on May 20, 2014  4:31pm

@RhyminTyman.

You want proof.How about this.

Developer Ditches, Auctions Off Trolley Square.

Notice what he says.Lou Cox hopes Nemerson’s right about the interest. Cox, who moved his Channel 1 shop from downtown to Trolley Square, is on a month-to-month lease, paying $1,000 a month for 1,000 square feet. He worries about what will happen to tenants like him; he also worries about the building suffering from further neglect in the wrong hands.

If he is smart.He better start packing now.His rent will go sky high.

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/owner_ditches_auctions_off_trolley_square/

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 20, 2014  5:11pm

3/5 you are now using fallacies. It is like a extremely religious man telling an atheist the atheist needs to prove God doesn’t exist.  Skepticism and empirical evidence doesn’t work like that. You have no facts right now. On to part two. 1. Retail/commercial is much different than residential. 2. Rent has gone up yet. 3. The building needs to be updated. You act like ANY improvements is gentrification and blight is good thing. Well neither of those are the case.
Game. Set. Match.

posted by: robn on May 20, 2014  10:25pm

DS,

There was plenty of time to plan for “Now” in the far past when it was well known that the seasonal overflow shelter would be closed.

3/5,

Asking others to prove a negative again? Seriously?

posted by: Doctor Who on May 21, 2014  6:20am

There needs to be gentrification in New Haven.  The most dynamic and intelligent city in Connecticut is not reflected by its property values.  Value creators and businesses need people who can work responsibly, not the far gone homeless and their dingleberry protectors.  Improve the people, increased the educated, improve property values and improve the city.

posted by: Threefifths on May 21, 2014  9:04am

posted by: robn on May 20, 2014 10:25pm

3/5,

Asking others to prove a negative again? Seriously?

I have prove my points.Can you prove yours.


@RhyminTyman

You act like ANY improvements is gentrification and blight is good thing. Well neither of those are the case.
Game. Set. Match.

I never sid I was not for improvements.My problem is when people are force to leave.As far as Game set Match.Are you talikng about the Tennis Courts Construction coming next.

My bad.New Haven is in the first steps of Gentrification.It takes upward of five to ten years to see full Gentrification.Keep your eyes open if you still can afford to live here.

posted by: RhyminTyman on May 21, 2014  10:41am

3/5 the only reason you can claim that is because how bad of the city was after the failed policies of Urban Renewal. 10 years ago the city was inlivable now it is barely livable. We need nicer thing and attract more people to the city. We need to tear down projects and build mix income housing. Gentrification is not fixing problems and making improvements. Which benefit the middle class and the poor. The best way to remove crime is tear down the social barriers that were created over the last 50 years. This what is happening in New Haven. The we have went over the real reasons rents are high in New Haven. It has nothing to do with gentrification. Rents will probably rise do to inflationary monetary policies at the federal level not gentrification. Gentrification as you prescribed it in New Haven is simplely not real and more importantly you have yet to document your claims.

BTW there are plenty of tennis in New Haven already. The New Haven Lawn Club in East Rock is what 150 years old? Also I owe my home. If this was real it would great behoove me to have my house’s value increase. It means lower mill rate and greater resale value. What home owner wouldn’t want that?

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