Homeless Camp Cleaned Up

Paul Bass Photo City crews and homeless campers cleared 12 tons of trash from a newly discovered encampment Thursday. Officials and outreach workers then set about figuring out what to do with the homeless people who have been living there for years.

The clean-up occurred after the city received complaints from neighbors about all the trash at a wooded area off I-91, according to New Haven homeless coordinator Velma George.

It turned out that homeless people have been setting up tents in several clearings at the location, and piles upon piles of trash had been piling up. An estimated 15-20 people have been recently camped out there. (People present at the site asked that the precise location not be revealed.)

Working with Jesse Hardy, a homeless advocate in town, officials arranged for public works and parks employees to spend hours working alongside the homeless campers to fill bag after bag with trash and then haul it away. By mid-day, parks department heavy equipment operator Don Iannuzzi (pictured) estimated that he had hauled 12 tons of trash with his Volvo payloader. A state Department of Transportation crew helped, too.

“This is a beautiful thing,” Hardy (pictured) said of the way government swept in to help. “It was a mess back there.”

George also arranged for nurses and outreach workers from Columbus House, Liberty Community Services and Marrakesh as well as the city’s anti-blight agency, the Livable City Initiative, to come to the scene to help them.

George (pictured) encouraged the campers to go to emergency shelters for now. Her focus is on getting them more permanent housing, medical care and employment assistance, she said. “This is a big step for us. A lot of the people here were not connected to services before.”

George said the city doesn’t want the campers remaining at the site because it presents a danger to public health and safety.

Ross Lawson, who is 25 and said he has lived at the encampment for two years, said he has stayed at the emergency shelter at Grand Avenue but decided not to go back, because of the bedbugs and the general way it is run. He called the facility “a joke.”

Lawson said he grew up in Greenwich, landed in a sober house in Meriden, then got kicked out. He drifted to New Haven. He said he was “really happy that people came here” Thursday “to help us out and treat us like human beings.” His goal is to eventually find housing and finish college. He said he has three years toward a communication degree and hopes to become a journalist.

Dave Sadler, too, welcomed the help in clearing trash. He said he has tried for more than a year to clear some of the trash while living in the encampment. Food waste, in particular, attracted raccoons and other animals that tore apart trash bags, he said.

Sadler said he previously lived in an artist studio in the old Daggett Street Square complex in the Hill until authorities shut it down in March 2015 because of dangerous conditions and code violations. He lives on social security disability and can’t afford an apartment without a roommate, he said — and his disability makes it hard for him to find a roommate. “I’m dysfunctional. I’m not good at socializing,” he said.

Asked how he kept warm in the winter at the encampment, Sadler said he set up a “hot box” in his tent: He put three candles under a concrete block. He lit the candles, which heated the block, which in turn heated the tent.

“I was all for getting this crap out,” he said, as he helped lug debris from the area.

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posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 1, 2016  5:48pm

I personally was hesitant to complain about the encampment because they are really out of the way and not bothering anyone. And some people just can’t do shelters for what ever reason. But the trash was spilling over. Also some of the residents are our highway exit panhandlers and they also frequent the dealer on state street in the alley next to the package store. So there are also a few addicts in the group. I am glad to see some help was offered to them. Even if one person is saved this is a win!

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2016  6:41pm

This is a beautiful thing,” Hardy (pictured) said of the way government swept in to help. “It was a mess back there.

And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America?’ And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. . .

Dr.King.

George (pictured) encouraged the campers to go to emergency shelters for now. Her focus is on getting them more permanent housing, medical care and employment assistance, she said. “This is a big step for us. A lot of the people here were not connected to services before.”

Ross Lawson, who said he is 25 and has lived at the encampment for two years, said he has stayed at the emergency shelter at Grand Avenue but decided not to go back, because of the bedbugs and the general way it is run. He called the facility “a joke.”

Again Snake-Oil and Three card monte being sold to the homeless by Judas Goat Leaders.What shelters?

We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside… but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed.  True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar.  It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved.  We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.”

Dr.king.

Look the city had all year to deal with this problem.

It will be the same thing next year.The homeless need housing case closed!!!!

posted by: new havener on December 1, 2016  10:44pm

It’s sad, to be sure, but the camp just moves…one year along the West River off Derby Ave, the next, in the woods off Springside Ave, now along an I-91 exit. Offers for help are out there, and New Haven certainly has enough generosity, but the hardy homeless bunch are nothing if not honest. They want life on their terms. Let them be, but give them a garbage pickup, a porta-potty, and some type of shower facility. that’s about as humane as they want it.

posted by: Bradley on December 1, 2016  11:12pm

The homeless need housing and a “housing first” approach is generally the best strategy. But a fair number of the homeless people I see every week at the Sunrise Cafe have mental illnesses, (including the addicts CedarHillResident mentions).These individuals need housing, but also need other services to avoid becoming homeless again.

posted by: PapaJoe on December 2, 2016  8:20am

Prison is another place to stay I see lots of homeless people in the system and I ask what brought you to prison ? it’s cold living outdoors he said, sad story maybe Trump will help out the HOMELESS

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 2, 2016  8:44am

When the ACLU won its lawsuit to remove people with mental health issues from institutions, the plan called for the creation of community based facilities, housing coupled with services. Government never followed through and we started seeing people without homes in public places.
These people have survived as best they can, but it is not good enough.
Churches and non-profit groups, along with some government sponsored shelters have sprouted up to meet the need, but the need has not been met.
We have many abandoned buildings and low cost homes that could be used, but state and local governments have huge financial issues themselves.
Dr. King saw the limits of capitalism and the diversion of wealth into needless wars and rightly questioned the whole system.
Until we collectively decide to do things differently, it appears that we will have to individually pitch in and help out.

posted by: vpaul on December 2, 2016  9:23am

Seems to be saying clean up first, THEN worry about the people. Un-twist the priorities here, please.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2016  9:33am

Check this program out.

EXCLUSIVE: City to pay New Yorkers who house their homeless relatives in ‘Home for the Holidays’ campaign


The city is offering to pay friends and family members of homeless shelter residents to take in their less fortunate loved ones for up to a year as part of a new program timed to the holidays.

The “Home for the Holidays” program launched this week, and is being offered to 5,000 families who have been living in shelters for at least 90 days.

The host family will get a taxpayer-funded $500 gift card for their hospitality, and extra money toward their rent.

Depending on the size of the family they take in, the host families will receive $1,200, $1,500 and $1,800 a month for up to a year.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/city-pay-new-yorkers-house-homeless-relatives-article-1.2895183

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 2, 2016  9:49am

Bradley,
Sadly I have been dealing with this issue a lot longer than most know. My daughter, who is bipolar is homeless. When she made her way back to New Haven and landed right in the hospital I advocated for her as best I could (and I am a force to be reckoned with). But sadly the mentally ill in this city have less options than an addict or a mental ill addict. There are no beds for the mentally ill homeless that have avoided becoming an addict. And yes there are some services available. But they are geared for “sane” people. Mentally ill need to approached differently. The way I see it, it has to be housing first. Once a person has a secure and safe place to stay. The rest will happen. But first you have to detox them from survival mode.

posted by: vpaul on December 2, 2016  9:56am

3/5 provides an idea worth exploring. City should work up the numbers, as did NYC, and see if it makes fiscal sense. Am enthused to see serious new thinking toward solving an age-old problem!

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on December 2, 2016  10:02am

12 TONS of TRASH?!

I’m all for helping the homeless community, even if it means an informal settlement in a school zone… BUT, to destroy an ecosystem with 12 TONS of trash is just unfair to OUR community at large.

This is a cluster of mostly Non-New Haven residents (many with warrants) who are almost 100% actively using heroine, crack, and other destructive drugs. 

They keep coming here because of our identity as a SANTUARY for the homeless and they’re spreading thin the resources we have for our existing mentally unwell / homeless population.

(Here’s some info on the transitioning population http://trendct.org/2015/05/06/where-do-homeless-families-come-from-in-connecticut/)

If the “joke” that is our shelters aren’t good enough for these out-of-towners…and they’re willing to destroy our town with !!!12 TONS of GARBAGE!!!  maybe they should go back to their suburban homeland and set up a garbage camp in the woodlands there?

Not to single out GREENWICH or anything… but that town would NOT STAND for a 12 TOP garbage heap collecting adjacent to their schools!! Let’s not stand for it either!

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 2, 2016  10:34am

vpaul
an idea that may work for a few. But again I am going to use my experience as an example. Some mentally ill are not necessarily stable people. My daughter can get down right violent for no reason. And she last time we took her in she had some shady people in my home when we were at work. A good part of New Haven homeless fit this same situation. Money like that for one person is a lot. What they need is supervised rooming houses. Many of these folks again are in survival mode. There way of doing things and dealing with the world are off. The need to be reprogramed, detoxed and medicated. Then they need to learn so of the basics again so they are able to hold a job…get a job. Well anywho that is the way I see it.

posted by: dcoon on December 2, 2016  10:48am

The city should let them live in the ice rink that New Haven can’t seem to manage properly and is now closed.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2016  10:51am

posted by: vpaul on December 2, 2016 8:56am

3/5 provides an idea worth exploring. City should work up the numbers, as did NYC, and see if it makes fiscal sense. Am enthused to see serious new thinking toward solving an age-old problem!

Correct. Look at what they are saving.

The program could also end up saving the taxpayers money.

It costs a whopping $40,000 a year to shelter one family in the system, which is nearly double what the city would pay for a family getting the maximum stipend for the same time period under the new program.Anyone who qualifies will still be considered a shelter resident, and remain eligible for rent subsidy programs like LINC or CITYFEPS.Banks said that the idea for the program came after the city launched a holiday-themed initiative last year for homeless veterans.At the time, the city was trying to end chronic homelessness among vets, and appealed to landlords to take in a vet for the holidays. The appeal was successful — about 1,000 vets found places to live

New Haven warming centers are a joke and a waste of money.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on December 2, 2016 9:02am

If the “joke” that is our shelters aren’t good enough for these out-of-towners…and they’re willing to destroy our town with !!!12 TONS of GARBAGE!!!  maybe they should go back to their suburban homeland and set up a garbage camp in the woodlands there?

Blaming the victim. Again ask youself why did the city take so long to deal with this problem.


My Bad. May Be the gentrification vampires have there eye on this area?Time will tell.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 2, 2016  11:03am

oh and added note…some will say but we have the Columbus house shelter….yeah…they offer NOTHING to the unstable mentally ill. They are offered a cot, no case worker, and kicked out on the street in the am. They told me they do this so people do not get comfortable. Which I get….if it was just a case of being lazy…but many are just not capable and need help learning how to be “normal” again in order to break the cycle. That is why I say supervised rooming.

posted by: newhaven55 on December 2, 2016  11:19am

just saying, priorities: Is that a cigarette in the hand in the first photo?

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 2, 2016  11:40am

@ Cedarhill: Great points.

posted by: vpaul on December 2, 2016  1:08pm

Yes, Cedar. There is no universal solution. Certain methods may work for some; others for others. We should be attacking the problem on multiple fronts.

Good work, Paul! Once again, your articles provoke much needed debate. Thank you.

posted by: Glenn on December 2, 2016  1:30pm

12 tons? I am skeptical of the estimate, but do believe a lot of trash gets generated by a homeless camp. The shelters are not so good as one might think. Columbus house looks good for those they let in. Many homeless have reasons not to stay in the shelter (like drinking or drugging) and there really aren’t enough shelters. Camping in the winter is not an easy choice to make, I think it is an extreme choice to be making. Homelessness is sometimes a way of life I think, and some homeless are actually hard core and helplessly independent.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on December 2, 2016  1:47pm

Just pointing out, Paul, that when you write “Officials and outreach workers then set about figuring out what to do with the homeless people who have been living there for years,” you might want to consider your phrasing. 

“... what to do *about*” or ” ... what to do *for*” might both have been better choices.

Reading the article I do get that the authorities that showed up are humane and concerned, and their removal of trash,at least, was welcomed by the folks in the camp.  Even so, though, your casting the issue as “what to do WITH” these people implies that the people themselves are objects to be tossed around or classified or sent to treatment or whatever, as opposed to human beings in need.

I’m not a sociologist but I am a writer, and so are you, and these little choices matter.

posted by: Bradley on December 2, 2016  1:51pm

Cedarhillresident, we actually agree (and I know you are a force to be reckoned with from our interactions in East Rock!). My point was that a housing first approach is sound but not a panacea.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2016  3:55pm

@  cedarhillresident

To deal with the people who have mental illnesses.The state has to deal with them.In fact New York has the State Department of Mental Hygiene is composed of several autonomous offices: the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the Office of Mental Health (OMH), and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.You have Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens Village, Queens, New York,  that provides inpatient, outpatient and residential services for severely mentally ill patients.You also have Bronx Psychiatric Center.

http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/facilities/brpc/index.htm

In fact New York state have centers all over the state.

http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/aboutomh/omh_facility.html

We need to fight for this.

I also found out talking to homeless people the reason why they come to New Haven from other towns is the Connecticut Department of Social Services is in New Haven which covers towns like orange west haven and milford.

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 2, 2016  4:06pm

@NEWnewhaven:

you appear to suffer from EDD (empathy deficiency disorder) in blaming people w/o homes for having trash.
If the City didn’t pick up yours, who would?
Perhaps you’d like to donate some receptacles to these improvised camps instead of picking on them.
As for mental illness or drug use, no one chooses to be ill. It is a problem of brain function that some people drink and never become alcoholics. The real rant should go to the levels of government who allow seriously ill people to try to survive on their own without supports.
Maybe EDD is really just white male privilege in the end.
I await the latest research on this.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 2, 2016  4:55pm

ok so @3/5ths I am revealing more about my own personal experiences. So my daughter is well traveled manic! She knows how to take a train for free, she knows how to get a flight for free…At this point in time she is in Manhattan (at least that is what she says, she has also said I kidnapped her from Japan). And she has been in Hospitals in NY many times and NJ, CA NV FL and I am sure many more. But if these programs are out there in NY she has had no luck, or it could be no desire.  I have and even someone from yale pych tried to get a free clinic for her to go to for help up there. This at least to me is no different than new haven….window dressing to make the non homeless feel better about the homeless.

@Bradley there is a solution. Make insurance company’s, state medical and federal medical pay for it. My daughter is in and out of the hospital constantly! The last time she was in a new haven one (a few weeks back) the people that were in there with her were all repeats to. The cost for that 2 weeks stay over and over and over….times how many people? A supervised rooming situation can offer the same dang thing at a lot less money, savings can actually come from this. And may actually help a lot more people in the end. Just a thought. I like to dream of the impossible.

@Patricia you rock! I have been out and or in social situations when the topic of homeless people comes up for what ever reason…and the things that some people say, (I don’t think they really it do to be mean)but I love dropping the bomb on them that a family member of mine is homeless at this point in time and I give a little education ...I think it changes their look on the situation (at least I hope it does).

posted by: Patricia Kane on December 2, 2016  5:21pm

@Cedarhill: thank you for sharing some hard stuff.
  I had a brother (my favorite one) who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was in the military in Germany. He was bounced around military hospitals and medicated to a zombie stage until my house bound mother became Wonder Woman and went to DC and got him out. Fortunately he got a medical discharge AND benefits for the rest of his all too short life.
  Because he was brilliant, he enrolled in UMass and became a perpetual student. I still remember howling with laughter over the phone as he told me that George Washington and others could have been gay, but everyone share a bed in the military in those days.
  His Wake was the fun affair the Irish are known for. Everyone had a crazy story to tell about him and we laughed til we cried.
  He was one of the lucky ones. The government made sure he had a home and food and paid for his perpetual education.
  My family made sure he knew he was loved.
  I wish that much for all those in need.

posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on December 2, 2016  5:36pm

@cedarhillresident I’m sorry to hear of your family’s experiences with mental illness.  It’s a long, hard road.  Best wishes to your daughter and all who care about her.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 2, 2016  7:15pm

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 2, 2016 3:55pm

ok so @3/5ths I am revealing more about my own personal experiences. So my daughter is well traveled manic! She knows how to take a train for free, she knows how to get a flight for free…At this point in time she is in Manhattan (at least that is what she says, she has also said I kidnapped her from Japan)

As you said I am revealing more about my own personal experiences.But from my personal experiences I have seen these place work.I have family who have very bad mental illnesses.I have a cousin who was a captain in Vietnam.He was at The Battle of Hamburger Hill.look it up.He made it out,But has mental illnesses was trace to him being in Vietnam.His mental illness is so bad that if he does not take his Meds He can not be around Asian people.He will try to hurt them do to the fact that being around them brings him back to when he was at The Battle of Hamburger Hill.So his mother had him committed.This was about seven years ago.He is out and a outpatient. As long as he takes his Meds he is manageable.I take to Knick games no problem.Same with my other family members who have mental illnesses.You have to work with them and there doctors.If the doctors are not working with them.You got to try and find another one.You say And she has been in Hospitals in NY many times and NJ, CA NV FL and I am sure many more. But if these programs are out there in NY she has had no luck, or it could be no desire.You then have to pick it up.Sounds like you have give up on her.You can have her committed.But I think that the City to pay New Yorkers who house their homeless relatives in ‘Home for the Holidays’ campaign is still a good program that should be look it here.Bottom line. You need to fight for your daughter.

posted by: NHInsider on December 3, 2016  1:53am

TheNEWnewhaven-it should be made clear that this is a garbage dump, and that the homeless did not create the tons of garbage.  The have been moved from at least 20 different locations in my 25 years of working in the City.  There are not enough shelters to house the City’s homeless, and zero shelters for couples. Even on nights with sub-zero temperatures, the City will open schools and other locations, but they must be out before sunrise. Until the City and State stop ‘fudging’ the numbers to look good for the Feds, these people (many of whom are Veterans) will continued to be forced to live in the City’s garbage mounds.

posted by: robn on December 5, 2016  8:18am

As you can see on page 20 of this years budget, money spent on human services (not including eduction) is a paltry part of our budget (2%). The majority is spent upon education (35%), employee benefits (16%), public safety (14%), debt service (12%), and pensions (10%). Portions of the big budgets are naturally diverted to human services but it’s still not huge.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 5, 2016  9:16am

3/5th I am actually the only person left in my family that refuses to give up on her. But I can not take her in, the past few times she has made several attempts to kill me. (only because of her illness, which I know but my family does not care why). This week she finally had a warrant removed so I am hoping she is starting to head in the right direction. She got her first ID in years…and is looking for a job. But the issue is she is not on her meds so she gets flakey and people notice right after she starts the jobs.  She needs to be on medication for at least a year (or at least 6 months) before I can take her in…which I am willing to do. The hospital says there is no room to commit her. They put her in on IOP but that means having to navigate the shelter system (where she was sexually harassed the last time she was at CH). And she was to afraid to go back there. So she headed to NYC…..and is now not on meds again. She calls and checks in. I let her know how much I love her, and I also reminder that she need to get on her meds and get therapy. And that this is the way she can get back into my house. Simple to say. Not easy to do. When she is fully on her meds she is amazing!! And smart and totally capable! I miss that girl A LOT. Everyday my heart is broken and is crying for her to find her way! 
Thanks GP
Patricia she did that for a few years when this all started (she worked in the admin off at scsu and learned how to get grants and fund while working there) But she is just not that focused at this point. More manic. I am glad your family member was able to find a safe place. I wish all our mentally ill family members could find that safe place.

[Paul: CHR: Thank you so much for sharing this story. Many of us have wrestled with similar wrenching situations with relatives; it feels better to hear from people who wrestle with the same.]

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on December 5, 2016  2:05pm

Patricia Kane:
“You appear to suffer from EDD (empathy deficiency disorder) in blaming people w/o homes for having trash…”
“Maybe EDD is really just white male privilege in the end. I await the latest research on this.”

Patricia,.. SERIOUSLY? You’re trying to discredit my opinion on 12 TONS of garbage being left behind by pulling the race card? You assume my sexuality and ethnicity and are willing to discredit my thoughts because of that??  Are you saying a white man living in New Haven does not have the same weight in his voice and has no right to voice concern about things he disagrees with?

Your choice to bring RACE into this when the topic is about HOUSING the HOMELESS… is embarrassing. The Millennial white boy “gentrifying” University Place HAS EQUAL input as the Upper Westville Baby Boomer Black mother of three. If you disagree then you need to really take a step back and look at what you’re saying. 

What’s funny is I specifically voiced frustration over the WHITE MALE from GREENWICH and his comments about our city shelter being a joke… if he was instead a black woman from Bridgeport I’d probably be banned from commenting after my input!   

I stand by the idea that people should “carry out what they carry in.”
I don’t care if it’s a campsite in a national park, a beach in Connecticut, a playground, subway/chipotle/Pita Ziki or an informal settlement of homeless transients – remove your trash so others don’t have to.

As NHInsider noted after our comments,…this place may apparently have been the site of an informal dump preexisting the settlement of these residents. 

It seems as though I was WRONG to ASSUME these residents were the reason for 12 TONS of WASTE!

I realize now that it’s wrong to assume.

Very wrong.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 5, 2016  2:59pm

@cedarhillresident. I agree with you.But there has got to be some kind of help for her down there.Like I said my cousin mother had to put him away.You are correct when they take there meds they are amazing.As far as the hospital saying there is no room to commit her. You can find one.There are place upstate New York.You have to look around.To be fair my cousin mother had help from the V A.but she still had to fight to get him outside help.You have to keep on fighting.It is not easy.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on December 5, 2016  4:45pm

3/5th I will never give up on her! I have spoken to many who have family member and are or have gone through this. So say walk away. So say do what I am doing, and some say I am wrong for not taking her in. I actually go to therapy so I can handle this whole thing right.  And I pray the day comes where I have her back again.

Paul I think when people see a story like this they think….bums…and they are not. They are people….even ones from Greenwich. Some are homeless because of drugs and drinking, mental heath issues, abuse, and a list of other reasons…all are people and all deserve to be treated as such. Some times sharing a little bit of a personal tale can enlighten those who may of read a story one way and may now see it through the eyes of say….the mother of that homeless person. I have always said you never know if someday that person can be you or a family member…so treat them all as if they are!

posted by: vpaul on December 6, 2016  6:58pm

Robn, you’ve proved that “debt service” is six times more important than human lives in this budget. We need a thorough housecleaning of the Board Of Alders.