3 Arrested, 86 Matched To Housing

Police made three arrests as the city dismantled a short-lived camp for homeless people, just after the mayor announced progress in a new longer-term community effort to make sure all New Haveners are housed.

The arrests happened Friday afternoon at 634 Howard Ave., where activists and homeless people had set up a protest encampment calling on the city to implement policies to help people without housing. (Click the video to see the arrests.)

Mayor Toni Harp said the city had received a number of complaints about the camp, which she called unsanitary and unsafe.

Harp made those remarks at a Friday afternoon press conference in City Hall. The mayor joined officials from city and social services agencies to announce that a 100-day campaign to house the most vulnerable of the city’s homeless has matched 86 people to housing.

Friday’s police action was the second time the city has removed such a camp this year. The city made two arrests when it took down an occupation by the same activists in May, in a vacant lot on Rosette Street. Two of the three people arrested Friday had been arrested in May.

Mayor Harp also announced that she has signed on to the Mayors Challenge To End Veteran Homelessness, a federal effort to end homelessness among veterans by 2015.


The police showed up at 634 Howard Ave. at just before 4 p.m. Three staffers from Columbus House were on the scene as well.

Letticia Brown-Gambino, who works at Columbus House, said it was the third time they’d visited the camp in 24 hours to offer shelter to people. “No real takers,” she said. “It’s their choice. Shelter beds are available.”

With eviction imminent, campers began dismantling tents and moving everything out onto the sidewalk.

“It’s really a shame,” said Anna Rose Gable, one of the organizers. She said 10 homeless people spent the night at the camp Thursday.

“It’s terrible,” said a homeless man who was packing up. He declined to give his name. The camp was not causing any problems, he said. “Everything is nice and clean.”

“I’m going to sleep on the street,” he said. He said he wouldn’t go to a shelter, to be with “thieves and crackheads.” He said he’d had a wallet and a watch stolen at the Grand Avenue shelter.

“I liked it,” neighbor Shacara Mcinnis said of the camp. “It didn’t bother me. All the people were friendly.”

Linda Jordan, another neighbor, said she had offered to make food for the camp that evening. “They didn’t bother me. They were fine.”

But neighbor Abdullah Shahedah, who had called the cops on Thursday when the campers first showed up, said he was glad to see the camp go. “They didn’t have any facilities,” he said. “They were shitting in buckets.”

That happened only one time, in the night, said Gable. She said she cleaned the bucket out first-thing Friday morning.

The campers left one tent standing. Hold-outs Gregory Williams and Flor Jones sat outside it; Mark Colville lay down inside.

Williams said they had three demands of the city: Stop arresting or harassing people for sleeping in public places; restore all shelter beds that were eliminated this year; and change zoning codes to create more low-income housing in the city.

Cops moved in and arrested the three men. Jones went silently, walked out by two cops. Williams (pictured) went out chanting, carried by four cops. Colville walked out chanting as well.

The city’s Livable City Initiative planned to remove the remaining tent, repair a gate to the property, and lock the site.


A couple of hours before the arrests, the activists showed up to hold signs of protest at a City Hall press conference on homelessness, where officials announced their progress on a 100-day challenge to house people.

The 100-day challenge kicked off on June 1 with a goal of housing 107 of the city’s chronically homeless, the people who have been without housing for the longest and need the most support.

Since that time, a consortium of federal, state and local organizations and agencies has created new systems for working together and sharing resources. As a result, providers have been able to remove bureaucratic and logistical hurdles and house homeless people in record times.

“We are making progress,” Harp (pictured) said Friday afternoon in the atrium of City Hall.

“We are seeing a new way of doing business,” said Alison Cunningham, head of the Columbus House. “We’re no longer working in silos.” The goal, she said, is not simply to offer shelter, but to offer housing.

“Today I signed a lease to my apartment,” said Gary Clempson, who said he was homeless for four years, sleeping on friends’ couches and inside. He found help at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Joseph Jackson (pictured) said he also found a place to live, after an extended time of homelessness. “To this day, I can’t really tell you how much it means to have a permanent place to live.”

Leigh Shields-Church, team leader for the 100-day campaign, said 39 people have been housed since June 1, and 47 more have been matched to housing.

It’s the beginning of an entirely new way of dealing with homelessness in New Haven, Sheilds-Church said after the press conference. People can now be matched to housing in as fast as two weeks, she said.

Organizations are now talking to each other and working together, said Lisa Tepper-Bates (pictured), head of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is, she said. “That’s a revolution.”

It’s been “a quantum leap forward,” toward the national goal of having no one be homeless for more than 30 days, she said.

Matching a total of 86 people to housing is short of the 107-person goal set at the beginning of the 100-day challenge. Shields-Church said the city will reach that number soon—and then set a new goal, to keep pushing the process forward.


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posted by: wendy1 on July 25, 2014  7:35pm

Some quantum leap….I do believe if Greg Williams and his group hadn’t forced the issue, there would not have been a press conference.  The local non-profits are inadequate to the size of the demand.  The VA says they are doing a great job but I keep meeting homeless vets. I suspect they dont want to live at Columbus House which is part of the VA process believe it or not.  Everyone was kowtowing to Alison Cunningham, the shelter god, but my homeless friends are not impressed.

posted by: robn on July 25, 2014  10:31pm

Permanently Housing 87 chronically homeless people is a great achievement if it lasts. I look forward to the results surviving the test of time; hopefully we’ll get verification next year that these people have truly had their lives stabilized.

posted by: wendy1 on July 26, 2014  2:45pm

According to the NHI months ago, there are over 1000 homeless here and about 30 die each year.

Later I was informed more die from heat than from cold.  At a United Way Steering Com. meeting, I heard a man from the VA talk about his surprise at finding so many homeless on a few blocks of Hamden’s Dixwell Ave.  I see homeless citizens all over town

I’ve handed out maps, street sheets, food, and cash.  This is not enough.  Yale or the city or rich private citizens must be persuaded to DO SOMETHING.  I am writing a letter to members of Yale’s BOT.  They have a gated community in the middle of our ghetto.  How do they feel about that?

posted by: Paul Wessel on July 26, 2014  2:45pm

Great action.  Keep it up.

There’s a nice, so far unused, lot on the corner of Orange and Chapel.  Close to the bus lines, the Green and the new dollar store.  Perhaps the next opportunity?

posted by: Q-Bridge on July 26, 2014  9:33pm

Gregory Williams wants the city to build more low income housing. The city has been creating dozens of new scattered housing units over the past few years. As these units are created, crime in the neighborhoods sky rockets and property values plummet. Not just petty crime, violent crime. The Quinnipiac Avenue area is becoming Newhallville east. And who is going to pay for all of the new housing Mr Williams would like to create? The law abiding residents of this city are not going to take much more of this. We can’t continue down this road.

posted by: Billy on July 26, 2014  9:44pm

86 people is wonderful start. Congratulations to Leigh and all of her colleagues!

However, given the number of homeless people in and around New Haven, “revolution” is far too strong of a word. I hope that the protestors will stay involved, and turn their “civil disobedience” into an actually productive partnership to help the non-profits advance from a good start to an actual revolution. A revolution in the way things are done is needed to address the problem, and those who are professionals in the housing world only have one part of the solution. They can’t possibly develop the thinking to envision and plan a housing revolution on their own. Mayor Harp’s comments, and those of the non-profit leaders she has gathered around her, throughout this process point clearly to that.

There are a lot of people sleeping in unsafe or uncomfortable places tonight who are depending on everyone involved in this to step up. Keep pushing protestors, but not just by chanting and camping. Keep pushing non-profits, but don’t shut out the Amistad folks and their allies.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 27, 2014  10:40am

I disagree Cedar Hill is the sister of Newhallville We get no cops, we had them for a short time but they were taken from us 6 months ago (do the math on that one) We have columbus house we have leeway (adding 100 more beds which we supported). Thinking we would have officers maintaining the crime.  We have clean and sober houses, halfway houses and many of those scattered housing (which is not scattered if it is lumped into one area). Leeway and Columus house are great programs. We are able to go to Leeway if we have any issues. But columbus house does have a few issues. We had a guy and friends that were area dealers living or visiting there. But as a whole they have become ok neighbors. Still waiting for the PD to do something about 1412 State street herion den (many of the residents are on the sex offender registery) with dealers and users. THis seems to draw in the homeless heroin addicts into our area. Not good for our children. So something needs to happen. 86 is a start.
What about the old gatway?? Being set up as housing and onsite programs to help the homeless? Turning the parking lot into a greenhouse area. It is already state owned and is not on the tax roll. We can get homeless to rehab the building teaching them construction skills.
We also need to look at who are the 1000 homeless?
You have your down and out folks who just had some bad luck. Which I am sure are who the 86 are.
Convicts that are released at Whalley from all over the state.
You have your mentally ill who need more than just a roof over there heads they would need some kind of supervised housing and treatment. And maybe some court intervention. making them a ward of the state.
And you have your addicts and alcoholics. Who would need to want help. And seem to be the ones that hurt the quality of life for many community’s in the city.
How many of the 1000 fit into each of these catagory’s?
And we NEED to get surrounding citys to start taking care of there own.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 27, 2014  10:42am

posted by: Q-Bridge on July 26, 2014 9:33pm

Gregory Williams wants the city to build more low income housing. The city has been creating dozens of new scattered housing units over the past few years. As these units are created, crime in the neighborhoods sky rockets and property values plummet. Not just petty crime, violent crime. The Quinnipiac Avenue area is becoming Newhallville east. And who is going to pay for all of the new housing Mr Williams would like to create? The law abiding residents of this city are not going to take much more of this. We can’t continue down this road.

The wealthy structured system is to deprive the working class and poor by having min.wage too low to get an apt.Real estate is finite.  As the world becomes increasingly crowded, housing becomes limited. Limited housing drives up demand.When there is increased demand and limited supply competition,the suppliers typically raise the prices.That’s why housing is more expensive in cities versus rural areas.The 99% need to uprise against the 1%,like the French Revolution of 1793.

No State Is a 40-Hour, Minimum Wage Work Week Enough to Afford a Two-Bedroom Apartment


posted by: cedarhillresident! on July 27, 2014  10:54am

And one more thing many would say the undocumented immigrant population. But I honestly have not seen that at all. It seems that they take care of eachother setting up roommate situations.  Which may be something we can learn from. Sharing in household responsibility. And learning to live with others and building a trust. A basic that long term homeless have learned as a survival skill.
We seem to gravitate to looking for studios or rooming housing situations. But I think that supervised roommate situations. Can build support situations that many homeless do not have. But Supervised is key.

posted by: Dwightstreeter on July 28, 2014  8:48am

The actions of the Catholic Amistad group follows a tradition of non-violent protest and activism that is much needed right now when financial inequality is an established fact.

I shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of empathy expressed by some commentators, all of whom seem to have permanent shelter.

The need for permanent homes is not just a problem for the de-institutionalized mentally ill, or the addict or alcoholic brought down by PTSD or other trauma; it is also about the skilled workers experiencing chronic unemployment or debilitating health problems.

Go volunteer at a shelter if you don’t believe me. You’ll be surprised to meet people just like yourself.

And one day it could be you in that shelter.

And wouldn’t you want someone to stand with you to demand that your government not spend $550 million on a new bomber when it could provide housing and support the “pursuit of happiness”?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 28, 2014  11:24am

posted by: Dwightstreeter on July 28, 2014 8:48am

And one day it could be you in that shelter


Having a Job, or 2, Doesn’t Mean Having a Home.

On many days, Alpha Manzueta gets off from one job at 7 a.m., only to start her second at noon. In between she goes to a place she’s called home for the last three years — a homeless shelter.Advocates of affordable housing say that the employed homeless are proof of the widening gap between wages and rents — which rose in the city even during the latest recession — and, given the shortage of subsidized housing, of just how difficult it is to escape the shelter system, even for people with jobs.


The only way the homeless will win is they must do this.

The Callahan Legacy:  Callahan v. Carey and the Legal Right to Shelter


posted by: StLukes on July 30, 2014  2:18am

Kudos to Amistad Catholic Worker and the efforts to keep this in sight and not forgotten.  Look forward to the city of New a Haven keeping her promises.

Fr. Meadows