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Chester, NY - Camp La Guardia Homeless Shelter to Close for Good

Published on: November 16, 2006 11:27 AM
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Chester, NY - City Department of Homeless Services officals and Orange County Executive Edward Diana are expected to make an announcement in New York City, that the Camp La Guardia homeless shelter is to be Close for Good, and Orange County will buy the camp property for $8 million.


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1

 Nov 29, 2006 at 11:34 PM C. Says:

This is obviously a much contested argument. I have not only lived in the neighborhood bordering Camp LaGuardia nearly all my life, but have served at the Camp for two years first as a volunteer and second as a full time Case Manager. I see the issue from several sides. In my time at the Camp I loved working with the clients, especially the elderly, undocumented and mentally ill. It was the administration which made the Camp the terrible warehouse that it was.

Our caseloads were as high as 45 at times and we were pressured on a daily basis to place men into "three-quarter homes" which is a nice way of saying a house full of bunking men, many on drugs or methadone and a complete lack of case management. Neither the NYC Department of Homelessness nor Volunteers of America cared about the fate of the men who were literally pushed into accepting this type of "housing." They would regularly place the mentally ill, the elderly, even veterans and retired men on petty pensions into such places. I spoke to sources who even offered pay-offs for such placements. NYC property owners would rent out bunks in over crowded three-quarter homes – collecting $215.00 in welfare rent payments (a.k.a. our tax dollars) and provide some of this money to the individuals (administration and corrupt case managers) who ensured on a monthly basis that beds would be filled.

As a Case Manager I often refused to place gentlemen into three-quarter homes. I refused a lot of things in my time at the Camp. The case managers were constantly made to fear for the loss of their jobs. The men were simply numbers - warehouse products, each carrying an "HA" number. The Volunteers of America Camp LaGuardia administration and the City of New York will tell you that programs existed to help the men - but it is simply not true. One psychiatrist for 1000 men, one substance abuse counselor, three housing specialists and less than thirty overworked and underpaid case managers.

In the end, the victim will always be the homeless client. Yes, men have walked the roads of Chester and some say they are "wandering." But "not all those who wander are lost." There have been offenses made toward the community on the part of Camp residents - but in no way do such offenses account for all the truly good men who passed through the gates of Camp LaGuardia in an effort to find a home.

I can and will proudly account for this. My time at Camp LaGuardia was an education in itself and I have only the clients to thank. The mayor's "five year plan" is made possible only through the selfless efforts of underappreciated case managers. The Camp began as an out-of-sight, out-of-mind tactic. Its leaving Chester is in the end only fair for the clients who were moved so far away from their city.

So, who is at loss here? More than the county which will loose thousands in tax dollars, more than the 240 plus Camp employees who face a loss of employment and no promise for future work... are (let's say it together) the 600 plus homeless men currently living at the shelter. The result will surely be that many clients will inevitably "fall through the cracks" in their transition to city shelters. As always paperwork will be lost and supportive relationships with trusted case managers cut off. But I am sure the men will do as so many of those have done before them (many of whom I had the pleasure of helping) - they will survive.

In working with the homeless you learn some of life's greatest lessons, one being this:
Even if you have dealt with the loss of your job, your possessions, your health, your family ties and your home... there is always something greater left to lose, something like dignity and the will to persist. I can only hope that the dignity of the City of New York which does so little to end homelessness and so much more to blanket it… and that the dignity of the town of Chester which showed so little empathy for its temporary homeless population… may one day be as strong as the dignity of so many nameless men who passed through those rusty but familiar barbed wire fences of Camp LaGuardia.

2

 Nov 28, 2006 at 02:53 PM Anonymous Says:

Did you know? Re; Camp LaGuardia

NYC DHS gives 1 million in taxes to the Town of bloomingrove and Town Chester.

10 thousand dollars to Chester PD for GAS.

Who will pay in the loss in tax dollars when camp closes?

Shelter residents have an impact on the economical well being on the local town stores.

Town residents lie when they say camp is cause for big crime in area. Only minor quilty of life offenses with only two major incidents since 1918.

local residents cause more crime in thier area tham camp residents do.

hope you can afford the loss the closing of camp will cause.

3

 Nov 16, 2006 at 05:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Anon 1:40

Are you OK ??

Why are you so angry ?

4

 Nov 16, 2006 at 01:40 PM Anonymous Says:

set up the homeless shelter at pataki's retirement home effective Jan. 1, 2007.

That bum!

5

 Nov 16, 2006 at 12:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Camp La Guardia to close; Orange County set to buy campus
Critics cheer news of the camp's

The Camp La Guardia men’s homeless shelter will close by June 2007, ending what has been a years-long contentious relationship between the 1,000-bed facility and its neighbors.
Orange County Executive Ed Diana is poised to announce this afternoon that the county will buy the 300-acre campus that straddles Blooming Grove and Chester for $8 million, according to Chester town supervisor Bill Tully. Legislator Noel Spencer though expressed doubt that the deal will go through. He said a purchase like that would have to be approved by the Legislature, which had not been informed of the deal before today.
Recordonline.com reported exclusively this morning that the camp was closing. That Web posting was followed about an hour later by an announcement from the city’s Department of Homeless Services. Diana is due to hold a news conference at 3 p.m.
Employees of the camp, including city DHS workers and staffers for the contract agency Volunteers of America, were told this morning of the camp’s closing by an administrator who came from New York City.
DHS employees, who are unionized, will not lose their jobs and will have the option to work at one of the many shelters in New York City, according to a DHS employee.
Talk of the camp’s demise swirled in recent months following after the shelter closed down parts of the campus. The camp announced in late September that parolees would no longer be admitted. Then, several weeks ago, about 150 residents of in-house programs at the shelter – Project Renewal and Odyssey House – were moved out of their dorms and into the main building, according to a DHS employee and a shelter resident.
Department officials denied to the Times Herald-Record in September that beds were being shut down or that the camp was going to close.
For opponents, the announced closing came as a relief.
“It’s magnificent. It’s the best thing that’s happened to us in years. It will put a lot of people’s concerns at ease,” Tully said.
“I can’t believe they’re actually doing it,” added Blooming Grove Supervisor Charles Bohan. “I’m ecstatic. This is going to give Chester a new life.”
Critics have complained for years that the camp eroded the area’s quality of life as homeless men drifted from the camp, wandering local roads, urinating in public and congregating at the ShopRite plaza in Chester.

6

 Nov 16, 2006 at 12:37 PM Anonymous Says:

Finnaly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7

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