Monday, July 25, 2011

Too much advocacy?

Hwei-Ling Greeney: passionate advocate for the homeless

The Committee on Homelessness put up a fiesty defense tonight against the Select Board idea of merging them into a new entity more closely resembling the current Housing Partnership Fair Housing Committee, mainly because they are too passionate about advocating for the needs of the homeless.

Hwei-Ling Greeney, Chair of the Committee on Homelessness pointed out that the Housing Partnership has been in existence for almost 30 years and did nothing for the homeless. Ms. Greeney also observed that individual Select Board members did not show up this past winter at the shelter to drop off food or play cards with guests, yet now they are making this momentous decision impacting the shelter.

When Milestone Ministries announced last week they would not renew their contract to run the homeless shelter this coming season, partly because of "micromanaging" by the Committee on Homelessness, the Select Board took direct aim at legislating the committee out of existence. Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe called Milestone's decision "A serious step backwards."

A charge Ms. Greeney said "scapegoated" her committee.

Homeless advocate Kevin Noonan said Town Meeting can be "contentious" yet nobody talks about merging them with the Select Board. He also noted that Pastor Desroches of Milestone Ministries mentioned the "micromanaging" issue almost as an aside rather than a major game changer.

The town has secured $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for the upcoming season to operate the shelter and Ms Greeney said she knew of five organizations that would respond to a town Request For Proposals and be ready to open the shelter November 1.

Had any of the homeless attended tonight's meeting to observe the one hour "discussion" they probably would have felt elated that town government is fighting over them so passionately.

Kevin Noonan called the "vilification" of the Committee on Homelessness "disturbing"

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is "disturbing" is how much power to wreak havoc Ms. Greeney has had even after she was defeated for Select Board.

What is "disturbing" is how political power in Amherst is uncoupled from the ability to attract votes.

You can become a political boss in Amherst for a song with no consent of the governed. Once you have figured this out, why bother with running for office?

If you want to be "disturbed", check out Hwei-Ling talking the Select Board to death at the July 18meeting. She's an unguided missile, but in public, we're all required to offer her our undying thanks and gratitude.

Anonymous said...

The homeless don't vote, check!

Anonymous said...

What's the ratio of homeless people to advocates on their behalf in Amherst? If you throw in the duplicate agencies and freelance busybodies it must be pretty close to 1:1. Why not just have all the advocates for the homeless put up one homeless person in their living room? Problem solved at minimal expense.

LarryK4 said...

There's two or three that show up pretty regularly in the police reports.

Anonymous said...

I loved listening to the selectboard meeting when the director for Milestone Ministries proclaimed succes, and that we had people coming all the way from Springfield! Remember back it the day when every sponge in America would move to Massachusetts because the welfare system was so easy to manipulate. Now Amherst is going to be known for the "Hotel for the Homeless". Don't get me wrong I'm willing to help get the local folks back on thier feet, but for crying out loud do we need to import more!
I also like the Bulletins write up that some were complaining that the "Free Meal" that was being served did have enough vegetables. I'd say it sure beats what many of the homeless would be eating if the shelter wasn't serving meals at all! This isn't a nutritional education program people. This is so these folks can go to to bed having a warm meal. I'm sure the Agawam resturant that was nice enough to donate the food was thrilled to hear that.
It's no wonder knowbody wants to run this operation you have to deal with a commitee of village idiots all the time!!

Anonymous said...

Better yet, why not put them in your home.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:11 p.m.: Spoken like a true Amherst liberal. I'm not the one flaunting my concern for homelessness (and pulling down a salary for it). Why not let the people who think it's such a crucial issue solve it themselves?

Anonymous said...

This importing them topic is the same with the schools. People from as far away as Connecticut have been known to move here because they hear the amount of money being spent on the SPED programs in the schools is higher than anywhere else. Same goes with the homeless. Let's do what Oakland and San Francisco used to do. The police in San Francisco used to give the homeless one way bus tickets to Oakland. Lets give them all one way bus tickets to Northampton.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, I'm not accusing you of showing concern. But winter's bitterly cold and homeless people can't sleep outdoors.

Anonymous said...

I agree but how many, and from how far away do we start adopting the homeless? And if anyone complains about a free meal let them go without! I'm sorry if this sounds cold, but I work (2) jobs to keep things together one full time and another almost full time. And if any of my money is going to be used to support this program I'm taking a hardnosed approach to it. It's hard to feel overly sympathetic when several intersections now have people that can stand for hours on end panhandling, but can't work flipping burgers or at one of the big box stores, Lowes is hiring! If the argument is going to be, well their disabled and can't work. Let's pack everyone up take them over to Riverside Industries and show them how a truly disabled person can be a productive member of society. I apoligize for the lengthy post and if it ran a little off topic, but my work ethic boils on this topic!

Anonymous said...

Not to get personal, but do you own a home? If not, then none of your money is going to support this.

Anonymous said...

Why not do what the state is doing -- take money for homeless shelters and to pay for apartments for the homeless -- or early money to prevent them from losing their homes. How much would it cost to pay for apts for 14 people for a year? What if all the towns did this?

It's a good point that it's nice, but beyond the call of duty, to provide a bed to people coming from other towns.

Anonymous said...

Why the assumption that anon 11:24 does not own his own home?

Anonymous said...

Why the assumption that anon 11:24 is a he?

Anonymous said...

I'll answer that, Yes I do and have for many years now.

Anonymous said...

The issue of home ownership is irrelevant.

Renters pay property taxes too -- indirectly through the rents that landlords charge.

Only public housing is exempt.

Anonymous said...

did anyone read the gazette article and think that the select board members commenting on greeney had taken a page out of the republican/fox tv playbook by repeating the same remarks about their deep concern, etc. -- all the while steps are being taken behind the scenes to remove power from her committee. it seemed orchestrated but maybe not. why not just talk about problems in the open and work them out?

Anonymous said...

The Northampton Police Department is very grateful for the Amherst homeless shelter. Officers have said that since Amherst has put so much money and time into helping the homeless their problems in the City have diminished significantly. The businesses owners in Hamp. appreciate Amherst for the economic growth they have had since the homeless have stopped harassing their customers. Way to go Amherst!

Anonymous said...

Most of the homeless guests of the shelter could not maintain an apartment even if given one for free. They have addiction and mental illness problems.

IF some of them could give up alcohol and/or drugs, they might be able to live in an apartment or group home.

My hope is that we do not find frozen people in the winter.

By the way, the Faith Baptist church is providing a lot and the rest of the money is from a CDBG grant. I'm not sure that any taxes fund the shelter.

Anonymous said...

The more things change, the more Hwei-Ling stays the same.

Once she starts talking and talking and talking, it seems like the right time to take everyone else in the room out for a round, and agree to come back when she allows the oxygen level to return to normal.

Anonymous said...

The Housing Partnership/Fair Housing Committee has
long demonstrated its inability to deal with this issue: that's why the Select Board rightly formed the Committee on Homelessness. Unfortunately, Ms. Greeney is now in a conflicted position, as both an public advocate for, and a private provider of, services to the homeless. She could defuse this situation by magnanimously resigning as chair of Committee on Homelessness. Others, like the thoughtful Mr. Noonan or the articulate Mr. Eddings, are certainly in a position to continue the advocacy, while Ms. Greeney would then be free to return to providing the homelessness services directly. In fact, it's too bad she didn't do that at least 6 months before the rebidding process, since winter is only 4 months away!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked for the police reports concerning their responses to the Amherst Shelter? I'm told there were quite a few trips to the Church during shelter hours and outside of the operating hours.

Anonymous said...

Kum by ya, My lord, Kum by ya!
Kum by ya, My lord, Kum by ya!

Everyone together now!

Amherst needs help, My lord, Kum by ya!

Amherst needs help, My lord, Kum by ya!

Anonymous said...

Ms. Brewer is showing her strength and her command of the details in this latest controversy. She is not intimidated.

ed said...

The businesses owners in Hamp. appreciate Amherst for the economic growth they have had since the homeless have stopped harassing their customers.

REALLY????

I seem to keep finding those schmucks over there.....

Anonymous said...

I'd like to belatedly remind people of Hwei-Ling's meddling in the running of the Survival Center when she was on the select board. If I remember correctly, she wrote letters alleging poor treatment of some clients at the Survival Center to some major donors. Please correct this information if it's wrong because I don't want to spread untruths.

I think that Hwei-ling has a long list of things she wants done, and little understanding that other people approach social service somewhat differently. If she wants it done differently, she should quit the committee and bid as a service provider, not keep chasing away other providers.

I'd imagine that working with this population is hard enough. Little Miss Perfect and Friends don't need to make it even harder.

Anonymous said...

The other issue of homelessness and the rest is the death of shame in this country.

I would be mortified to stand out there on South Maple with a cardboard sign begging for money. It would be the same thing as walking stark naked right down the yellow line of Route 9 at high noon -- there are certain things that one just does not do....

The issue is that we are tolerating this -- and we should not. We simply should not accept it -- lets start exercising OUR rights of free speech and showing a universal contempt for the schmucks who do this stuff.

Imagine if everyone got out of the vehicle and shouted "Get a f*****g job, you low-life looser scum!" at every one of these "homeless" folk. Can we say "B.F. Skinner"? And just a tad of negative reinforcement would reign in a lot of this...

Ed said...

One more thing -- why can't the Amherst police do what the UMass police are doing and simply start locking these people up?

Under 123 MGL 12 (the civil psych commitment law), police officers can do psych commitments themselves.

You can lock someone up under three criteria: threat to self (suicidal), threat to others, or inability to meet ones own basic needs.

The homeless clearly meet the third criteria of inability to meet their own basic needs and thus can be locked up. I argue that -- under the criteria UM uses -- they also meet the second criteria of 'threat to others.'

Now if Bill Newman wants to get the civil commitment statute thrown out, more power to him -- otherwise, lets just start locking these bums up for their own good (and ours)....

Anonymous said...

Ed: Have you no sense of shame? No sense of decency? No sense of compassion?

Just go away already. Your post at 9:01 am shows just what a schmuck YOU are. I used to just disagree with everything you said. Now I not only disagree with you, I also have no respect for you. Zero!! Nada!!! I am stunned that anyone would say what you said at 9:01. Just stunned.

Please, go away and stop spewing out so much hate. You are the one with the problem. Not the homeless folks you so obviously despise.

Ed said...

Ed: Have you no sense of shame? No sense of decency? No sense of compassion?

I believe in the equilibrium of the universe. It is either wrong for the UMass Police (and CCPH) to be doing something to somewhere between 75 and a couple hundred UMass students, or it isn't wrong, at which point the question becomes why aren't the Amherst Police "helping" the homeless the way that the UMPD "helps" UM students....

Beyond that, you anonymous schmuck, I really don't think you ever agreed with me, ever, on anything, and hence I don't really care about your vitriol.

But still --- if the UMPD can solve a problem a certain way, why can't/shouldn't the Amherst PD do so as well?????

And we all know that most of them have either substance-abuse or mental health issues -- well, lets get them help (and force them to accept it)....

After all, they are doing this to the UM kids....

Different Anon said...

Ed,

What happens to the people UMPD involuntarily commit? I assume (though this may be incorrect) that you go into a medical facility for a few days at most, and then what? Maybe UMPD can do it because there are next of kin to take them home, but I wouldn't count on it for the other homeless around here. The hospital would be a short layover until going back onto the street. Not a solution at all. (Not that I think there is a solution--some problems aren't soluble.)

Anonymous said...

Hwei Ling is an advocate for Hwei Ling,plain and simple. She likes to get her name and picture on the front page of whichever newspaper will have her. She really cares nothing about "Homeless" people. For the most part the people who stay at the shelter keep a very low profile. The people that you see in Hadley and elsewhere with the signs by and large are not homeless. Many homeless people do all that they can to avoid the "public eye" because of some of the downright hateful attitudes towards them that are sometimes expressed in blogs like this. Many of the homeless,at one time,had families,jobs,homes,cars,etc etc. Things happened to them,something in their minds snapped or some such circumstance and they found themselves at the very,very bottom of societies heap. They get scared of drunken college students who might commit violence against them. They are,for the time being in their life,almost powerless. Some,or many,of the women that stay there have been physically and sexually abused and raped. Sure,some of them are disheveled looking. Some of them suffer from severe illnesses such as schizophrenia. Many of them are just plain scared. Many of them do,however,get back on their feet eventually. Again,many of the people you see on the street asking for money are not homeless. That is a myth perpetrated by media outlets that do not know any better. In some parts of the United States, homeless individuals have been doused with lighter fluid and set ablaze or beaten to death for "entertainment". If anyone thinks that any human being deserves this they are truly,truly sick.