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Bloomington tent residents face ‘eviction’ as restaurant prepares to open

Jamie stands shirtless on a vacant lot on the west side of Bloomington. He is wearing jeans that his brother gave him. Behind him are flattened tents, blankets and clothing sprawled out on an asphalt, concrete and weed floor as the sun dries out these essentials after recent torrential rains.

The Indescribable Lot is what Jamie and about half a dozen other people call home. It will soon house a Panda Express restaurant. Bloomington City Council has approved plans to build the restaurant at the location along West Market Street.

The property runs along a busy highway not far from the highway. It is surrounded by gas stations, restaurants and other shops. It is not a residential area at all, with the exception of this tent city.

Some McLean County social service providers say tent towns have been a problem in Bloomington for decades. Advocates say the plight of the tent dwellers points to a bigger problem that has not been addressed.

As state and federal governments lift moratoriums on evictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, these residents will soon face their own type of eviction.

Jamie is 33 years old. He does not give his last name. He has lived in a tent in this vacant lot for almost three years.

Jamie’s brother checks him regularly and gives him clothes and a place to shower.

“He came over here and (said) ‘Jamie get in the car’, where are we going, Disneyland? ‘ Jamie asked. “No, we are going home. You’re going to get cleaned up.

Jamie said he was staying at the Salvation Army’s Safe Harbor shelter in Bloomington. He said he went to work in Texas and had to come back to Bloomington to help his brother. He said the Salvation Army would not take him back. Jamie has other people looking after him.

Her cousin Chris has been living in the camp for a few weeks. “I came here and found my cousin and I’m not going to leave him alone here,” Chris said.

Chris said he was worried about his cousin’s safety. He said he sent Jamie to the hospital three times due to seizures. Chris said there were always people looking for trouble there. Jamie said he had been doing drywall since he was 14 and believed he had a chance to return to work.

“I have my old boss’s number and he told me that once I got together and got my meds and stuff, he said he would put me back to work,” he said. Jamie said.

Jamie said he was taking medication for the seizures and for his mental health. Now he says his old boss no longer works for himself. Jamie is not optimistic, he will call back.

Jamie said he made do with his father’s monthly Social Security check and all the money he could get by begging. Jamie said he already won $ 80 in 20 minutes.

Bob is basically in the same situation as Jamie. Bob is 58 years old. He stands next to Jamie, sporting a graying beard, a face mask under his chin, and a vintage Chicago Cubs t-shirt. Bob said he had been living in the tent camp for a few years. He has done flooring for a living but cannot access the ground floor of the job market.

“Give me a rug, I can put it up,” beamed Bob, but said he couldn’t find a job either. He said shelters would not take him because of his criminal record. He said he received monthly disability checks. He said he needed a place to clean up for a job interview.

Homeless Services

These services are available at Bloomington-Normal, including from a religious organization that feeds them. Bloomington’s Abundant Life Church delivers non-perishable food weekly to the homeless population of Bloomington-Normal. The church also maintains a pantry and clothing and serves hot lunches daily.

Pastor Roy Koonce said he’s worried about whether those living in Tent City will have a place to go.

“That’s a great question and I don’t have an answer for what they will do,” Koonce said. “I know that if they come here, we’ll do our best to help them.”

Koonce said the church had no shelter but would offer all possible help to anyone who came to its door. Koonce said the church has rules but will not permanently reject anyone.

“I’m 68 and for the first time in my life, I feel like I have my goal,” Koontz said. “I like to do what we do. I like helping people. I like the success rate.

“It breaks my heart when I see someone who can’t.”

Bloomington’s two homeless shelters, Safe Harbor and Home Sweet Home Ministries, have said they don’t reject anyone who needs a place to stay, unless their history or behavior suggests it is. a threat to staff or other residents. But both shelters have had limited capacity for much of the past year due to pandemic restrictions.

Roy Koonce of the Abundant Life Church has said he would like the city of Bloomington to do more to help its homeless residents. He said the police are generally trying to avoid the problem.

“A lot of wanderers and homeless people sleep in the parking lot because they all get some heat to keep the ground from freezing (in winter). The police, all they do is go through there and chase these guys away. They don’t stop them, ”Koonce said.

Police intervention

Koonce suggested that an arrest would help some homeless people begin a process to seek medical attention and other treatment.

Town of Bloomington

Greg Scott

Bloomington Acting Police Chief Greg Scott said officers can’t arrest anyone if homeless residents don’t commit a crime.

“What they’re doing there isn’t specifically illegal,” Scott explained. “The State of Illinois and even the Supreme Court of the United States have made decisions that have said it is their First Amendment right to do these things.”

Scott said homeowners must file a trespass report before police arrest anyone. In the case of the proposed restaurant, Scott said no one had filed a complaint. Scott said the homeless population needs social services, not police intervention.

“It really doesn’t help anything,” Scott said.

Accommodation possibilities

A Bloomington City Council member said he would agree that jail is not the solution for people with no roof over their heads. Jeff Crabill said the goal should be permanent housing. Crabill said he was not sure what the city could do to better facilitate this, other than calling attention to the problem and encouraging more landlords to rent to people through a rapid relocation program.

“They just don’t want to have someone in their apartment or their house who is homeless. There is a stigma to this. I think some owners want to avoid this if they can, ”Crabill said.

Jeff Craybill speaking into the microphone

Emilie Bollinger

Jeff Craybill

The PATH Crisis Center in Bloomington recently launched the relocation program. The association secured funding from the CARES Act to provide short-term housing for people during the pandemic to limit the risk of the spread of COVID-19.

Karen Zangerle recently retired as Executive Director of the nonprofit group. She said tent cities have been around in Bloomington for decades. Zangerle said that there is often a certain culture in these wanderer communities that can make relocation difficult.

“People who live in tent cities like it because they don’t have anyone to tell them what to do, they have no responsibility to follow,” Zangerle said. “It’s a bit like a big camping trip.

Zangerle said PATH has asked outreach workers to meet with tent dwellers and other homeless people to discuss their options for a permanent place to stay. She said some will welcome the aid and some will not.

“What ultimately happens is that a certain group of them will find a new place and they will leave,” Zangerle said, adding that a large part of the tent city’s population is moving to the south when the weather gets colder.

Where to go from here

Bob, a resident of Tent City, said he plans to move soon, regardless of the restaurant’s schedule. “When it’s cold we have to go somewhere,” he exclaimed, but added that he was not sure where he was planning to move.

Jamie said once the proposed restaurant moves in, it will likely end up across the street behind the McDonald’s where he lives.

“It’s the only other place we can go,” Jamie said.

Jamie and Bob both laugh at the feeling that they don’t want help.

“We’ve tried and tried and tried and tried and they avoided us,” Jamie said.

“We’ll get there one way or another,” Bob said.

Where and how they will do it remains an open question. These two tented city dwellers think they’ll have to rely on their experience and survival instinct when their home from the last few years is uprooted for a fast food franchise.

It is not known when Panda Express plans to take over the West Bloomington site to begin construction. The company did not return any messages seeking comment.


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Some residents oppose new plan to provide safe camping for homeless people in Los Angeles city parks – NBC Los Angeles

LA City Council is considering a plan that could separate parts of public parks for safe and secure camping sites for people who are homeless. And the news is not well received by locals.

Westchester Park and Mar Vista Park are two of the locations suggested in a feasibility study commissioned by LA City Councilor for District 11, Mike Bonin. Neighbors in Westchester point to picnic tables, ball fields and parking lots all cramped with tents that have grown exponentially during the COVID pandemic.

“No matter where they set up a safe campsite in Westchester Park, it’s going to affect us,” says Beth O’Rourke, director of youth sports for West Side rugby clubs. “We witnessed urinating in public, we saw excrement on the ground, around the field. The toilets are unusable for an adult and even less for a child.

The City of LA Parks and Recreation Department has been renovating the fields in recent weeks, but some residents say the tents lining the perimeter prove the priority is not on the kids using the park, but on the homeless people who abuse it.

“I don’t feel like they respect the fact that it belongs to everyone. Just for them, ”says Becca Prismantis, a Westchester resident who says she had to take her kids to nearby towns for their lacrosse teams.

Earlier this year, Bonin requested a feasibility study for an alternative to encampments and suggested part of Westchester Park and Mar Vista Park. NBC4 viewers shared photos showing campsites had invaded the softball fields.

“What we are proposing is to allow those who are here now to be in a certain section,” Bonin explained at a city council meeting in May. “Give them security, sanitation, services, install them in housing while restoring the rest of the park for general and public use. “

But some parents say the damage is done; teams have had to move to other parks, parents have had to leave their home neighborhoods to take their children to play – and all because they don’t feel safe in their own local park.

“I see things are taken care of, I see it’s just out of control,” says Prismantis.

But Stephanie Tatro says she has two young children whom she often brings to the park and feels very safe, even at night.

Tatro is a co-founder of the local Grass Roots Neighbors nonprofit and says she has gotten to know many of those who call Westchester Park home.

“I see a lot of uses happening in this park as well as the people who live here who are not housed and who are trying to take the next step in their lives and improve the circumstances,” Tatro says.

She believes the park is big enough for children and the homeless and denies any danger lurking nearby.

“I don’t see how the tents prevent access. Full access is available, ”she said.

But as the NBC4 I-Team first reported on May 20, crime is on the rise near parks and schools in Los Angeles where homeless settlements abound. NBC4 cameras caught brawls, weapons used to harass and threaten homeless people and angry parents over what they say is the city’s lack of interest in addressing the root causes of roaming.

Six days after the NBC4 report, Bonin lobbied city council to provide park space for homeless neighbors.

“I will gladly take all of these things off the table if people can come up with better solutions,” he told voters and colleagues at the May meeting.

Westchester parents say they have an idea.

“A different solution would be to send them or move them to a place that doesn’t take the kids away,” says O’Rourke. “It’s like homeless people are allowed to live here, but children are not allowed to play here.

The results of the feasibility study are expected in early August. Some residents argue that this will not be enough because the study does not take into account the community impact of such a plan, which they say would be a failure.


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LI’s retirement homes allow you to age in place and in style

When Sara and James Garretson began to think about their future, they thought of their own mother. Years earlier, both of their parents “kicked the box,” Sara said, postponing decisions about their retirement years until later in life so that it was ultimately up to the Garretsons to take these decisions for them.

“We have decided not to put our own child in this position,” she said.

Activities and peace of mind

Now both 79, the Garretsons decided four years ago to move out of their Manhattan and Orient residences and move to the same place their mothers lived, Peconic Landing in Greenport. Their cottage is on a bluff that overlooks the water, and the amenities offered there rival any luxury community. James, a retired architect, swims six days a week in the indoor pool, and Sara, a retired nonprofit executive, loves circuit training and yoga classes.

Like many other retirement communities, there are many programs to choose from, from art classes to educational science and history lectures. There are 145 acres of rural land, walking trails, half a mile of waterfront, and an Italian style mansion for special occasions.

“We have a sailboat and a marina within walking distance,” said James Garretson. “We did a great sail yesterday.”

They also have the peace of mind of knowing that in the event of the need for intensive health care, they will be able to get it on campus, with the cost included in what they have already paid.

Continuum of care

Peconic Landing is one of only three retirement communities on Long Island’s continuum of care. CCRCs, also known as Life Plan Communities, are designed to move their owners from independent living to all types of more specialized care – from assisted living to temporary rehabilitation to memory care and homes. nursing care, while remaining on the same grounds and ensuring a seamless transition. The cost of specialized health care is included in the initial price. The costs, which include the accommodation and care plan, range from $ 200,000 to almost $ 1 million.

On Long Island, 17.5% of Nassau residents are 65 and over. In Suffolk it is 16.5%. Over the past few years, many housing units for people aged 55 and over have sprung up, many of which also offer luxury amenities and social activities, meeting the need of older people who want to stay active for as long as they want. they can.

In Life Plan communities, however, the focus is on well-being across the lifespan. And unlike other senior-focused communities, they are promised a lifelong on-campus welcome and care plan, whatever their needs. The plans are specifically designed for future needs, and in most plans offered, the costs of the care plan do not increase with the need for more care. These lifelong care communities are operated as not-for-profit organizations and are tightly regulated by New York State. All have residents on committees who participate in on-site decision-making.

“The life plan communities are regulated by the Department of Health and the Department of Financial Services,” said Bob Caulfield, president and CEO of Jefferson’s Ferry in Setauket, another CPAB community. “It’s very different from any other real estate transaction.”

A generation of planners

People who buy into the concept and the community are planners, officials say. Communities see a lot of teachers and others with lifelong pensions, and financial transparency is very appealing to those who choose the plans.

For Angie Daly, 82, moving to Jefferson’s Ferry eight years ago from a 55+ community in Ridge was “the best decision we’ve ever made.”

In addition to amenities and “not having to shop”, the continuum of care became important when, about two years ago, her husband, Bill, 90, owner of an insurance agency at the retirement, had a seizure and had to move into a living that also offered rehabilitation, which the community included.

“I’m still living on my own, in my same unit, and I can go see him,” said Angie, a housewife. “We are in the same building.

She spends the day with him between appointments and often goes to his unit to watch television with him in the evenings.

“I would have had a nervous breakdown if I had to take care of him on my own,” Angie said.

She understands that she has no financial worries other than the monthly fees. All housekeeping, utilities, meals, fitness and social activities are included.

Since 1988, the Gurwin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack has offered nursing care, eventually adding assisted living facilities. He will soon be opening an independent life stage called Fountaingate Gardens on his land, making it Long Island’s fourth CCRC.

Fountaingate Gardens, which sells pre-build units, will have amenities such as an indoor saltwater pool, fitness center with personal trainers, clubhouse, pickleball courts, dining room and a coffee. According to experts, healthy eating and activities go a long way in helping residents live longer and better lives.

“We have a resident who moved in 20 years ago,” said Stuart Almer, President and CEO of Gurwin Healthcare System. This resident “was 80 years old then and is now 100. They can grow old here with us.”

“This generation is fiercely independent,” said Jennifer Kennedy, vice president of integration, who oversees the construction of Fountaingate Gardens. “They are planners. They want to know that they have a predictable expense for the rest of their life.”

Another CCRC community on Long Island, Amsterdam at Harborside in Port Washington, offers the same type of amenities as the other two. Last month, the retirement community filed for creditor protection for the second time in seven years. In a recent Newsday article, CEO James Davis said there would be no layoffs or cutbacks in services, and noted that financial problems were exacerbated by the pandemic. He is always open for business.

Caulfield, of Jefferson’s Ferry, said that these types of communities, which encourage socialization and physical health “greatly contribute to longevity.”

The Garretsons find this way of life and being able to age in place reassuring.

[It’s] “Knowing that in this transition you will not be separated, knowing that we will not place a burden on our only child,” said Sara Garretson. “Every family is different, but here there is a lot of support in managing these decisions.”

How it works

Prices for life plan communities may vary from location to location, but representatives are on staff to guide potential residents to the best purchasing plan for them.

Like buying a house in a typical community, these houses have different prices. The purchase price a resident pays for a home, typically ranging from a small one-bedroom to a large two-bedroom home, is refunded to the buyer or estate in the event of sale or death. The cost includes lifetime care.

The monthly fee covers all household expenses – housekeeping, maintenance, utilities, meals, fitness and social activities and more.

Prices are subject to change. Check each community’s website for details.

Jefferson Ferry, South Setauket With 248 apartments and cottages, 60 assisted nursing apartments and 60 skilled nursing beds, there is enough stock that residents never run into a waiting list, representatives said. New apartments, a pub and more dining options are in the works as part of an expansion. A one-time entry fee and a house contract are 90% refundable. Homes range from $ 228,000 to $ 800,000. The monthly fees are $ 3,600 to $ 5,000. jeffersferry.org

Amsterdam to Harborside, Port Washington The more than 300 residences are located on 10 acres of walking trails near the village of Roslyn and the harbor of Hempstead. Entrance fees based on house type start at $ 750,000, with 75% refundable. Monthly fees start at $ 3,200. theamsterdamatharborside.com

Peconic Landing, Greenport Entrance fees range from $ 300,000 for a one-bedroom unit to $ 990,000 for a cottage overlooking the Long Island Sound, with up to 90% refundable. Monthly fees start at $ 4,400 and go up to $ 7,800. A second person costs an additional $ 2,082 per month. peconiclanding.org

Gurwin Fountaingate Gardens, Commack With 17 amenities and plans, Long Island’s newest community Life Plan has entry buy-out costs of $ 330,000 for small apartments, up to $ 500,000. Another one-time fee of $ 68,000 pays for lifelong care. A second person pays an additional $ 930 per month. The monthly fee is approximately $ 3,200. gurwin.org


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Mother whose son was shot and killed offers help to families affected by gun violence

HAMPTON, Virginia – A mother who lost her son to gun violence has founded a non-profit organization to help other grieving parents after losing a child.

The support group is called MM2K, which stands for “Mommies Matter to Kyyri”.

Sevhn Doggette’s son Kyyri was 25 when he was shot and killed in August 2017. It happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Doggette now lives.

She tells News 3 that she is from Hampton Roads and comes here often, and when she heard about the recent violence involving young people, she felt compelled to publicize her organization.

Doggette says MM2K initially provides a listening ear to grieving moms and dads. She also said they have licensed therapists who volunteer their time.

“As for the different mechanics to help them go through, basically every day because it’s like a roller coaster ride for us,” Doggette explained.

As part of the support services, they sometimes even accompany parents to court in the face of the person (s) accused of having killed their child.

“Now you have to deal with this,” she added. “I’m also facing a life sentence and haven’t even committed a crime.”

Related: Norfolk Mother Who Lost Son To Gun Violence Hosts New Podcast to Help Grieving Families

Doggette says that while MM2K is active in Charlotte, she also hopes to host community events in Hampton Roads. She encourages families affected by gun violence to reach out.

More information about MM2K can be found here.

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Beloved Alabama Officer Surprised By Wheelchair Accessible Van

OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – The eastern Alabama community continues to rally around Mike “Robo” Roberson, a former Auburn and DARE police officer who served nearly three decades before catastrophic strokes didn’t force him to retire.

Soon, a $ 40,000 home improvement project with the Chattahoochee Fuller Center funded by your donations will provide a wheelchair-friendly bed and bathroom for Robo and his wife. Another blessing hit their Opelika driveway on Thursday.

“We’ve taken care of your house and needed some wheels for you, so here’s your new pickup truck,” Josh Datnoff, president of the Auburn Firefighters Association, shared the fantastic news to Robo and his family. Tears of joy and hugs followed the surprise announcement. The Gunners Motorcycle Club, Auburn Firefighters Association, Franklin Tire, CP Wrecker, Tiger Body and Paint have collaborated to donate a wheelchair accessible van.

“Very exciting because now he’s mobile he can go out and do the things he wants to do and live with ease,” said Jacquelyn Roberson.

Robo’s wife, Jacquelyn, is his dedicated caregiver. The couple can no longer sleep in the bedroom of their Opelika house because Robo cannot go upstairs. Instead, Robo sleeps in his wheelchair, Jacquelyn by his side on another chair in their living room on the first floor. Robo says it would be great to rest comfortably in a bed and take a shower, which he hasn’t been able to do for several months. It was difficult for them to travel as it was difficult to get Robo out of his wheelchair and get him into a vehicle. He needed a van with a ramp.

When Josh Datnoff of the Firefighters Association heard about Robo’s situation, he began raising money for the Fuller Center remodeling project of adding a bed and tub on the ground floor for the couple. . Datnoff then began looking for a way to help Robo and his wife travel more easily to see friends, family, and doctors as he continued his recovery.

“The van was my uncle’s van and he passed away. So we gave it to a close family friend, and she had it for about three years. She got better and didn’t need the ramp anymore, so they donated her to the Auburn Firefighters Association so we could get her ready for Robo, ”Datnoff said.

The Gunner’s Motorcycle Group helped secure repairs and maintenance to the pickup truck, in addition to raising money for the home improvement project. So on Thursday when the van was handed over to Robo and his family, it was hard to say who was happier – Robo or the friends who gave him the keys.

“When you see a grown man cry, it brings tears to your eyes. Especially since it’s a surprise. I’ve been wiping my eyes since I’ve been here, ”said Cody Post, owner of CP Wrecker Service.

On the back of the van, Gunners Motorcycle Club President Ruben Garza asked Robo if it would be okay to put three tribute stickers to late Auburn Police Officer Will Buechern on the back. Robo readily agreed. Buechner was a Gunner brother and loved his biker family. The Gunners are known for their generous hearts and ongoing community service. Garza says Buechner would have loved to see Robo, his former Auburn police brother, receive a van to help him.

“We should do this for anyone who needs help. But, so often, you can’t do it on your own, and we’re just happy to help in any situation. This is what we do as a club. That’s what gunners do, ”Garza said.

Meanwhile, Robo’s house renovation project will begin soon. The Chattahoochee Fuller Center Project will keep us updated on a volunteer schedule and opportunities. We hope everyone will join a community effort to help one of Auburn’s favorite officers who gave his life to serve the citizens and students within our schools. Volunteers receive a free t-shirt with Robo on the back.

The Fuller Center Project is a nonprofit group that builds and renovates homes for families in need. The group primarily serves in Chambers County, but in 2019 the group contacted families in Lee County devastated by the March 3 tornadoes and built 18 homes in 7 months for the survivors.

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Life Changes hosting a hygiene campaign

RENO, Nevada (KOLO) -Providing the necessities for those working towards a better future. Life Changes is looking for your donations to fuel its hygiene campaign.

The agency has grown to include 11 properties in Washoe County, helping reintegrate men and women, safe homes, sober and transitional lives and more. Many times after a person leaves the hospital, whether homeless or in prison, they often have very little to themselves.

This is where you come in. Toothbrushes, toilet paper, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, makeup and other daily necessities… your donations will be of great help!

“We get them back on their feet, we put them in school, that’s one of the positive things we try to do with each of them, and then they get a job and slowly start to re-integrate into society. and end up moving. on their side and to have their own apartment ”, explains Lisa Moore, she is the president of the association.

There are two drop-off points. Flirty Lash at 180 West Peckham Lane, Suite 1060 or at one of the Life Changes properties, 529 West Second Street, you will see a locked box to place items.

You can also donate money by donating to https://www.thelifechangecenter.org/donations/

Copyright 2021 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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Closure of Mary’s Kitchen, a sanctuary for the homeless, would be a “tragedy” for those who depend on it

For Derek King and many like him, Mary’s Kitchen is a sanctuary.

King, who has been homeless for almost a decade, found Mary’s Kitchen in Orange at a time when he had reached his limits. Malnourished physically and spiritually, he was ready to give up.

Mary’s Kitchen provided her with food, a shower and clothes. It helped restore something that many homeless people had to give up when they lived on the streets: dignity.

He found a new meaning in the relationships he established and the spirituality fostered by the leadership of the association.

“There are times when the fear of living for nothing strangles you,” King said in an interview this week with Mary’s Kitchen.

King’s story is not uncommon.

Charles Cousert hadn’t eaten in days before finding Mary’s Kitchen, where he was given food and clothing.

He said he would have died if it hadn’t been for the association.

“This place is literally a blessing,” Cousert said. “It’s a sanctuary.

Craig Lasky and America Sanchez are biking at Mary’s Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday July 13th.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

Homeless people who rely on Mary’s Kitchen said it was the only place they could find whatever they needed. Led by Gloria Suess, the association offers three meals, six days a week, to anyone who requests them. Showers and laundry facilities are also available, and the association receives mail for hundreds of customers.

After speaking with over half a dozen homeless people this week, it’s clear anyone can approach Suess with a problem they’re having and she’ll try to fix it.

During a visit to the association this week, Michael Lohse, accompanied by his dog Mildred, approached Suess and thanked her for helping him pay for the late registration of his car. Like other visitors to the site, Lohse, a victim of three strokes, has had a hard time. He said the nonprofit gave him $ 440 for the $ 1,300 he needed so he could drive again.

“Whatever you need, you’ll get it from Gloria,” said Patrick Hogan, volunteer at Mary’s Kitchen.

But after the city sent a letter of formal notice last month ending the association’s lease, the homeless people who rely on Mary’s Kitchen are now wondering what they will do if it is closed.

On June 18, the city sent Mary’s Kitchen a formal notice terminating its lease three years earlier. The city is giving the association until September 18 to vacate the property and they’ve asked Mary’s Kitchen to provide the city with a move plan within two weeks.

The letter from the city, signed by City Manager Rick Otto, indicates that the city has been a leader in Orange County in supporting the efforts of the homeless. However, Mary’s Kitchen is the only homeless service provider listed in the city’s housing component.

Marie’s kitchen has been operating in Orange since the mid-1980s, and at its current location at 517 W. Struck Ave., since 1994. Mary’s Kitchen is a humble, non-profit organization run by donations and volunteers, some of whom are themselves even homeless.

Natalie Wolf, center, and other volunteers prepare meals for the homeless at Mary's Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday, July 13.

Natalie Wolf, center, and other volunteers prepare meals for the homeless at Mary’s Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday, July 13.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

While Otto’s letter praises Mary’s Kitchen, it goes on to state that the association’s actions only serve to “enable roaming and can no longer be supported by the city.”

The letter says there has been an increase in crime and police calls from Mary’s Kitchen. The city says this has created an “unreasonable demand for municipal services.”

The letter also states that the city recently approved an affordable housing project nearby, which is “incompatible” with Mary’s Kitchen, which is located at the end of an industrial dead end. An Orange Police Department headquarters is across the street. There are no houses on the street.

Suess, the association’s president and CEO, said in a phone interview that Mary’s Kitchen had already complied with city requests to install security cameras and a security guard.

“Whatever they asked us to do, we did it,” Suess said.

Suess said the city does not want Mary’s Kitchen to serve people who are not from Orange, but that is inconsistent with the nonprofit’s mission to serve all who are hungry.

“We don’t judge who deserves food or not,” Suess said. “We take care of those who really need help.

“… I don’t think Orange understands, all these people who have considered Mary their home for all these years, where are they going to go?” Where do they get their mail from? Where are they going to shower? Where are they going to eat?

Mike Harrison, a volunteer at Mary's Kitchen in Orange, cooks meals for the homeless on Tuesday, July 13.

Mike Harrison, a volunteer at Mary’s Kitchen in Orange, cooks meals for the homeless on Tuesday, July 13.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

Mary’s Kitchen and some members of the community back off.

The association hired lawyer Brooke Weitzman, who sent a letter to the city on July 9 saying the city’s notice did not include a substantial reason for prematurely terminating a rental agreement. He asks the city to cancel his letter.

“The notice does not meet substantive and procedural standards for early termination of the agreement,” the letter said. “The only reference to the lease in the notice indicates that the City can terminate the agreement, but it does not specify any reason supported by the terms of the agreement.

“Despite the recognition of the critical support Mary’s has received over the years, the letter draws baseless conclusions that are simply not supported by the facts, in effect blaming Mary’s Kitchen for the city’s failure to resolve the crisis. housing, the health care needs of its poorest residents, and everything and all other issues in the public space outside of Mary’s Kitchen property. Certainly nothing in the lease places the onus on Mary’s Kitchen to address the City’s failures to meet the needs of low-income and homeless people.

Weitzman’s letter also calls on the city to determine the environmental impact of closing Mary’s Kitchen in order to comply with California’s Environmental Quality Act.

The letter says water and soil may be contaminated by the loss of hygiene facilities at Mary’s Kitchen and other public spaces could be affected as homeless people are forced to move.

“The immediate shutdown of a service provider leaving around 150-200 people a day without this safe place to sit, receive meals to eat and clothes to wear, access mail, access hygiene facilities, use a laundromat and more will inevitably have an impact on the environment, ”the letter said.

Weitzman also argues that the lease termination violates the city’s housing element, which requires the city to take into account the homeless, low-income people, the elderly and people with disabilities – all of whom frequent Mary’s Kitchen. Weitzman notes in the letter that Mary’s Kitchen is the only homeless service provider in the city listed in its housing element.

The letter notes that the city must “make adequate provision in its housing element for the existing and anticipated needs of all economic segments of its community, including its homeless population.”

Patrick Hogan has a glass of water at Mary's Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday July 13.

Patrick Hogan drinks a glass of water at Mary’s Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday July 13.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

Orange City spokesman Paul Sitkoff said in an email he could not comment on the closure of Mary’s Kitchen due to a possible ongoing litigation.

Weitzman said on the phone that she wondered who in town was leading the effort to shut down Mary’s Kitchen after decades of existence.

“There was no public meeting, so I know the letter is from the city manager, but who is it? Said Weitzman. “This sort of thing would normally be a decision of city council, especially given the long history of community service. It is not clear because there has been no public involvement.

Mary’s Kitchen is currently collecting signatures from supporters to show the city how crucial it is to the community. Suess said she wanted a few thousand signatures before sending them to the city.

The community also supports the association. Several members of the public showed up at a city council meeting on Tuesday night to criticize the city and express their support for Mary’s Kitchen.

“This city has lost its soul,” resident Heidi Zimmermann said at the meeting.

Pancho Sambrano shares lunch with her cat Ice Cream at Mary's Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday July 13th.

Pancho Sambrano shares lunch with her cat Ice Cream at Mary’s Kitchen in Orange on Tuesday July 13.

(Scott Smeltzer / Personal Photographer)

The city declined to provide crime statistics on Mary’s Kitchen, despite its allegations of increased crime in the area. The city called the association a “nuisance” in its letter, but there was no sign of it during a visit to Mary’s Kitchen this week.

Dozens of people had lunch and chatted among themselves. Some slept in the shade.

Everything fell silent as Suess recited a prayer through a megaphone. Many stood up and some took off their hats.

“Send blessings to Mary’s Kitchen,” Suess said.

“Amen,” they said.

For those who meet regularly at the shrine, losing Mary’s Kitchen is more than losing access to food and possessions. The camaraderie and support from Suess, volunteers and others gives them hope and meaning.

“I come here more for the community than the food, even though the food is pretty good,” said Starla Acosta, who has lived in her car for about five years, the same time she comes to Mary’s Kitchen.

Acosta met his close friend Ron at Mary’s Kitchen. She calls him her little brother.

Ron, who declined to give her last name, said Mary’s Kitchen helps all kinds of people. For many, it helps support them as they go through a difficult time in life.

Since Ron was injured at work two years ago, he’s been a regular visitor to Mary’s Kitchen. He has a job now, but he keeps coming to see his friends.

Ron said he couldn’t sleep the night he heard about the potential closure of Mary’s Kitchen.

“It would be a tragedy,” he said.

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Non profit living

New York’s plan to move homeless people out of hotels blocked by judge

The mayor’s claim that hotels should free up rooms for tourists is challenged by the industry itself.

“It is absolutely imperative for many hotels that this program continue,” said Vijay Dandapani, president of the New York Hotel Association last week. Even counting the homeless, occupancy rates are low, he said, and the lack of demand has driven down room prices in hotels open to the public.

But the hotels, many of which were concentrated in Manhattan neighborhoods in Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, have drawn community opposition since the start of the program. Neighbors complain that hotel residents use drugs, hang out, steal from shops and harass passers-by.

One hotel, the Lucerne on the Upper West Side, a few blocks from Central Park, has been the subject of a months-long political battle in a stronghold of liberalism after nearly 200 men, many struggling with addiction problems, were transferred there.

Some residents have welcomed the men. Many did not and strongly pressured the city, which tried to transfer them to a hotel in another affluent area of ​​the city center, to face a lawsuit there.

Last week, the men had been moved out of the hotel and back to shelters.

One of them, Mike Roberts, 36, offered a dispatch on Sunday from his new home in the East Village.

He sleeps in a room with seven or eight cabins that each house three or four men. If he reaches out from his bed, he can touch the next one.

Unlike his room at Lucerne, the one in the refuge has no air conditioning. Mr. Roberts often wakes up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat, and he cannot walk around because if he leaves the shelter between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. he loses his bed. Needless to say, his room does not have a private shower or TV.

“Here when I wake up I’m in a cabin,” he said. “It’ll be three people around me sleeping, one snoring, one probably getting high, or a guy pacing up and down. Who wants that? “

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Non profit living

Voto Latino fights Latinos’ reluctance to vaccinate against COVID

Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino, a nonprofit organization for the Latin American community, was confused when her own mother told her she would not be getting the COVID-19 vaccine. It took two months for Kumar to convince his mother, who works in the health sector and had been vaccinated, her and her children, all her life, to make an appointment. What had held her mother back were the videos she had watched imparting false accounts, especially one that showed a man pretending to be a pharmacist, warning in Spanish not to be vaccinated, Kumar recalls, “because it was a technology never introduced to humans before. “

The spread of misinformation and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine is common among a range of U.S. populations, including within the Latino community. In an April survey by Voto Latino, 40% of Latinos said they had received material saying the vaccine was not working. In order to urgently overcome this, especially as the Delta variant spreads, Voto Latino uses his behavioral learnings to fight far-right disinformation during elections to rally people to get shot, as he did so to register them to vote in 2020. For the organization, it is essential to maintain a large and influential electoral bloc healthy and confident in the government so that it continues to exercise its right to vote in the to come up.

Although the number is improving, the uptake of the vaccine by Latinos has been 1.2 times less than among whites in the majority of states. This is the case with other ethnic groups, such as blacks, with whom Latinos share some of the same barriers to access, such as frontline work that prevents employees from taking time off or lack of care. adequate health. Additionally, like the black community, Latinos have had their own dark experiences of being subjected to medical racism by the US government, including a history of forced sterilization of women in Los Angeles and Puerto Rico.

Misinformation around the COVID-19 vaccine compounds already existing fears. Some messages mistakenly claim that the vaccine is not scientifically reliable, and others that it causes infertility. More outlandish claims include that it contains a microchip or that it transforms you in zombie. Part of the reason these myths are so common among the Hispanic community is that Facebook doesn’t crack down on disinformation in Spanish to the same extent as it does in English. Once the information arrives on WhatsApp, it can then spread virally without any control. Of those who said they saw “harmful” information about the vaccine, 53% said it had been on Facebook and 43% on messaging apps.

The promoters of this disinformation are often individuals or groups who create digital content based on talking points from far-right cable news, radio shows or politicians, says Ameer Patel, vice president of programs. by Voto Latino. These bad actors can then receive donations from the followers, which not only fund the wide dissemination of lies, but can allow them to make a living from the practice. “One of the things we’re really seeing is there’s this great appetite to fund the flow of misinformation and disinformation,” he says. When a particular message resonates with a certain community, they tap more into that idea; for example, the myth of infertility has been particularly powerful among young Latinos, Patel says, perhaps because of popular family or religious beliefs.

With the CDC is already reporting that Latinos are 2 times more likely to be infected with the virus than whites, and 2.3 times more likely to die, Voto Latino has decided to help fight false narratives by implementing the Latino anti-disinformation laboratory with the Media Matters association. Although Voto Latino focuses on voting, Kumar says a healthy community that trusts government is essential for democracy, calling misinformation about vaccines “the most morbid form of voter suppression.” She adds, “If you don’t trust your government to take care of you and keep your family healthy with a vaccine, what’s the possibility that you can convince someone to vote?

The group is also in a privileged position to deliver its conclusions on the fight against far-right disinformation during the 2020 campaign. During this cycle, bad actors aimed to suppress the vote among certain blocs, and Voto Latino retaliated with strategies that ended up registering 426,964 voters, a record for the organization. They ran explanatory ads to educate people about the registration process, used peer-to-peer texting where volunteers sent personalized texts to people from local numbers, and encouraged people to contact likewise their friends and family. The idea was that receiving messages from people like them, whom they could relate to, would be more compelling than receiving impersonal, generic memos.

Now, the group is adopting similar behavioral techniques for the immunization campaign, with an ad campaign focusing on messages from people like them, rather than an unknown healthcare professional, for example. One of the two best-tested ads features a sixth-grade teacher expressing feelings of returning to school safe after being immunized, which Kumar says touches both educational and economic reasoning. The other features a woman who admits to being scared at first, “because it was new”, but who eventually received the photo and said it felt liberating. Importantly, both also point out that shooting is free, which a lot of people either don’t know or are told otherwise. Overall, the message is “optimistic but practical” and focuses on getting back to normal. As with his electoral strategy, Voto Latino does not laugh at any idea, however absurd it may be. “If you make fun of someone for their beliefs, they tend to turn around because they don’t mean they’re wrong,” Kumar says. “It’s the worst way to chat with someone.”

Voto Latino targets the 28% of people who said they were hesitant about the vaccine, rather than those “who are at the bottom of the rabbit hole” and more difficult to convince (again, a strategy similar to the election ). “We are entering the nooks and crannies of people’s internet,” Kumar says, referring to the targeting technique of showing their ads to people who have previously watched disinformation videos. They are currently running the ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

So far, they’ve been effective in calling for action: According to Google results, released last week, people who saw the ads were 54 times more likely to search for ‘get a covid vaccine’ than those who did not; and there was an overall spike in that search term of 7,171% in Florida, 5,856% in Texas, and 4,330% in California, the three states with the largest Latin American populations. And vaccination is increasing: As of July 4, 34% of people who had started their vaccination in the previous 14 days were Latin American, even though they represent only 17% of the population. Kumar says she believes the same methods could be used on other hesitant population groups, such as older whites and immigrant enclaves.

Success so far suggests that simply showing people care – to “give them love, attention and information in a non-judgmental way” – is a strategy. effective persuasion, both to promote vaccines and to maintain an active growing political voice in the long term. With her mother, what ultimately worked was the personal message of “Why wouldn’t someone want you to be healthy?” Why wouldn’t someone want you to see your grandchildren? “

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Non profit living

More Nursing Homes and Seniors’ Homes are Closing Their Doors Due to the Impact of COVID

The nursing home operated by Alaris Health on John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Guttenberg was old. Built long before there were concerns about isolating large numbers of residents to stop a virus that could spread like wildfire, it was small and could hold up to four people per room.

And now it’s closed.

The long-term coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 7,800 long-term care residents in New Jersey.

It also had a big impact on nursing homes.

Since March 2020, three state care facilities have closed, according to state data, highlighting not only changes COVID has brought to standards of care, experts say, but also growing financial instability in the state. nationwide industry. In each of the previous two years before the deadly virus hit, there has been only one nursing home closure in New Jersey, according to the state Department of Health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put increased financial pressure on nursing homes and assisted living providers who already operate on very low margins,” said James McCracken, President and CEO LeadingAge New Jersey, the statewide association of nonprofit elderly care organizations.

Nationally, industry officials predict long-term care providers could lose $ 94 billion in the pandemic and warn that more than 1,800 facilities could eventually close their doors.

The closures in New Jersey, meanwhile, also suggest that the financial pressures felt by long-term care facilities due to COVID may have made nonprofits such as those represented by LeadingAge particularly vulnerable.

Medicaid, a joint federal and state program that helps pay nursing home fees, serves as a safety net for people with limited incomes and resources. But the reimbursement rate in New Jersey remains far too low, critics lament. At the same time, not all for-profit nursing homes will accept Medicaid or may limit the services and beds provided to Medicaid patients, unlike nonprofit organizations.

“Faith-based and mission-oriented organizations are particularly affected because they traditionally care for those in need, regardless of their ability to pay,” McCracken said of the financial crisis caused by the pandemic.

One of the facilities that closed in the state this year – the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Emerson – was operated on a non-profit basis. The Villa at Florham Park, an assisted living facility and also a non-profit organization, is also closing. The establishment, which has already relocated all of its residents, has submitted a closure plan to the state, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health.

More recently, the St. Francis Residential Community in Denville, a non-profit independent living facility for seniors operated by The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, also said it was closing for financial reasons, although it was not have not linked their problems to COVID. The closure will displace 75 people who live there, including 10 nuns of another order, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. They did not respond to requests for comment.

The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, owners of the property since 1895, said in a statement that as the buildings and infrastructure on campus aged, “it has become increasingly difficult to fund maintenance and operations. renovations necessary to maintain the financial viability of the community. “

Although they have not yet filed a notice of intent regarding the closure with the Ministry of Community Affairs, which is authorizing the installation, they have withheld the Springpoint, a non-profit organization that operates 27 retirement homes, to help with the closure and find suitable housing for current residents.

A Springpoint spokeswoman said they had has created a limited number of leases at one of their facilities, The Oaks in Denville, which will be made available to residents of St. Francis and the sisters who live there, based on financial need.

St. Francis Residential Community, an independent living facility in Denville that houses 75 residents and plans to close.Google Street View

McCracken said a more robust reimbursement system is needed to support providers who care for the most vulnerable.

“Nonprofit providers are resident-focused and I am saddened when faith-based organizations close because they cannot afford to continue their ministries,” he said.

Her concern was echoed by Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, the New Jersey long-term care ombudsman, who questions whether faith-based institutions and other nonprofits are having a harder time weathering the effects of the health emergency. public COVID-19, including reduction of occupancy rates.

“At least one national study has shown that nonprofit long-term care facilities are more effective at controlling COVID-19 infections,” she said. “This may suggest that these facilities had better staff ratios and provided more nursing hours, a key indicator of quality in a long-term care facility and the most important tool to combat the spread of the infection.”

The loss of such organizations, said Facciarossa Brewer, “is bad news for people in need of nursing home care in New Jersey.”

Andrew Aronson, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, which represents long-term care facilities in the state, said the pandemic has caused an economic crisis on all long-term care providers, “regardless of the ownership structure”.

Nationally, a recent survey by the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, representing more than 14,000 nursing homes, assisted living communities and other long-term care facilities across the country , revealed that most homes in living communities are now operating at a loss.

This survey indicated that only a quarter of nursing homes and assisted living communities were confident they could last a year or more, citing increased expenses or lost income. There are also fewer inhabitants.

“Even though cases of COVID in long-term care are at historically low levels, providers are struggling to recover from the economic crisis the pandemic has brought about,” said Mark Parkinson, President and CEO from the Association. “Too many facilities operate on tight budgets simply because policy makers have not committed the appropriate resources, and this can have devastating consequences.”

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: Live map tracker | Newsletter | Home page

To ensure the stability of the long-term care industry, Aronson said lawmakers and officials must provide short-term economic support and address the chronic underfunding of Medicaid, which only covers about 70% of the cost of caring for a patient in a retirement home.

The problem, however, goes beyond Medicaid funding.

The isolation requirements of sick and infected residents in nursing homes that were never designed to contain a virus like COVID have demonstrated the inadequacies of many older facilities that may no longer be economically viable.

The Alaris Health nursing home in Guttenberg, which looked after nearly 100 residents, was a relatively small facility. Approved for 108 beds, it had an average of 91 residents during the pandemic. But the retirement home, built in the 1960s, also needed modernization. Many of its rooms were set up for up to three and four people, and officials said it was difficult to isolate patients with COVID-19.

Even before the pandemic, the nursing facility had ongoing work issues and union officials complained that their members were working with expired contracts, many of those who had been sick on the job with the coronavirus ended up over later responsible for thousands of medical bills. Its operators had also considered a plan to demolish the facility and replace it with a 15-story residential building overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, Alaris Health announced last year that it would close the nursing home and began moving residents to other facilities. According to the state’s health department, it closed in January.

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Ted Sherman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @TedShermanSL.

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