Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Maranatha Is Offering the County

On Wednesday, Maranatha Human Services made a presentation at a special meeting of the Columbia County Human Services Committee. Nathan Mayberg covers some of the highlights and outcomes of the meeting in today's Register-Star: "Shelter plan postposed; proposals sought."

What was not clear until last night is that, although Maranatha has been shopping for property in Columbia County, they do not yet have a contract with the County to provide for the local homeless population, which at the moment numbers 56 individuals (of whom 4 or 5 are sex offenders, who would not be served by the program) and 9 families. Maranatha approached Paul Mossman, Commissioner for Social Services, in the fall of 2009, offering to assist with the homeless "challenges" in Columbia County, and since an initial meeting in January 2010, they have spent "countless numbers of staff hours working with DSS."

Although at the present they have no specific locations in mind, Maranatha is proposing a "three tier" program--with both the first and the last of the three tiers requiring a "permanent facility." Tier 1 involves an emergency transitional facility, which will provide "wraparound" 24-hour services; Tier 2 involves putting people into existing apartments in the community on a temporary basis, with continuing case management; Tier 3 involves independent housing in a permanent low-income facility. 

Interestingly, Al Coley, president and CEO of Maranatha, said he'd met with former mayor Richard Scalera at some point and "got his permission to move forward" on 834 Warren Street. Scalera, who is now Fifth Ward supervisor, was at the meeting and took the opportunity, after the Maranatha presentation, to explain that he had merely told Coley that 834 Warren Street was in the part of the city zoned for group homes.

As Mayberg reported, the committee decided to have Maranatha present a formal proposal and to solicit proposals from other agencies as well. Catholic Charities was mentioned, as was Peter Young Housing, Industries & Treatment. Since, in yesterday's discussion on WGXC, Tom Swope stated that the Galvan Initiatives Foundation is committed to helping Hudson and Columbia County solve their homeless problem, perhaps Galvan Initiatives, or possibly Eric Galloway's other not-for-profit, the Lantern Organization, will be submitting a proposal.                 


  1. Carole,I posted this before,but was late & was buried.I appreciate if you will let me post this again

    From Register Star Dec31,2011 "...Tom Swope and outgoing Mayor Rick Scalera have been appointed by developers T. Eric Galloway and Henry van Ameringen to key posts in their new nonprofit organization, the GalVan Initiatives Foundation"...Scalera, who is stepping down from his long tenure as mayor and will become the new 5th ward supervisor next week, is looking forward to working for Galvan.
    He said he expects it to be “exciting and very rewarding to go around to nonprofits and charitable organizations struggling to stay in existence, and to be able to help them through the process of receiving some of this funding.” ...
    He said his hours would be limited, since he also will have his duties as supervisor to tend to. If a vote involving GalVan should come before the Board of Supervisors, Scalea said he would recuse himself. .......
    Article featuring T.Eric Galloway and his Lantern Organization
    Monday, August 22, 2011
    In the 1950s and 1960s, the practice of "blockbusting" became commonplace. Speculators depressed housing prices by scaring away white middle-class residents. Then they resold the properties to black homebuyers at artificially inflated prices, often resulting in default and further devaluation.
    Today the practice of blockbusting continues, except now it's largely minority renters that the investors want out. The new buyers are us, the taxpayers, underwriting the supportive housing industry.
    Government agencies pay supportive-housing profiteers far above market rate for buildings they convert from normal rentals to taxpayer-subsidized housing for the mentally ill. For each "special-needs" tenant their facilities house, investors can collect more than $3,000 a month. Protected by rent stabilization, existing residents, who might only pay $500 a month for the same unit, often stand in the way of maximum profits. So investors use the threat of the incoming population to scare them off.
    In the case of St. Louis Hall, a six-story residence on W. 94th St., supportive-housing developers known as Lantern Organization and its for-profit wing, the Lantern Management Group, have a blockbuster at their disposal called "NY/NY III." In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg and then-Gov. George Pataki started this initiative to house the city's most high-risk group of homeless single adults, with problems ranging from persistent mental illness and chemical addiction to HIV/AIDS. While pursuing a noble goal, the champions of NY/NY III failed to anticipate how supportive-housing speculators would use NY/NY III as a weapon to intimidate existing residents.
    "To scare the Hispanic tenants, they had someone yelling immigration. They distributed flyers saying they are bringing in a population with AIDS, " says Aaron Biller, president of Neighborhood in the Nineties, of Lantern. Biller's organization, which sees a disproportionate number of supportive housing facilities on the upper West Side, litigated against Lantern's plans for St. Louis Hall since first proposed five years ago. Earlier this year, the group successfully opposed the conversion of the Alexander, a neighboring building, into a homeless shelter.
    "They are putting them here because Gale Brewer and company think it's okay," Biller says of his City Council representatives. "It's classism and racism on the part of high-minded individuals. The community is set up for failure with a devastating population. And nothing clears a building faster. They are driving people out and have a huge economic incentive to do it." That's bad news for longtime residents. It's not good for the troubled populations that come in, either, as they require greater supervision than these facilities provide.
    (Page 1 of 2) post

  2. CONT... But the practice is rewarding to the developers. In 2008, CBS News conducted an investigation into Lantern that the organization "took millions of dollars from the city to provide clean, safe and affordable housing for the mentally ill, recovering drug addicts and others in need," but put them "in deplorable conditions." At the St. Louis, CBS reported "deteriorating conditions under Lantern's ownership," including longtime residents who were now sharing rooms "with rats, mice, roaches, bedbugs and ...dangerously toxic black mold." When the station tracked down Lantern's president, Eric Galloway, at his 6,000-square-foot mansion in upstate Hudson, he refused to comment.
    How these developers reap their profits has much to do with the close relationship between the supportive housing industry and the government agencies that fund them. Before joining Lantern as executive director, Jessica Katz worked at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. At HPD, according to Lantern's website, Katz was "responsible for an annual Supportive Housing pipeline worth over $100 million." More than $15 million of that went to Lantern as an interest-free loan.
    But the residents of the St. Louis are digging in. "The Lantern Group feels that they can bully and intimidate someone until they can leave," says Robert Atkins, a musician who has lived at the St. Louis for five years and now fights to keep his home. "If this were a building with a predominantly white population, they wouldn't try to get away with this.
    "You want to know how shady these people are? I refused to move. So all of a sudden there is a massive flood. They caused a flood in my room of feces and urine, which destroyed my guitars. It smelled atrocious, so I couldn't stay here."
    Still, Atkins keeps fighting. "This whole affordable housing thing is a hoax. It's not affordable to the taxpayer. It's not affordable to the poor. The only people who are making out on it are doing so at the taxpayers' expense. The neighbors lose and the neighborhood loses."
    Panero, the managing editor of The New Criterion, is at work on a longer article about the upper West Side for City Journal.
    Read more:
    Read more:

  3. It appears that a number of nonprofits are seeking to resolve homelessness in Columbia County. The 3 tier proposal suggested by Maranatha is a typical approach to homelessness but one that is also considered outdated by many advocates and providers throughout the country who have shown that this approach institutionalizes homelessness and creates bloated nonprofits who will never reach their mission of ending homelessness. Studies prove it. In point of fact, national studies have shown that scattered site housing with off site case management goes a long way towards reducing homelessness for singles and families. It is the single mentally ill substance abuser who ranks among the chronically homeless and who churns through the system. This is often due to the lack of solid case management from street level on up aimed at engaging them in treatment and permanent housing. There is nothing to prove that the 3 Tier system proposed by Maranatha is going to do anything to lessen the problem. Who are the 56 single homeless and 9 families who are homeless? My bet is that the families are homeless due to domestic violence or an emergency such as losing their housing because they can't pay the rent in this lousy economy. Singles are another issue and could present a mix of profiles but that is not clear from the Register piece. I hope the City of Hudson/NYS are very careful about their approach to homelessness in Columbia County. There are excellent forward thinking models throughout the country in towns the size of Hudson with similar demographics. In reading the post by Prison Alley I know for a fact that most nonprofit supportive housing providers in NYC are not as avaricious as Lantern is described in that article. I do know that a number of large nonprofits providing supportive housing for the poor in NYC have executives making obscenely high salaries with major perks but I have not known them to be slum lords. In fact, some of the housing is beautifully designed and well managed.

    1. Ms.Stone,
      I mean this sincerely.It would be very helpful if you could site the nonprofit supportive housing providers that have been successful as models to look at,especially the ones throughout the
      country in towns the size of Hudson with similar demographics.Hudson is at a very precarious moment in time on this.Hudson as the county seat,has all the Social Services here,and is going to set the standard in Columbia County , for good or bad.Hudson as a City is also emerging as a potentially great model of a small city for the private sector.But it is still in it's infancy and vulnerable.There are many hard working private business people and home owners that have made it this way, so far slowly over time by taking financial risks,sheer will,enthusiasm,sense of community and sweat equity.People from many walks of life.Hudson is only 3 sq. miles.The tax burden ,now as we speak has already taken its toll on some of these people's dreams.Of course there are exceptions,but there are inequities and a cloak of dishonesty here that is generational and near impossible to change head on.People have tried and failed.There are books written about it.This is why the arrival of Lantern Group in its new incarnation as Galvan,is so disturbing,as they will fit right in with aforementioned systemic problem and compared with NYC, Hudson is much easier than fish in a barrel.In
      such a small city ,the placement of this housing needs to be carefully considered.Further'Ghettoizing'or stigmatizing one ward or area is not a solution,but is what's most likely to happen as it has already happened to such a great extent,from Urban Renewal of the 1970's.This is why there
      is concern about Galvan Initiatives , which is Lantern Group,having bought up so much housing stock in this City over the last few years.Much of which has been warehoused.The article above
      is about them.Being old hands at this supportive housing game,having played with the big dogs in NYC,their vagueness is alarming as is that GalVan has ex Mayor Scalera of Hudson
      of 8 terms who is currently Board of Supervisor ,for the 5th ward of Hudson,on the GalVan board of directors,in the same way they tapped as "executive director, Jessica Katz who worked at New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development. At HPD, according to Lantern's website, Katz was "responsible for an annual Supportive Housing pipeline worth
      over $100 million."More than $15 million of that went to Lantern as an interest-free loan."
      Scalera is very involved with the DSS and where they and the homeless will be located. The 5th Ward, where he also lives,as does the the current Mayor and a good portion of long term City
      Officials,I predict ,will not be areas affected by this problem,nor will the area surrounding the courthouse,where Mr Galloway of Lantern & Galvan resides in his mansion.There is no one,rich or poor who is going to want institutionalized housing as their new neighbor.So the options for the locations of these homes becomes smaller and more predictable.

    2. NYC can take its Armouries and
      fill them to the brim with homeless and foster children that have aged out,and the average New Yorker will go about their business.People too afraid of the shelters would rather live in boxes
      on a sidewalk grate or sleep in the subways and the average New Yorker will step over or around.In the Homeless heyday in the late 1980's early 90's,towns across America were paying
      their indigent problems away with a bus ticket to NYC.There were billions of dollars being pumped into NYC by the FED for the homeless,AIDS,Orphans , indigent mentally ill and chemically dependent
      NYC,itself was strapped then,so very little of that money made it to the
      intended recipients.What did happen was organizations like Lantern Group, sprang
      up,Working class neighborhoods were destroyed ,by the greed of landlords for SEC 8 housing and group homes.
      HRA management ballooned. The other city agencies used HRA(DSS) as an
      ATM,including the MAYOR,Koch and then Dinkins.A lot of people became very rich and there were more poor and problems than ever.
      Hudson can't take that.People will migrate here for services if this is not handled carefully.
      You seem quite knowledgeable about how small towns that have handled this successfully.
      It would be a great service to know more about them.Thank you.

  4. National best practice models start with prevention. I don't know if Hudson/Columbia County has a homeless prevention program in place but if not that is where they should begin -- not, in my opinion, with a medically managed shelter, transitional housing and then a house full of units of the formerly homeless. There are excellent homeless prevention models all over rural New York and the rest of the country. If there are homeless prevention programs in place in Columbia County and they aren't working then they need to rethink their goals before they start funding outdated program models because something else is not working. Second -- housing first (preferably scattered site) followed by off site tx at an existing provider, not a new one. Rural providers are quite successful at the prevention/housing first model. The Maranatha approach as des-cribed in the Register story or anything like it from another nonprofit provider should be not be considered in my opinion. If citizens are armed with information about whom the homeless are in their area and what programs work throughout the country and in their own County they can strongly advocate for best practice approaches and not be accused of NIMBYISM because they don't want an apt. next door to them full of formerly homeless people. It sounds to me that the potential providers of homeless tx/housing in Columbia County come with many well connected people in their back pockets but with no good ideas. Good luck!