Thursday, January 16, 2014

Diane Teti, An Allentown Conscience

I've been a bit under the weather, as often happens to me this time of year, so I missed last night's meeting of Allentown City Council. Believe it or not, I wanted to be there. It's not because I have any respect for that rubber stamp, but the people who attend regularly are beginning to assert themselves.

Lou Hershman has always been a watchdog. Even at basketball games, where his grandson plays alongside mine, he keeps a close eye on the score. But now there are newer, and louder voices.

Diane Teti is one of these voices. She has become a rallying point for our homeless problem. Michael Molovinsky, who must have been at last night's meeting, has an excellent story

Diane introduced Council to Donald, one of many people for whom no one speaks.

From Diane Teti: "This is Donald in 2007 under the 8th Street bridge. One of the 20 people that we helped transition to housing. The City shut his camp and didn't give him any place to go. He was sleeping on the floor of Safe Haven when we met him. Now he rents his own room and is happy as a clam. He has a girlfriend and they are getting an apartment together in July."

Donald found his voice last night.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Conscience. I have spelling challenges, too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Heh heh. Will fix

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I hope something is done with this issue soon. According to reports we have a multitude of negative degree days coming... I just am unsure why we have to discuss and meet on something that is just an act of being humane ?

Alfonso Todd
www.alfonsotodd.com

Anonymous said...

This is grandstanding. The mayor's
wife has addressed this concern very thoroughly

Anonymous said...

Interesting - I didn't know we elected the Mayor's wife, nor have I seen her address anything at all.

I hope you're right Bernie - voices are desperately needed in Allentown.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:53, it's a bit ridiculous to call this grandstanding. This is the coldest time of year, and shelters were full. Had Teti done nothing, someone could have easily died of exposure.

As for the Mayor's wife, it is true that she has been involved. But that is no reason for others to sit on their hands.

Anonymous said...

Are Ms Tedi and the mayor's wife working together on this issue?

Bernie O'Hare said...

So far as I know, the Mayor's wife was involved in this before Ms Teti, but is not involved at this time.

mr hockey said...

the new hockey arena should work well as a shelter when it gets cold outside....

Anonymous said...

More could be done...if people wanted it.

Diane Teti said...

Thank you again Bernie! I've been attending various committees geared toward the homeless over the last couple of years. At some point, I was informed that Lisa Pawlowski had resigned from her Commission for personal reasons. The Co-chairs were she and the then current head of the Conference of Churches Christine Nelson. She has also since left her post. I don't know exactly how the Commission was formed but Lisa's "hat" was passed to Heidi Baer of the City. When Christine Nelson left and her "hat" was passed to Tom Walker, also from the Conference of Churches. These 2 individuals seem to make any decisions for the Commission as a whole, although we have subcommittees that meet and report back to the whole.

I've been very actively involved for the past several months on this committee of volunteers from various organizations and the community. We have no funding and to date, we have yet to quantify the number of homeless in Allentown on any given night. Within the last month in year 8 of the Commission, the existing shelters were asked to start providing their figures.

I had asked several months ago to have the shelters asked to submit their criteria for "housing" because I believe there is a false belief that the homeless are being taken care of. SOME of the homeless are. SOME of the shelters are at capacity and have extensive wait lists. Other shelters have various criteria that prohibit some homeless from being admitted.

In addition, it is the Commission to End CHRONIC Homelessness - which has strict definitions under HUD guidelines and which funding is administered by the Conference of Churches who does not provide emergency shelter as one of their missions.

No one is even touching upon the fact that Rooster from the Allentown School District works with 400-600 homeless CHILDREN annually.

This truly is about the need for education and awareness in Allentown hopefully leading to collaboration and cooperation, not finger pointing and blame. No one "owns" the homeless but we all should be concerned about their wellbeing and essential right to shelter.