Updated 11/21/2012 07:14 PM
Dutchess County emergency shelter drops time limits
Reversing a summer decision, Dutchess County's sole walk-in emergency shelter is dropping time limits and a nightly charge. YNN's John Wagner spoke with the nonprofit and has more on the reasons behind the move.
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POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Hudson River Housing's emergency shelter warned guests they would begin charging ten dollars a night after 60 days and limit them to 120 stays per year. It was intended to motivate permanent guests toward a real, permanent home.
"At the same time, how were you going to pay that $300 a month and save your money to find a place, you know, it's the worst of two evils," said Robert Joseph Walker, a former shelter guest.
After protests and what the nonprofit says was a misunderstanding of the policy's intent, they have switched out of the one size fits all system to one focused on achieving independence.
"They are going to follow the guidelines, accept our help, work with our case managers, with the goal of being offered transitional or permanent housing," said Ed Murphy, executive director for Hudson River Housing. "And as long as they work with us, we'll work with them."
Hudson River Housing says visitors get transportation, two meals, a hot shower and a good night’s sleep. The average stay here is less than 30 days, but there is a minority who have cycled in for close to a decade.
"The danger of having people believe that this is a permanent placement really clogs up the system," said Murphy. "We have very limited resources. We have a 60 bed shelter here."
"There's some people who've been here for many years that does get an income that could afford to get a room and they take away beds from those that really do need it," said Tina Cheeks, a former shelter guest. "It's making people lazy and they sit around for years and take their money and spend whatever they want to spend on it and still have a guaranteed bed."
Around 600 different guests spend a night each year, each matched with case managers offering the steps needed to avoid chronic homelessness.
"Have those people build their confidence," continued Murphy. "Connect them with services, hopefully connect them with employment."
And most importantly, a home.