Saturday, November 26

Plans To Expand Brooklyn's Homeless Facility for Men Bring Up Other Issues

Plans to turn the Bedford Armory building located in Brooklyn’s Northern Crown Heights Neighborhood into the city’s largest intake assessment facility for homeless men have been in circulation since April of 2008 and have since been steadily opposed by neighborhood coalitions. The argument against the intake facility has brought up two majors issues at the intersection of government and community: one is how the city deals effectively with its homeless population and the other is how and where the city places its social service facilities. 
According to the Coalition for the Homeless the majority (60%) of homeless men are located in Manhattan. Over the past two years under the Bloomberg administration two major changes have disrupted the way New York City has handled homelessness since the 1970’s: one is the plan to relocate the central intake center from Manhattan to Brooklyn (Crown Heights) the other was a cut to shelters, both faith based and drop-in centers throughout the five boroughs. 
Currently there are only six city funded drop-in centers in New York City (compared to the 11 that existed before the Bloomberg administration). Three of the existing centers are in Manhattan, and of the six only three centers are 24-hour facilities (two in Manhattan and one in the Bronx).
  Crow Hill Association is a non-profit community organization in Northern Crown Heights that has been organizing rallies, petitions and conversations with government officials in opposition to the plans for an intake at the armory since 2008; one of their largest complaints is that Crown Heights already has a large concentration of social service facilities and is a neighborhood with higher levels of poverty and crime than other parts of the city.
“North Crown Heights already has six times the median number of social service beds in Brooklyn,” said a representative from the Crown Heights Revitalization Movement at a meeting the group hosted in 2009.
Most city owned land is located in the poorest parts of the city; as a result the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods have the highest density of social service facilities (think homeless shelters, methadone clinics and psychiatric centers). To even the distribution of such facilities in 1989 the “Fair Share Act” (197A) was created. According to the New York Department of Planning,  under section 203 of the Fair Share Act the City Charter required the City Planning Commission “to adopt new criteria to further the fair distribution of the burdens and benefits associated with city facilities” . 
In her book Noxious New York: the racial politics of urban health and environmental Justice Julia Size says that the major problem with the Fair Share act is a lack of knowledge on requirements, policies and planning resources at the community board level and a lack of guidance and direction at the City Planning level. 
Plans to repurpose the existing shelter at the Bedford Armory to an intake assessment facility still exist but have been stalled by the efforts of The Crow Hill Association and the Crown Heights Revitalization Movement as the city responds to their rejections and does a review of the Fair Share act.
 Meanwhile, the Coalition for Homelessness estimates that New York city has reached the highest level of homelessness since the Great Depression with an estimated 113,553 homeless sleeping in city supported shelters including an all time record of 42,888 children.

Sunday, November 20

11/21 Links

Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street Raided
by the Mother Jones news team
Occupy Wall Street: How Should It be Covered Now? and Who is Occupy Wall Street?
by Arthur S. Brisbane for the New York Times

Op Eds on Sandusky
Let's All Feel Superior
by David Brooks for the New York Times
The Devil and Joe Paterno
by Ross Douthat for the New York Times

Thinking Outside the Box
by Lisa Margonelli for the New York Times
Generation Sell
by William Deresiewicz for the New York Times

Leadership Issues
The Force Isn't With Him
Chris Smith for New York Mag
On the Ropes with Herman Cain
by T.A. Frank for The New York Times Magazine

Food Related
The First Served
by Adam Gopnik for The New Yorker
by John Seabrook for The New Yorker

Fitz and the Tantums Perform An Unplugged Set at Occupy Wall Street

Two days after the legendary David Crosby and Graham Nash sang "Teach Your Children", neo-soul group Fitz and the Tantrums joined the growing list of musicians who have performed at Zuccotti Park in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The band performed an unplugged, two-song set whose lyrics and overall message would strike a chord any protestor. Prior to the performance, Frontman Michael "Fitz" Fitzpatrick announced, “We wanted to show our support to the Occupy Wall Street protestors everywhere who are keeping the focus on the culture of greed that is pervasive in our financial institutions and the lack of reform and accountability that has taken place." Based out of Los Angeles, the band who Rolling Stone Magazine haled as a "Band to Watch" back in April, has spent the last year rising up the charts and taking the music festival scene by storm, with soulful old-fashioned melodies and vivacious live performances.

An early morning gig, the 6-piece group's lively performance incited Zuccotti's sleeping protestors to rise n' shine from their tents, the crowd growing with each verse sung. Their most popular record "Moneygrabber" served as a natural opening number. While the song was initially written about a no-good greedy, lying and cheating significant other, there is definitely a comparison to be had to Wall Street's capitalists. The song's chorus reads " Don't comeback anytime, I've already had your kind. This is your payback, money grabber", which could easily allude to protestors frustrations with the Wall Street set and their efforts to combat corporate greed through protest. Fitzpatrick and his fellow lead singer Noelle Scaggs belted out the feel-good tune in accompaniment with the saxophone, tambourine, drums, and clapping from the crowd. The climax of the performance was without question the breakdown towards the song's end. "One is for the money, two is for the greed" they sing out set to a cadence of soul-claps. "And three times that I told you you're the one I just don't need."

Fitz and the Tantrums perform unplugged at Occupy Wall Street's Zuccotti Park
Fitz and the Tantrums' second and closing number, entitled "Dear Mr. President" (not to be confused with the Pink song of the same name) served as another feasible anthem for those rallying. In open-ended lyrics addressing the President, Fitz and the gang sing the chorus" Hey, put your foot down and take a look round. Don't like what you see. No No No No No No." Everyone broke out in cheer during the song's last verse which melodically pleaded "Dear Mr. President there is trouble in the streets. Now is the time and test we must meet." The lyrics ended on "Dear Mr. President, take a look around. Please Mr. President." The amalgamation of protestors, media, and fans of the band erupted into cheers at the end of the set and one guy shouted out "You guys are the Fine Young Cannibals of Occupy Wall Street!"

Helping to give Occupy Wall Street a louder voice, bands like Fitz and the Tantrums echo the sentiments of the Occupy Wall Protestors on a larger stage. "We are not anti-capitalist but we are not in support of an untethered Wall Street without regulations [....]" Fitz pre-show announcement additionally stated. "We Need Reform Now.”