Call for Action: Close the PIP now!

Date: Monday, October 4
Time: 11:00 am
Place: Sidewalk in front of 701 Main Street, Worcester

District 4 City Councilor Barbara G. Haller and Chairman of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety William T. Breault are holding a press conference to call attention to the unacceptable delay in closing the People in Peril (PIP) Shelter at 701 Main Street. Neighbors of the shelter are expected to attend and add their voices to a call to end the delay and close the PIP.

In 2007, the City Manager’s Task Force on Homelessness released its Three Year Plan to End Homelessness in Worcester, under the co-chairmanship of former Mayor Jordan Levy and former City Manager Jeff Mulford. The task force crafted a consensus strategy of homelessness prevention and rapid re-housing with wraparound services. The City Council’s unanimous support resulted in City Manager Michael O’Brien’s setting an administrative goal to close the PIP in 2009.

Now one year after the PIP was to close, much has been done, but the PIP remains open. 701 Main Street continues to be a magnet for self-destructive and neighborhood-destructive behaviors – drug trafficking and addictions, prostitution, uncontrolled mental illness, violence, fencing stolen goods, litter, and fear of personal safety.

Vital funding has been provided by federal and state government and social service agencies to support the Network’s efforts. The network pieces are all in place to flip the switch and complete the move to the new paradigm of ending and preventing homelessness.

City Councilor Barbara Haller, who represents the area in and around the PIP states, “I am hearing that some of the network partners are getting cold feet – not about the model, but about turf. I am hearing that all the work that has been accomplished to date is at risk because of pushback on the absolute requirement to end the silos of service providers. I call on all who have influence on the network to use that influence now to get us over the finish line, literally and figuratively.”

William Breault of the Main South Alliance for Public Safety and a long time critic of the PIP continues, “As a member of every task force and a present member of the Leadership Council I know that the time is at hand to close the PIP. If we fail now, we fail for a long time. If the Manager can’t get this done, then he should tell us that 701 Main Street is the best this region can do for homeless individuals. I say, ‘Shame, shame, shame to all to promised leadership for a new way of thinking and acting.’”

Councilor Haller comments, “Every day since June of this year I have been expecting to hear of the date for the PIP to close. I have been working with the Manager to identify resources to begin the neighborhood recovery effort. To now hear that silos of power and funding are threatening our success is disheartening. I urge all involved to reconsider their positions and get to the table and work this out. The Council has made this a priority, the community is expecting it, and those who are experiencing homelessness or near-homelessness need it.”

Councilor Haller has requested the City Manager to provide Council with a full report on the status of the Network with specific attention to all obstacles to closing the PIP. That report is expected for the October 12 city council meeting.

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