Tag Archives: SMOC

Ronny parked in A.I. … Main South: Centro buys property

By Ron O’Clair

I was fortunate enough to interview Mr. Juan Gomez, the executive director of Centro, located at 11 Sycamore St. He informed me of the plans that the organization has been working on to deal with a cramped facility at the Sycamore Street location.

Centro. photos: Ron O’ Clair




Junction Shop at Beacon Street, located behind Centro

The property located at 14 and 16 Sycamore Street directly across from their building had come up for sale and the Centro organization bought it. They plan to tear down the front building and renovate the rear bungalow into extra office space to relieve the overcrowded conditions in their existing building.

The area where the front building now sits will be turned into a parking area to relieve the pressing need for space to park for the clients and staff of Centro.

There are plans in the works also to raise the capital needed to purchase the old PIP building at 695 – 701 Main Street which was previously the site of the only “wet” homeless shelter in Worcester. The shelter operations moved out of that facility on the 22nd of May in 2014 to a new, more modern but smaller facility at 25 Queen St., across from the old City Hospital Campus that is now a part of U. Mass.

According to Mr. Gomez, if Centro manages to acquire the PIP property, they have plans to place an International Multi-Cultural Performing Arts Center at the site, open to all ethnic groups from around the world that now live in Worcester.

I have to say bravo to this plan, as it is sure to complement the area, and any use of the old shelter site would be a welcome addition to the 700 block of my Main Street neighborhood, as well as keeping an eye on the property that now sits vacant and unused.

Any development in this area would be a welcome addition.

The property that I manage for the last 13 years has also changed hands, and the new owners are looking to upgrade the property and the grounds with a heavy infusion of investment capital which is what it sorely needs at this juncture in its life. We have already taken steps to evict all of the people who resided in the building under the previous owner who have been part of the problem, allowing street people inside to use the facilities reserved for paying tenants only.

That is what the proximity to the old PIP shelter has meant for this property since the time previous owner Julio E. Romero plunked down his life savings to buy it in 2003 from Mr. Paul M, Berger who had his “Berger Army & Navy Store” in the 709-711 Main Street Commercial spaces for many years. After having a string of bad tenants and those who were harder to evict than you can imagine, Senor Romero lost his investment and his property to a bank foreclosure as happens to many property owners here in Massachusetts where the law works against the people who are responsible and do not use drugs and for the ones who go from landlord to landlord stiffing all of them in order to stay without having to pay rent. Many use all the rent money to further their drug addictions.

I should know. I’ve been the live-in property manager of the rooming house for more than a decade.

If you liked the story, or you didn’t like it, please send your feed back to the author at: ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

A harsh winter = homeless emergency in Worcester

By Gordon T. Davis

There is a human rights emergency in Worcester.  Homeless people are suffering in the more than 600 hours of continuous temperatures below freezing. The Worcester City Council’s Committee on Public Health, chaired by Councillor Sarai Rivera, held hearings on the matter February 23.

The Triage Center for the homeless, located in the Piedmont neighborhood on Queen Street, has exceeded its capacity daily because of the extreme cold and snow.

The facility is licensed for 25 beds, but some nights more than 100 people spend the night there. This number is not representative of the number of people who need shelter, as many people do not meet the criteria of the Triage Center or choose to remain outdoors.  One person who attended the meeting, Paul, said that the staff of the Triage Center was sometimes confused about the requirements.

The number of people sheltering in the Triage Center has brought complaints from the Shepherd/King Street Neighborhood Association which was represented by former Worcester City Councillor Barbara Haller.  Haller and I have locked horns before on numerous issues, but in this case I think she is right despite her motives.  She said the Triage Center was never intended to shelter more than 100 people on a daily basis. Forty people were acceptable, albeit a number exceeding the Center’s license for 25 beds.  The old PIP Shelter had 37 residents when it closed its doors and was replaced by the Triage Center.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) runs the Triage Center on the campus of Community Healthlink, a part of UMass Hospital. The SMOC representative, Charles Gagnon, detailed the efforts it was making to reduce the “overflow” of people to the Triage Center. He said the goal was to develop a single point of entry for the people needing shelter; this is the vision developed by the Federal agency of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Through HUD, SMOC has 50 units of housing, 100 vouchers for housing and 15 housing slots.

SMOC said it was looking at a long-term solution of moving homeless people into housing.

Gagnon also said the harsh winter, the closure of the Long Island Center in Boston, and the periodic mercy patrols by the Worcester Police have a part to play in the overcrowding. Although he admitted he should have included the city administration/council and neighbors sooner in the discussion of the overcrowding, he felt, at the time, the extreme weather and demand on the Triage Center would subside.

Councillor Rivera said the system is broken. Mary Keefe, the district’s state representative,  said she was just learning of the issue.  Hopefully, Representative Keefe will come up with a strategy that the City of Worcester can take to the State.

Councillor Rivera is right in that the system is broken. There does not seem to be the political will to resolve the underlying causes that make people “homeless”:  an economic system in which we live from pay check to pay check, a devastated human services safety net, the health issues of the homelessness, and the prejudice against even the sight of the homeless and “panhandlers.”

Although not a surprise, it is a disappointment that more people, politicians and Worcester political candidates did not come to the hearing.

I suppose a human rights crisis does not matter, when the people in crisis cannot vote or contribute $$$ to a political campaign.

Re: the chaos at the PIP. You have to wonder …

By Rosalie Tirella

… about some developments. Last night, just as I slipped into my jammies and got ready to watch “The 400 Blows,” my fave film, for the tenth time, I got a call from a PIP client. Distraught over the living situation down there.

Now InCity Times has covered the PIP for over a decade, back when the lovely Buddy was its executive director. Even in the Buddy days, when PIP clients were actually loved, treated with much kindness … it was still a scary place.

These days things seem to have exploded, imploded, spun out of control at the PIP, so now we have a dirty, dumpy, violent hell hole. Or so alot of PIP clients claim, including the person who called me last night, a sweet heart, I may add. She picked up this issue of ICT and got my number off the masthead. A regular reader, God love her!

We talked about the old PIP regime. Do the clients miss George Orcut and his mom, life long PIP workers who along with Budddy, made
the PIP clients, Wusta’s truly downtrodden, a home, a special place?

I would say YES. However, something else is going on at the PIP. Clients, as battle weary/ready and tough as they come, are afraid to lay their heads on their PIP pillows to sleep it off, wait for the new day to dawn. New hope? New fix? That always depended on the client.

But the woman who called me last night said people were assaulted nightly. That the police were there nightly. That a 19-year-old girl was sleeping amidst a bunch of street guys.

There used to be male and female sleeping quarters when Buddy ran the PIP. Yes, folks, wasted on junk or booze, used to be sprawled out on the floor in the main area, but the old PIP workers tried to get them to one of the tables in the room, off to a corner, maybe talking with a PIP social or health worker.

All that should still be happening, no matter how put out SMOC, the Metro West agency that now runs the PIP, feels.

SMOC has run the PIP for a few years now, but it has agreed to close the PIP building at 701 Main Street and wait for new digs to be opened in the Piedmont neighborhood.

Well, furniture was gotten rid of, the place was set up to feed folks, assess the real hard luck/sick cases and move them out to local hospitals. Then the City of Worcester asked SMOC to stick with their old mission for a little while longer, since the new shelter in Piedmont was running behind schedule … And Worcester had no place set up for its drug abusing homeless population.

Personally, I think city officials were hoping for such a gap. So the people that no one wants to deal with/care for could fall into it … and disappear.

Important Meeting TONIGHT, re: SMOC Triage Center!

Important Meeting TONIGHT (Jan. 4) at 6:30 p.m!

District 4 Community Meeting at 50 Murray Ave.

Tonight’s meeting is a follow up to last month’s meeting with the City Manager, elected city councilors, and SMOC officials (who are running the Triage and Assessment Center at 701 Main St. – formerly the PIP).

Please attend if you can and be prepared to comment!

Neighborhood meeting tonight, re: the PIP! Please attend! Speak out!

By Rosalie Tirella

Hoping there are a ton of Main South and D-4 residents tonight, 6:30 p.m., at the Worcester Housing Authority building at 50 Murray Ave. for the neighborhood meeting, re: The PIP reopening.

The reincarnation of the PIP, unfortunately, is a done deal. Here’s hoping the meeting, called by D-4 Barbara Haller, draws lots of folks to voice their concerns. Maybe they can actually get City Hall and the WPD to show them some respect.

People, agitate for:

A police substation at the PIP would do a lot to disperse the nefarious types who prey on PIP clients. Also, please demand the planting of trees, sidewalk repair, etc.

If you don’t SPEAK OUT, no one will hear you!

Bravo, Barb and Joe!

By Rosalie Tirella

Tuesday (Nov. 29) night’s Worcester City Council meeting re: the SMOC Triage Center was a night of broken promises, a night of dumping on the poor and powerless, a night of forgeting about all the inner-city/Main South small biz folks and residents who have had to endure the people who PREY on a place like the PIP – scum who have made life a hell for everyone.

It’s not the SMOC clients; it’s the drug dealers, the users, the abusers – all the hangers-on who prey on/will prey on the clients of the PIP/Triage Center. How can District 4 ever get well? How can our inner-city neighborhoods recover – and begin to flourish?

Well, at least we can say this: Mayor Joe O’Brien and District 4 City Councilor Barbara Haller proved themselves to be class acts – people who stayed true to their word (they voted against the move back to the old PIP building – 701 Main St.)

It is heartbreaking that the end of Haller’s stellar – and I mean stellar – terms on the city council should end in a vote that broke her heart. She was right when she said Main South residents were not given the chance to voice their opinions. But – here’s the problem – unlike their middle class peers near the Anna Maria rest home (the proposed SMOC site that was shot down by almost 800 Apricot Street area residents), the folks of Main South are up to their eye balls in challenges – economic, social, etc.

Makes it hard to agitate for your rights, poverty does.

I grew up in D-4, very poor. My mom was a single mom with a minimum wage job. She worked 60 hours a week and tried to keep me and my two sisters safe, well fed and happy. She was always there at PTA nights at Lamartine Street School and Prov. Jr. High, but she could never take the time out to leave her HUGE RESPONSIBILITIES to engage in heated civic debates. I remember her conking out, quietly snoring, head back while sitting on the sofa, watching TV with us kids – at about 8 p.m. She was in bed at 9 p.m. – out like a light. She had to get up at 5:30 in the morning to begin our daily routine (school, lunches, her job at the dry cleaners, a.m. house work/breakfast) etc the next day.

My mom was too poor/overwhelmed to canvas neighborhoods, get ultra involved. Factor in my shit-head dad who came in and out and wreaked havoc on our little fmaily unit and the result: my mom was overwhelmed.

This is the story of a lot of families in Main South – a stone’s throw from the PIP.

Barbara Haller and Joe O’Brien know these stories/families and validate them – every day. They honored them Tuesday night by their votes.

Bravo, Joe and Barb!

Thank you!

Shit storm

By Rosalie Tirella

Re: SMOC Triage Center:

Worcester, we have a problem.

My heart goes out to Mayor Joe O’Brien, a decent, caring, person with a moral code who had to deal with a lynch mob last night at Sullivan Middle School. He was right to shut down the meeting after people went postal. All the cops stationed in the audience last night – a good thing. Angry, angry people who – when all is said and done – do NOT live next door to the proposed site for the SMOC Triage Center – the Anna Maria rest home – are on the cusp of doing something crazy. Violence may have exploded last night at Sullivan Middle School (a few days ago one resident told a woman he would set the Triage Center on fire) – errupted from all those lovely middle-income folks who believe their rose bushes and trees and cozy homes will be DESTROYED if the Triage Center is any where near their neighborhood.

These NIMBY-ites forget they are living in New England’s second largest CITY – not Holden, for Gawd’s sake! District 4’s Main South is in RECOVERY from decades of the PIP and all its challenges. I believe sending folks back to 701 Main St. will be a huge step back for a fragile inner-city neighborhood, where biz folks and residents lived/worked at only a FEW FEET from the PIP.

What do the NIMBY folks expect? For homelessness to disappear? For the agencies that help the poor/homeless to leave Worcester for some sunny Worcester suburb – with all their clients following close behind? Never. Most of these folks don’t even have $ for the bus, let alone own a car.

Where was Kevin Ksen, Cha Cha Connor and all the folks who routinely came out to defend the PIP clients? Most likely they feared for their lives … and Barbara Haller (their perceived nemesis) isn’t tied to this situation. So they won’t bitch.

Truth be told, District Councilor Bill Eddy is way out of his element. He has neither the brains, the heart nor the balls to deal with what’s been shoved onto his plate – a true, big city problem.

Mayor O’Brien actually has the chops for all this, but people don’t listen.

They don’t want to listen.

Councilor Bill Eddy, welcome to Barbara Haller’s world! OR: Let’s see what you’re made of, Eddy!

This in today’s T & G:

“South Middlesex Opportunity Council has put in writing that the triage center for homeless people will vacate the former Anna Maria Rest Home property no later than Nov. 15 next year.

“Officials of the Framingham-based social services non-profit made that promise at a meeting of more than 300 neighborhood residents last week, but some of them questioned SMOC’s credibility.

“City Manager Michael V. O’Brien added his own assurance to the neighbors of the property at 1398 Main St. that the triage center will be gone from the neighborhood by Nov. 15. In addition, SMOC signed a four-page Good Neighbor Agreement Nov. 22 that outlines the responsibilities of SMOC and of neighbors for maintaining the property and safety and good conduct around it.

“SMOC notes that the Good Neighbor Agreement represents the intentions of the parties but is not a legally binding document. It provides the telephone number of Jayde Campbell, the top SMOC official at the triage center, so that complaints can be conveyed to him.”

So … now Worcester City Councilor Bill Eddy has a headache on his hands. The mess is in HIS district! Eddy will now actually have to prove he’s got a brain – actually work for his $27,000 a year city councilor “stipend.”

Councilor Eddy, you think you have headaches?! D-4 Barbara Haller has had to deal with this for almost a decade! Almost a decade of PIP/SMOC/enraged residents/enraged social service advocates re: the PIP’s/SMOC’s Main South site.

Let’s see what you’re made of, Billy Boy!

New Triage Center Site Meeting tonight! Discussion during City Council meeting tomorrow night!


– Rosalie Tirella

The “Prostitution” meeting, the PIP, crack cocaine and so much more

By Ron O’Clair

I attended the “Prostitution” meeting held at the board room of the Community Development Corporation Headquarters located at 875 Main Street, which was quite well attended by community activists like me, and just plain old ordinary citizens who are fed up with the everyday bullshit that comes along with the associated crimes that prostitution helps support.

Since that time, returning to what I refer to as: “ground zero”, the property that I manage located right next door to the venerable P.I.P. Shelter, and armed with a new resolve not to let the insanity continue unabated, I had the good fortune to be renovating a vacancy that sits smack dab on top of the action outside the window, and due to my penchant to work unorthodox hours continuing throughout the night, I was able to see and hear what my tenants have to endure every single night without fail.

The tenant that we finally got shed of was involved in lots of the goings on outside the windows, and sad to say had contributed to my building being perceived as a place to go to use and abuse drugs. Even though I have a “No visitor policy” in effect to prevent just such a thing. I found several cut baggie corners and a whole lot of cut knots, that indicate that lots of crack cocaine was smoked in that room. The tenant always professed to be in recovery, and not doing that anymore, but the evidence tells the tale better than anything else. Not to mention the two used glass crack pipes that I found while cleaning out the room Continue reading The “Prostitution” meeting, the PIP, crack cocaine and so much more