After being rebuffed by Saratoga County’s Department of Social Services in their search for safe housing for the homeless, Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) got help from Saratoga Springs Mayor Kelly to secure a place.
There are excellent stories on this by Wendy Liberatore in the Times Union, by staff at the Saratogian, and by Steve Williams in the Gazette.
Karen Gregory, the Executive Director of SOS, repeatedly requested assistance in finding temporary housing for the homeless from the County DSS only to be rebuffed.
“I made several requests to Saratoga County to move our shelters into a local hotel before someone was symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19. I was told over and over again that would not be possible until somebody tested positive, although I explained at that point it would be too late and I was afraid we would have a shelter full of very sick people including my staff. Ultimately, I did not want anyone to die.”Karen Gregory from SOS press release
Tina Potter, the Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Social Services, defended her actions to the Times Union:
“I provided to her all the regulations and guidance that we have received from the (state) Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the CDC and the New York State Department of Health. … What that said was non-symptomatic people currently in shelter should remain in shelter. … It indicated it is important to have rooms available for use by people who are directed to be quarantined and it would not be appropriate to move non-symptomatic, non-quarantined people into the hotel rooms we may need for individuals who are symptomatic.”Tina Potter, Commissioner of Saratoga County Department of Social Services
The problem is that at the current shelter beds are quite close together which conflicts with the other New York State advisory that people should practice “Social Distancing.”
Homeless people are not only at increased risk but they can put the rest of the community at increased risk should they get sick. I really hate to point out the cost efficiency issue here as for me the moral imperative is the real issue. Nevertheless, what do readers of this blog think the cost of hospitalizing one homeless person stricken with the virus would be as compared to putting up forty people at a discount at the Holiday Inn? How many homeless people would contract the disease if they were crammed together in the shelter and one of them became infected? What about the additional stress on Saratoga Hospital and its staff?
“Our number one priority is the health and safety of people we are helping each day. Social distancing and hygiene is the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, people experiencing homelessness don’t have the ability to stay home. People experiencing homelessness don’t have regular access to sinks where they can wash their hands and those staying at homeless shelters can’t always remain six feet from another person. There are simply too many people and not enough space.”Karen Gregory, SOS Executive Director
Is Commissioner Potter one of those “essential” County employees being paid time and a half during this crisis?
So what did Mayor Kelly (who makes $14,500.00/year) do when approached by Ms. Gregory for help? Of course she threw herself into problem solving mode.
“For our city, this was not a high enough standard [JK : the standard set by the County] I’m proud that Saratoga Springs is joining a short, but growing list of communities across the country prepared to prevent infection and spread among our homeless population by using hotels to practice social distancing and enable access to adequate hygiene, hand washing, and quarantine. This will save lives.”Mayor Meg Kelly
In a news release issued by SOS, Gregory praised the Mayor for her help. Mayor Kelly promised help and the next morning the two started going “door to door” seeking a hotel.
They found a partner in the Holiday Inn.
Kevin Tuohy, general manager of the local Holiday Inn, bought in. Tuohy was originally from here and returned last year to manage the Holiday Inn.
A little history. In 1961 when the economy of Saratoga Springs was especially low, a group was established to provide quality lodging in the city. Money was raised and the Holiday Inn was born.
“In 1961, the idea of a community hotel in Saratoga Springs was born. While asking for donations from locals, the founders of the hotel stated that ‘change can impact a community in a positive way. Fifty-six years later, we are incredibly proud to have the opportunity to change the way we operate to support the Saratoga Springs community in this time of unprecedented crisis.”Kevin Touhy
Do We Live In A Great City Or What??
10 thoughts on “Mayor Kelly Comes To Aid Of Shelters of Saratoga To House Homeless After County Turns Them Down”
We do have a great Mayor – she is a doer, listens to feedback, and is very pragmatic.
Moreover, The Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs has always been true to its mission of being a community hotel. Kudos to them!
We do live in a great City. Thanks to Mayor Kelly for making this effort and to the Holiday In for making this possible. Hopefully, SOS can explain to the individuals who congregate on our streets the importance of socially distancing themselves. Many haven’t been doing so.
Hey Dr. Chris,
Maybe the Simpsons can best explain to you the importance of questioning this narrative?
The Simpsons Predicted The Corona Virus!!
Sorry, some of us don’t do social distancing well.
Or root canals!
Now–Go get a canolie!
Mrs. London’s needs the business.
Use it or lose it.
To me, it is a master stroke for all involved. I personally intend to take my next stay-cation at the Holiday Inn. They are making an extremely courageous move for a private sector entity.
The hotel, city and SOS’s teamwork and valor is increased by the contrast with our County’s behavior: Never missing a chance to drop back in formation, and punt their responsibilities away.
Replace the word “homeless” with “junkies” and it all makes sense.
Those among us who survived the 70’s in NYC know it all too well.
They are an infestation and need to be treated as such.
See them “social-distancing” by Stewarts?
Even local law enforcement won’t go near them.
Think people, think.
Infestation or contagion, pick one.
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“They are an infestation and need to be treated as such.”
Sad. Calm down, Justin: )
We’ve put up with your infestation for quite a long time. We can handle this, thanks.
(back up 6+ feet pls)…
Apologies for the crass rant but it is what it is.
Not all of these people are citizens of our fair city.
Many are not Saratogians. We take care of our own.
So, who are the rest of these people?
And: “We;” Arthur?
So, you are now representative of a group?
George Carlin could have said it better than I but:
The devil’s advocate, (the agent or qualifier for all things) might be the only element left to question the norm. Without objection, the premise cannot be tested. And tested it must be.
To question the convention is noble; for if the cause is just, the truth shall prevail.
Some of us are inclined to fall lock step, squarely behind each other; others not.
Unfortunately, those in the latter do not fair well amongst the sheep.
Some will not lower our flags; ad infinitum; for instance.
Some will not wear masks or distance ourselves so readily.
Some need undeniable “proof” to confront this invisible contagion.
Some of us do not buy into the fear mongering.
To buy into this gross mind-control game call Covid-19 is telling.
Those of us questioning the sincerity of these so-called homeless people, are not evil.
We are simply looking to qualify their needs as to the genuine condition.
Do we have mental health professionals that can qualify and oversee their needs?
Can we help those truly justified and segregate those whom are not?
There are many no doubt, that need our assistance.
Lest not confuse ourselves and open the city’s floodgates to every vagabond and derelict of society.
We will be sorry.
Your cause is noble.
But history tells us a different story.
You, obviously, never looked walked among the destitute or personally worked among these people.
Some of us have. Be forewarned: things are not what they seem to be.
Question everything; lest history repeats itself, once again.
Your input is respected and needed.
Please engage the debate and as Ben Franklin said; “Question authority, question everything.”
The principals of our republic are being tested.
We are being tested.
We must not falter.
Time to walk the dog (lol),
Off topic. I heard that Sheriff Deputies are still stationed at local schools. These are school monitors, who have been put in place to protect students against terrorists, etc. Why would they still be stationed in empty school buildings?
If they are still working for the schools, maybe it’s to follow up on non-responsive students and families that have been potentially thrown into less than ideal situations as a result of being told to stay home.
More parents are getting laid off and furloughed this week and some depend on the school to eat. Not all students’ home lives are created equal and schools do far beyond their first priority of academics. I’ll bet you some would argue that the first goal of schools is NOT academics. Domestic violence, abuse and trauma does not disappear in times like these.
This seems like a good question for someone in a position of authority to answer.
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I think Tina Potter and Spencer Hellwig should share their emails between each other as well as their emails with the State demonstrating a request that the process be challenged. Cuomo seems open to streamlining good ideas. Until then, they remain useless, even at 100% of their salaries, with regard to supporting the county homeless population.