The Parks Commission on Tuesday unanimously accepted and endorsed a draft action plan to address overnight camping in the parks under its commission policy. This policy addresses the influx of homeless individuals who began seeking shelter most popularly at Springside Park in the summer of 2020.
Actions include installing new signage and increased awareness of park rules, cleaning abandoned sites and monitoring for new ones, leaving "friendly written reminders" of the overnight camping rules at sites, and circulating community reminders on the best ways to direct goodwill to those in need.
Edward Carmel, who had been chair of the rescinded Homelessness Prevention Committee, identified himself as the target of Borden's comments in last week's HAC meeting and told iBerkshires that two agenda items he attempted to submit were the reason for her testimony.
Executive Director Janis Broderick spoke to the Human Services Advisory Council last week about the link between domestic violence and homelessness along with an increased need for the organization's services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following a $1,900 donation last week to the Christian Center, 8-year-old entrepreneur Hadley Light received a gift from Mayor Linda Tyer to commemorate her clothing business that benefits the homeless.
First United Methodist Church on Fenn Street is hoping to welcome guests to its new homeless shelter in April. The 40-bed facility will be administered by ServiceNet, which currently runs the emergency COVID-19 shelter at the former St. Joseph's High School.
The Christian Center held an official grand opening for the anticipated daytime warming shelter located at 193 Robbins Ave. This space is a result of center, ServiceNet, and the city's collaboration over the last couple of months.
The shelter is a 24-by-60 foot trailer similar to the ones used as temporary classrooms by school districts will offer housing insecure folks a warm place to reside in the hours that ServiceNet's shelter at the former St. Joseph's High School is closed.
As the Pittsfield officials grapple with homelessness solutions, the appointment of a reworked Homeless Advisory Committee yields hope.
"We are eager to have the new Homeless Advisory Committee get started," Mayor Linda Tyer said on Tuesday as 15 appointments were made to the new advisory committee.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio brought two petitions to City Council on Tuesday calling for an investigation into conditions at the temporary shelter at former St. Joseph's School and challenging the city"s policy of evicting the encampment at Springside Park.
Mayor Linda Tyer this week said the city of Pittsfield is feeling discouraged from the lack of community organizations willing to host a warming shelter that will house homeless individuals during the hours that the St. Joseph's temporary winter shelter on Maplewood Avenue is closed.
The commission will be evacuating the park by Dec. 1 in hopes these individuals will choose to relocate to the recently reopened COVID-19 shelter at the former St. Joseph's high school on Maplewood Avenue.
The committee on Thursday heard from a number of sources on the issue, including Community Development Director Deanna Ruffer, who said the city has been working agencies to define what type of project would work for a homeless population whose needs have changed.
The council approved an amended ordinance earlier in the month creating a Homeless Advisory Committee that better clarifies the group's purpose, reporting requirements and advocacy for funding sources.
In response, commission unanimously approved to resolution urging Mayor Linda Tyer and the City Council to draft a housing first policy as a fundamental human right given to individuals before they are expected to clean up their lives.