City of Pittsfield Sets Public Forum on Homelessness
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following weeks of conversation about homelessness, the city will be holding a virtual forum with its community partners on the issue.
The panel will be broadcast on Pittsfield Community Television on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. Residents with questions can submit them to email@example.com by Oct. 6.
Digital fliers for the event read: "What’s the plan to help our unhoused neighbors?" and "Panhandling is a concern. Here is what we can and can't do."
The announcement of the forum follows the City Council's referral of a petition from Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey asking for an update on the initiatives the city is undertaking to address homelessness to Mayor Linda Tyer.
Petitions relating to homelessness from Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick have been rejected over the last couple of council meetings.
Kronick has asserted that homeless encampments are causing a decline in neighborhoods and that the campers have no right to public places like Springside Park because it is owned by taxpayers.
He has had two unsuccessful petitions on the topic: one requesting a public hearing on the encampments, and another to postpone all of the Parks Departments' future funding requests and grant approvals until the prohibiting of camps in Springside Park is enforced.
Councilors were concerned that a public hearing would provide a forum for hearsay and disrespectful rhetoric and saw Kronick's petition to withhold Parks Department funds until the population is evacuated from Springside as an attack.
The first failed with no conversation and the second sparked responses from other councilors.
"This petition, to me, reads as an attack on homeless people, people who are poor," Councilor at Large Earl Persip III said.
"This is not a productive petition. This is not helpful. This petition has nothing to address the issue at hand and in the city of Pittsfield we're not going to criminalize poverty," Ward 6 Councilor Dina Guiel Lampiasi said.
The city recently allocated $8.6 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for housing initiatives.
It is divided into $354,500 for the Fenn Street Emergency Shelter; $6.5 million for Pittsfield Permanent Supportive Housing and Housing Resource Center; $750,000 for White Terrace Apartments; $500,000 for an affordable housing trust; and $500,000 for the mayor's At Home in Pittsfield program.
The largest allocation will go toward eight units of permanent supportive housing on the second floor of Zion Lutheran Church's hall and a 28-unit transitional housing project at 111 West Housatonic St.