City of Pittsfield Sets Public Forum on Homelessness

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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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 mayorsoffice@cityofpittsfield.org 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.


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Wreath Art Auction

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Wreath Art Auction is back in-person at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Friday, Dec. 2.
 
Dozens of local artists and members of the Springside Greenhouse Group have created original holiday wreaths, centerpieces and more. The preview party and sale begins at 5pm and the live auction will take place after the Park Square Holiday Tree Lighting at 6:30 pm. 
 
Tickets will be available at the door for a suggested donation of $10. Light food and beverages will be available.  100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of these original works of art will be donated to the South Congregational Church Food Pantry. The Wreath Art Auction has raised more than $30,000 over the years for the food pantry. 
 
The wreaths will be delivered and installed at the Lichtenstein Center for the Arts on Thursday, Dec. 1 from 10am-2pm and previewed on the Cultural Pittsfield Facebook Page.  
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