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Friday, January 25, 2008

Milford may create ‘no freeze’ shelter

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— After recently encountering several homeless people searching for shelter on deadly cold winter nights, city officials are exploring the possibility of creating a "no freeze" emergency homeless shelter.
An interagency task force was formed to figure out how great the need is for an emergency shelter and to eventually decide whether creating one is feasible for the city, Fire Chief Louis LaVecchia said Thursday.
"We know there is a need, we just don’t know how much of a need," LaVecchia said. "But that’s what we’re looking at, and it’s something that can’t wait."
But Human Resources Development Director Lisa Diamond-Graham, who is spearheading the effort, was quick to point out that the city is currently only trying to determine the level of need and no specific plans have been made.
She declined to comment further on the effort and said, "It would be irresponsible to talk about it before we know what the issues are."
The interagency task force was formed at the end of December and has met three times. It includes representatives from the Board of Health, Fire Department, Mayor’s Office, Department of Public Works, HRD and the Beth-El Center for the homeless.
The task force was formed after homeless people tried to find shelter on a cold December night at the fire station on New Haven Avenue, LaVeccia said. The Fire Department called the nearby Beth-El Center, but the 32-bed shelter that offers transitional housing had no room.
"Part of what we do at (HRD) is outreach work, and from time to time we have incidents when we need to place people in shelters and there have been times in our town where there were no openings," Diamond-Graham said. "The last incident was during (this) winter and on a Friday afternoon and the person didn’t want to leave Milford. That made me begin to wonder what happens to these people."
The Beth-El Center is typically full during winter months as its residents can stay up to three months. People usually choose to stay for the full time allowed during the coldest months of the year. The Beth-El Center doesn’t offer emergency shelter and people must first fill out an "intake request." It is extremely rare for someone to be accepted the day they apply and beds become available infrequently during the winter months, said a representative from the center.
People who need emergency shelter are given transportation to "no-freeze" shelters in New Haven, Bridgeport or Derby, said police spokesman Officer Vaughan Dumas.
The initial goal was to create an emergency shelter in Milford immediately, but it quickly became clear that logistical hurdles were too difficult to make that possible, Mayoral Assistant John H. O’Connell said. There is no timeline set for a decision on whether a shelter will go forward, but O’Connell said that by the time extreme temperatures hit the area in the late fall is "more realistic."
James Tinley can be reached at or 876-3030. Visit the All About Milford blog at, click on Blog Central.



Anonymous the Scarlet Pimpernel said...

How many shelters do we need in town. The more we build the more that will come. It is a problem that a city can never keep up with. Let's not get crazy. besides, they do not even know if there is a need? Then why are we talking about it and telegraphing a VACANCY sign. Dumb! Just more City employees thinking of more ways to spend more money they don't have, but will soon be asking us to pay for it with more taxes. Just more of the same nonsense.

January 25, 2008 at 2:10 PM 
Anonymous bozo said...

"Resources Development Director Lisa Diamond-Graham, who is spearheading the effort, was quick to point out that the city is currently only trying to determine the level of need and no specific plans have been made."

Deadly cold nights-searching for shelter-emergency-City Hall.

February 1, 2008 at 12:49 AM 

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