A committee spearheaded by Glen Cove's deputy mayor is planning to open a day center next week for homeless men as the start of a long-term effort to provide more services for the city's homeless population.
The day center is geared toward the roughly two dozen homeless men who spend each winter night in a Glen Cove church and have nowhere to go the following morning, when the shelter closes until the evening.
“We really feel we need to be responsible and look out for the people that may be walking around our city suffering, and who have no place to go,” said Deputy Mayor Maureen Basdavanos, who since March has led an 18-member committee on homelessness composed of city and nonprofit officials, clergy and others.
Committee members are finalizing arrangements with a local church to host the day center, she said. The center is a pilot project that officials will analyze to determine a long-term solution.
Basdavanos created the committee after complaints by some residents of homeless men lingering sometimes for hours at the library, the senior center and coffee shops. Several parents said their children are hesitant to use the library.
“Sometimes [homeless men] may be asleep snoring in a chair,” and that “made them feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Basdavanos said, “No one’s being threatening or bothering people.” But the complaints highlighted the lack of daytime options for homeless men in Glen Cove, she said.
The center will be open three afternoons a week through late March, when the overnight shelter that the nonprofit North Shore Sheltering Program runs at First Presbyterian Church closes for the season.
The day center will have a donated television and DVD player, books, magazines, snacks and coffee.
A social worker will be available, and volunteers will seek feedback from the men as to what other services — such as job-search and medical assistance — could be added later, she said. The committee may eventually open the center to women and children and run it year-round.
“That would of course be our ultimate goal, to have something year-round,” Basdavanos said. “This is just a first small step in determining what the need is.”
The overnight shelter has a social worker, but many of the men who sleep there are exhausted when they arrive and are more likely to use counseling, case management and other services at a day center, said Steve Fortuna, a sheltering program board member.
“The men have spent the day outside, and they come in and eat a hot meal and typically just want to go to bed,” he said.
Maureen’s Haven, which has run overnight shelters at a rotating list of religious congregations in four East End towns for 17 years, opened a year-round day center in Riverhead in 2013, said Dan O’Shea, the nonprofit’s executive director.
Guests have access to a case manager and social worker, as well as to computers, phones, job services and GED, financial management and computer-skills classes.
“The folks needed a place to go during the day, to get out of the heat as well as the cold…” O’Shea said. “They have a place that is welcoming and where they’re not judged and also connected to services.”
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH NIGHT SHELTER
The night shelter began in 1997.
The shelter runs from the Monday after Thanksgiving to March 31.
An average of about 25 men sleep overnight in the church in the community room.
Guests receive a hot meal in addition to access to a social worker.