Craven Cave-In

Rudy's Senate Ambitions Prompt Reversal on City's Upstate Homeless Camp

Indeed Bernstein found that the most alarming incidents involving LaGuardia residents were three separate accidents when they'd been run down and killed trying to cross local highways, and one example of the harassment directed at them, namely a successful $30,000 lawsuit brought by a homeless man who was arrested under an open-container law for drinking a Sprite. Nonetheless, Giuliani was moved to act in April when he met with opponents of the camp before the party dinner, and one Republican activist who lives near the camp, Susan McCabe, produced thousands of index cards supposedly documenting the misdeeds of camp residents in the neighborhood.

McCabe has complained bitterly about instances of public masturbation and other disorderly conduct, writing Governor Pataki that "it's sad to say" that what's accepted "as normal behavior in NYC has now become accepted in Orange County." She's also complained about Giuliani's failure to respond to certified letters she sent him, but she, like the rest of the local opponents, is quite happy now.

In addition to the fence and intense warrant checks, NYPD is, according to Sheirer, "in the process of identifying a police superior officer who will act as the security director for DHS," as well as "a retired or active NYPD supervisor or state police supervisor to serve as the director of security physically at Camp LaGuardia." While security services are contracted out to private companies in every other city shelter, DHS has agreed to keep city "peace officers with the power to make arrests" at LaGuardia, a pivotal issue to local activists. Oesterreich said DHS would also increase the security force from 32 to 54.

A curfew, an advisory board that will include an NYPD official, a hot line to DHS for local complaints, finger-imaging of men sent to the camp, and the immediate reassignment to another shelter of anyone deemed objectionable are all part of the city's plan. Aside from the hefty costs of all these efforts, the city's changes have alarmed advocates. Maureen Friar, executive director of the Supportive Housing Network, charges that the administration is "using a prison to house people," and Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless says the introduction of screening rules and use of city police at LaGuardia is "an accommodation to community demands" that is not done at any shelter in a the city.

With special reporting by Camila Gamboa & Soo-Min Oh

Research: Coco McPherson, Kandea Mosley, Ron Zapata

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