To the Editor:
I am writing in response to the article that appeared in last week's New Milford Spectrum regarding the Loaves & Fishes Hospitality House.
I am currently board president of the New Milford Homeless Shelter Coalition.
Prior to assuming this role, I watched the previous board president have multiple disagreements with Mayor Pat Murphy regarding our finding a permanent location in the downtown area.
When I took the reins of the shelter coalition, I wanted to end the bickering with Town Hall. It was energy and time consuming and yielded no results.
However, after reading this article, I can no longer be silent and watch Mayor Murphy attempt to bully the new leadership of Loaves & Fishes out of town as she attempted to bully the homeless shelter coalition out of town several years ago.
Mayor Murphy states in the article she will offer her help to find a new location for Loaves & Fishes and then states the prospect of locating it at Faith Church.
Really, Mayor Murphy, did you think we at the shelter coalition would forget when you offered up Faith Church as a solution for the homeless shelter?
Why don't you just say you do not want the less fortunate in our town.
I know Faith Church is in New Milford, but it might as well be in Brookfield in suggesting it as a viable location.
Think I'm kidding?
Ten years ago, it was Mayor Murphy who started busing our homeless out of town, sending them to Danbury. When Mayor Boughton found this little fact out he was not pleased with your plan to help the homeless in New Milford, was he?
Social Services needs to be in or very near the center of town.
Why? Access to bus transportation, access to multiple services in a single trip, services like the food pantry, soup kitchen, energy assistance, food stamp applications, the library, the homeless shelter... shall I go on?
Why do you want those less fortunate out of the downtown area?
Because the homeless and soup kitchen clients hang around the Green and bring down the smalltown allure?
Stop business from coming into town?
Well, guess what? In the 12 years I have been working on homelessness in New Milford, the people on the Green are just your regular town citizens. Well, okay, one homeless person did hang around the Green, but he recently passed away.
And, by the way, Mayor Murphy, he fixed more kids' bicycles during the warm months than any of us will ever know.
It's time the town knows you just want to hide the fact that the economic health of our town is in serious trouble.
Use of all the Social Service programs is up.
The food bank is always campaigning for more food; energy assistance needs fund raisers to help keep the increased numbers that depend on energy assistance warm; soup kitchen numbers are up; and shelter numbers are 300 percent higher than last year.
This town has a problem and hiding it will not make this fact go away.
Get us real jobs, not retail minimum wage jobs, and watch the downtown grow and flourish.
And, in the meantime, leave Loaves & Fishes alone.