Thursday, December 20, 2007

Guardian Not Surprised By Finding Of Drugs At County Homeless Shelter In Valhalla


The arrests last week of James Hill, 37, and Quatisha Jackson, 23, for the unlawful possession of crack, heroin
and marijuana at the County Homeless Shelter on the Valhalla Campus came as no surprise to The Westchester Guardian.

More than a year ago, in our November 30, 2006 issue, In Our Opinion stated, “We were further informed that the use of illegal drugs was routine amongst so many residents at the Valhalla Shelter that it was causing serious problems daily, keeping it under wraps. We are well aware that about two weeks ago, the day after We visited the shelter site on a photo-taking mission, identifying ourselves to a uniformed guard, several residents, reportedly involved in drug sales and abuse, were evicted from the building.”

One of our concerns at the time involved the fact that the County of Westchester was putting $155 per month,
unnecessary food allowance money, in addition to personal spending money of approximately $25 every two weeks, “into the hands of homeless individuals who are, for the most part, unemployed with lots of time and little accountability.” Confidential sources had informed The Guardian that, “Many residents of the County Shelter at
Valhalla routinely convert their food stamp money into cash at any number of unscrupulous and illegal food markets, and bodegas throughout Westchester; accepting as little as $90 or whatever they manage to negotiate,
and often using those funds to purchase cigarettes and illegal drugs.”

We stand by the position we took more than a year ago: “While it is true that individuals who are found to be, or
are suspected of being, involved in substance abuse upon screening by DCMH (Department of Community Mental Health), are referred to drug prevention and rehabilitation programs while under Department of Social Services case management and supervision, it is clearly counterproductive to be putting nearly $2,000 a year each into the hands of many hundreds of individuals who clearly have no entitlement to those funds under federal and state rules and regulations.

Worse yet, it is scandalous to continue to knowingly squander taxpayer dollars, hundreds of thousands per year, incredibly, to enrich unscrupulous merchants and local drug dealers.”

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