Rice Calls on County Executive to Provide Free Rides to Warming Centers
The letter also calls for a review of after-hours services, Emergency Shelter procedures during dangerous weather events
GARDEN CITY, NY – With temperatures set to drop below freezing, Representative Kathleen Rice (NY-04) today sent a letter to Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman urging the County to provide free rides to Warming Centers for unsheltered Nassau County residents via the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus system and to review the Department of Social Services’ process for emergency shelter in dangerous weather conditions.
“We cannot wait for an unsheltered person to freeze to death before we address this problem,” Rep. Kathleen Rice said. “The County needs to be proactive in providing services to those in need on nights we are experiencing dangerous drops in temperature. The good news is that we have the tools to address this problem. The County Executive should enlist NICE to arrange free transportation for those in need of emergency shelter, simplify the process for emergency shelter during dangerous weather conditions, and review the County’s after-hours services. These simple steps will protect our most vulnerable constituents.”
“It is absolutely imperative that we ensure the safety and well-being of all of our constituents, regardless of their means of transportation, or lack thereof,” said Bishop Lionel Harvey of the First Baptist Cathedral in Westbury. “The compassion that we should have for those that are disheveled and misplaced in times of mixed circumstances should be paramount, and our efforts to ensure the well-being and safety of all humans should always be our priority.”
As Mayor of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead, I have been working on this problem since I was elected,” said Village of Hempstead Mayor Waylyn Hobbs. “I have met with many County officials, including those from the Department of Social Services, to collaboratively address this issue only to learn that the County is not providing the correct resources, whether it be a phone or transportation. We need the County to cut the red tape so we can better address this issue, especially with the cold temperatures bearing down on us.”
The full text of Rep. Rice’s letter can be found below.
Dear Mr. Blakeman,
I write to you today regarding transportation to Nassau County Warming Centers for residents who do not have access to a vehicle or money for mass transit or taxis and the process for emergency shelter requests through the Department of Social Services. As you know, the winter season on Long Island can often bring us freezing temperatures that can be dangerous for unsheltered Nassau County residents.
Last week, my staff received late-night requests from community advocates to assist more than 20 unsheltered individuals in the Village of Hempstead on a night where temperatures fell into the single digits. After spending more than an hour on the phone with the Department of Social Services, we were only able to ensure that a handful were transported, via personal vehicles that the community advocates provided, to a County Warming Center in Cantiague Park. This is a failure of the County’s Social Services. We can and should do better for the residents of the County who need our assistance.
While I appreciate that the County has opened three Warming Centers, there is still much to be done. I suggest utilizing the Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) bus system to arrange free rides for people who need transportation to Warming Centers. I also suggest reviewing the County’s process for emergency shelter, especially when the weather presents life threatening conditions. The goal in these instances should be the preservation of life and safety for those in need, but there is too much red tape to navigate the process quickly and efficiently.
As we face temperatures that will drop below freezing and into the teens for the next week, I am calling on the County to address these problems immediately. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. If we can be of assistance going forward, please contact Tom Curry in my District Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (516) 739-3008.
KATHLEEN M. RICE
Member of Congress