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Got Milk For Homeless? City Officials Say Yes After Courier Series – QNS.com

Got Milk For Homeless? City Officials Say Yes After Courier Series

Promise to Act on Complaints of Homeless Families
Less than two weeks after a Queens Courier investigation disclosed that stale canned milk was being served to homeless babies at the Emergency Assistance Unit in the Bronx, a top official of the Citys Department of Homeless Services has pledged that the practice has been stopped cold.
"Because of your story I made inquiries and we expect that this will never happen again," said Robert Mascali, first deputy commissioner of the DHS.
Though he called the serving of stale milk "an isolated incident," Mascali also said he has "reassigned personnel" at the EAU who were responsible for issuing the bad food.
The Emergency Assistance Unit (EAU), located in the shadows of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, is the clearing house for all the Citys 6,500 homeless families.
In a story published on Dec. 5, as part of a four-part series on the homeless crisis in New York City, The Queens Courier revealed that several parents and grandparents of homeless children at the EAU were being given canned milk with expiration dates that were more than a month old.
Dominga Quintana, who was at the EAU with her 2-year-old granddaughter Catherine, said the toddler became ill after drinking the expired milk. "If I gave this milk to Catherine the City would call it child abuse. What do I call it when the City gives her the milk?"
More than 50 other homeless clients at the EAU and at City shelters complained that they or their children are often getting sick from food served at the facilities.
But Mascali insisted that the City takes great care to serve its homeless families fresh food, adding "we feed thousands of people without incident every day."
In the wake of The Queens Couriers stories, Mascali promised to take seriously dozens of complaints by homeless mothers that staff at the EAU and at local shelters are verbally abusive and often make egregious errors in processing vital documents.
He said that any homeless client who is "treated discourteously" should write him a letter at the DHS headquarters at 33 Beaver St. New York, NY 10004. Clients should outline the date and time of the incident, what exactly occurred and if possible, the name of the DHS official involved. Mascali added, "I will personally investigate it."
The latest statistics show that the number of homeless families in New York City is at an all-time high. Two-thirds of the Citys shelter population is made up of children and their parentsa whopping 21,567 children, moms and dads who dont have a place to call home.
Homeless advocates blame the burgeoning homeless numbers on the lack of affordable housing in the City. During Mayor Giulianis administration, the City has spent about $320 million on housing, far less then either Mayors Dinkins or Koch.
While he acknowledged the housing shortage, Mascali said his departments mandate is providing emergency shelter to homeless.
Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg has promised to make the creation of affordable housing a top priority.
"The Mayor-elect plans to increase the amount of affordable housing by reducing costs, updating building codes and encouraging private development," Bloomberg spokesman Ed Skyler told The Queens Courier.

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