By Mark Hallum
Republican candidate Michael Conigliaro is facing down his 2014 opponent, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), and says he is learning from the mistakes that lost him the seat with 47 percent of the vote.
The GOPer has a long-term plan to fix the homeless crisis in the city by adopting a three-pronged legislative goal at the state level over the next three years as well as addressing the issue of providing long-overdue Hurricane Sandy relief and repairing the education system.
As the president of the alumae association at Queensborough Community College and manager at a Floral Park law firm, Conigliaro says he has gained in name recognition after building a presence on social media, at civic meetings and being an outspoken voice for the community on the issue of homeless shelters.
He contends the best option for stemming the stream of homeless into shelters is by requiring residency from those checking in. Conigliaro said his plan is similar to regulations in the state of Florida, which require a drug test for those receiving welfare. Insisting that it would not put more people on the streets, he said it would encourage people to seek refuge in their home state.
Shelter resources should be reserved for homeless veterans, he said.
“I would look to propose legislation that take around three years to pass to make New York a resident-only state. New York is the only state that allows people to come from other states, and once you get here, you’re eligible for homeless services,” he said, adding that hotels only have the essential amenities for a few nights at a time. “The second thing I would look to do is, if the mayor and the governor can’t decide to have a conversation, I would like to have a conversation with the governor if I’m elected, to bring back the Section 8 voucher program… What the program allows people to do is to assimilate. What the mayor is doing is putting 200 people inside a place that is not considered a habitable condition.”
Conditions are poor in the homeless shelters because Dept. of Homeless Services is not vetting the people who are being admitted, he said.
“There are registered sex offenders living in the Pan Am, along with women and children,” Conigliaro said, pointing out that hotel conversions are a violation of many homeless shelter regulations.
“I would look to do a full-scale audit of DHS and find out all the money that’s being spent and wasted that could be allocated to [passing homeless legislation and funding Section 8],” Conigliaro said.
The Republican candidate volunteered at the Sacred Heart Parish in Glendale for a decade, and would like to see faith-based shelters replace homeless shelters as a low-cost option during the three years he said it will take him to implement his intentions for homeless reform.
Conigliaro said Build it Back is not only broken and in need of auditing, but it is also a bureaucratic nightmare from the ground up. Many people who should have received funds from the Hurricane Sandy relief were forced to put months rent and security down on housing before they could be reimbursed by Build it Back, all the while paying mortgage on their homes which are unlivable. Many constituents in the district have experienced trouble contacting case workers from Build it Back and their problems often remained unresolved years later.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall