By Mark Hallum
A GoFundMe page to provide winter housing for a homeless companions living near Fort Totten has gathered over $3,000 in a $5,000 goal in the first three days since its launch by Bayside activist Gregg Sullivan.
The pair, known only as Sean and Janet, have lived under the sign near Little Bay Park pointing the direction to the Whitestone Bridge for about two years. Underneath is a smaller sign which says, “Bayside’s on its way”.
The community expressed concern and discussed solutions on the Bayside, Queens Facebook page as to how residents could help the companions during the winter months in recent months. Sullivan, one of many who are worried about them, spoke with the two, who did not want to live in government housing of any kind.
“I told him about our conversations in this group and some of the suggestions we’ve been talking about and asked him what he’d think about us buying him a heavy duty tent that could be warmed adequately,” Sullivan said about his talks with Sean. “He told me that’s out of the question because it’s illegal and considered an encampment that can be forcibly removed. I asked if there wasn’t something other that we could do to make the shelter he has set up better for him. He said ‘No’,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan asked Sean if he would consider moving to a motel instead.
“He’ll move from their current location at the foot of Fort Totten and into a motel room if provided, as long as it isn’t in some government-funded shelter or institution. He has severe, justifiable trust issues, having had terrible experiences in institutions in the past. So I let him know that we’d see about getting him that motel room to which he said thank you and sounded genuinely appreciative.”
But Sullivan said the next hurdle will be to find a home for the kitten Janet cares for. She sleeps at a nearby YMCA and leaves the cat with Sean since animals are not allowed at the facility.
The goal of the GoFundMe is to raise $5,000 total to provide shelter for the two. Sullivan has worked with the 109th Precinct to find proper arrangements for the pair and also provided a prepaid cell phone to Sean.
Sean is originally from Whitestone and Janet also comes from the surrounding area. They have been living on the streets for years, according to Sullivan.
Sullivan said the only money that would be disbursed to the companions directly would be small funds to pay for a phone for Janet, pet care and incidentals for Sean’s hygiene needs.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall