MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. – Democratic caucus members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators expressed outrage and announced plans to investigate why the Astorino administration decided to close the Valhalla Residence Shelter on Hammond Road and relocate approximately 20 homeless individuals living there to various other facilities around the county.
The residents of the Valhalla facility, which offers specialized medical care, were given only two weeks’ notice that were going to be moved out. While the residents are being guaranteed a bed elsewhere, there is tremendous concern about the lack of prior notice to the residents, and whether arrangements have been made for continuing specialized medical care for the residents at their new locations, wherever that may be. The Astorino administration’s decision to abruptly move the residents out seems to have been in the works for quite a while, however. The county’s $15.9 million contract with an agency to care for the homeless residents at new facilities was placed on the agenda of the County’s Board of Acquisition & Contract this week and approved by County Executive Rob Astorino and County Department of Public Works and Transportation Commissioner Jay Pisco. “Moving homeless residents who are dependent on certain medical care out of their residence, during the winter holidays and with such short notice, has to be one of the most inexplicable and mean-spirited decisions ever made by this Administration, “ said Board of Legislators Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining). “To deliberately engineer the decision at the end of the year, so as to squash any discussion on whether this policy shift even makes sense to the County financially, flies in the face of good governance as well.” The Valhalla Residence Shelter, on the county-owned Grasslands campus in Valhalla, is a transitional residence for homeless individuals and childless couples. Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the board's Community Services Committee, has called for an emergency meeting of the committee on Monday, Dec. 22, at 11 a.m. to discuss with administration officials on why the decision was so hasty and its effects on the community.