FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2006
DEPUTY MAYOR GIBBS AND HOMELESS SERVICES COMMISSIONER HESS ANNOUNCE THE CLOSING OF CAMP LAGUARDIA HOMELESS SHELTER
Closure of City's Largest Homeless Shelter: Milestone in Reducing Homelessness
Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert V. Hess today announced the closure of Camp LaGuardia, the City's largest shelter for homeless single adults. The 1,000 person facility, which is located in Orange County and has been operated by the City since 1934, will be closed by June 2007. The closure of the shelter is part of Mayor Bloomberg's five-year plan to reduce homelessness in New York City by two-thirds by 2009, Uniting For Solutions Beyond Shelter. Over the last two years, the number of single adults sleeping in City shelters has been reduced by 13%, or more than 1,000 individuals, exceeding annual reduction targets. The announcement was made at the Prince George Hotel, a supportive housing residence operated by the organization Common Ground. Deputy Mayor Gibbs and Commissioner Hess were joined at the announcement by Orange County Executive Edward Diana.
"The closing of Camp LaGuardia is a milestone that tells us our plans are working," said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. "We knew the City's Five Year action plan, and its goal of decreasing the number of homeless by two-thirds by 2009, was ambitious. While it is hard to move from the impermanency of long term homelessness to the stability of a home, today's announcement shows that it can be done."
"A shelter is not a home, nor is it an effective long term solution to homelessness," said Commissioner Hess. "Our strategies of prevention, supportive housing and rental assistance are paying off, and by closing Camp LaGuardia we'll be able to reinvest in programs that will help further reduce dependency on the shelter system."
"I must thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs and Commissioner of Homeless Services Robert Hess for all the hard work they have put forward that led to the City's decision to close Camp LaGuardia," said Orange County Executive Diana. "The announcement that Camp LaGuardia will soon be closing is a tremendous accomplishment."
Camp LaGuardia's roughly $19 million budget, $7.1 million of which pays for transportation, security and other costs associated with operating outside the five boroughs, will be reinvested into preferred solutions outlined in DHS' five-year plan. Its closure is a sign of significant progress towards the goal of transitioning individuals from shelter to supportive housing and rental assistance programs. Since 2004, the agency's placement of single adults into long term housing has increased by 30%. In addition to the $19 million in annual savings, DHS clients will also benefit by being back in the City, closer to their employment and closer to opportunities for permanency planning and long-term housing.
Established as a shelter for New York City's homeless in 1934, the roughly 300 acre camp straddles the towns of Chester and Blooming Grove. The facility was built in 1918 and served as a correctional facility for women until 1934 when it was transferred to the City's Welfare Department and named "Camp Greycourt." The camp was renamed "Camp LaGuardia" in 1935. The purpose of the camp was to provide temporary relief for the unemployed. Prior to World War II and through the late 1950s, the camp included a 191 acre farm, which provided food for the residents and to which up to 150 residents were assigned to work. A 1958 report from the City's Department of Welfare noted that the farm harvested 184,572 pounds of potatoes with a valuation of $8,129.09.
The Prince George Hotel is a 416- unit supportive housing development that houses low-income working people and previously homeless single adults. Renovated and opened by Common Ground in the fall of 1999, The Prince George was originally built in 1904 as a luxury hotel, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jason Post (DM Gibbs) (212) 788-2958
Maryanne Schretzman (Department of Homeless Services)