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Story - News

Dec 20, 2011 2:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hidden Cove Puts Human Face On Homelessness

Dec 21, 2011 1:09 PM

Desiree Burgess, 38, has just finished removing a pan of bubbling lasagna from the oven on a recent Thursday afternoon. Her infant son, Desmond, is sleeping peacefully in his playpen while her husband, Shedrick, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, greets guests with a smile when they come to the door.

This scene of domestic tranquility could easily be found in any town across the United States, as families gather to share dinner in the comfort of their warm homes.

But Ms. Burgess and her family are homeless.

The room where they are staying, which features a small kitchenette, is one of 32 at the Hidden Cove Motel in 
Hampton Bays. Their room is cozy, clean and welcoming. It is also temporary, though 
that has not prevented it 
from becoming the epicenter of controversy that has 
divided the community.

The decision by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services to utilize the Hidden Cove Motel as a full-scale homeless shelter has neighbors who live on West Tiana Road, near the facility, furious. For weeks, they have galvanized and reached out to elected officials to try and prevent the DSS from utilizing the site, stating their belief that a homeless shelter will send property values plummeting and 
create a plethora of safety and quality of life concerns.

Currently, the Burgesses are one of 19 homeless families temporarily housed at the motel, the only homeless shelter of its kind in Southampton Town. The next closest facility is in Riverhead Town, according to DSS officials, and the bulk of the homeless shelters are placed in western Suffolk County, in Bellport, Bayport, Central Islip, Brentwood and Huntington. There are no shelters in East Hampton Town.

The Hidden Cove Motel, once its transformation is complete, will be able to house up to 30 homeless families at once, and will serve as one of 53 such shelters now being run by the DSS.

Those low-income residents who had been renting rooms at the motel on a weekly or monthly basis were informed in November that they were being evicted to make room for the new homeless shelter, which is run under the auspices of Community Housing Innovations Inc.

The uproar, according to Gregory Blass, the commissioner of the DSS, has succeeded in feeding the fears of those who unfairly view all homeless as dangerous criminals, drug addicts, alcoholics or lazy individuals who choose not to work. And he says that recent efforts by Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, who have been working with neighbors who were trying to block the opening of 
the Hampton Bays shelter, 
have stirred up a simmering pot of prejudice against the homeless.

Ms. Throne-Holst has decried the fact that DSS began moving families into the facility without notifying the town, an action that Mr. Schneiderman has said violates a county law that caps the number of homeless allowed to live in one facility at 12. This week, Ms. Throne-Holst sent a letter to the operators of the motel stating, in part, that individuals cannot be housed at the facility for more than one month, or the operators risk violating town code.

The DSS, Mr. Blass maintains, is directed by the state to house all of the county’s homeless, a task that has become more challenging now that there are more than 500 homeless families in Suffolk, a number that continues to grow. He also said his office is not required by law to notify towns and villages whenever they open a new shelter in the county, and that privacy laws preclude disclosure of their locations.

“To what end should we have given them a head’s up? So they could ambush us?” Mr. Blass asked, referring to Ms. Throne-Holst’s demands. “It’s the sensationalism that the politicians have fostered that has contributed to this exaggerated and deplorable image of the homeless.”

A Perfect Storm

Mr. Blass is working to put an end to those misconceptions, explaining that there is a new face to homelessness in Suffolk County—and across the nation. He said many factors, such as climbing unemployment, a sluggish economy and a rash of foreclosures, in addition to situations that involve domestic violence, have led to unprecedented numbers of homeless families in Suffolk, and a surge in the number of first-time homeless who are seeking emergency and temporary shelter as they try to repair their shattered lives.

“It’s a perfect storm,” he said.

Still, Mr. Blass stresses that the shelters are meant to be temporary, and residents must work toward finding themselves permanent shelter. The average family, he said, typically spends four to six months in emergency housing like that now being offered at the Hidden Cove Motel. Mr. Blass also pointed out that those placed in the facility must follow stringent rules, including honoring curfews, and allow for the inspection of their rooms. Security is present on site and staff is available 24 hours a day.

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Lisa,
do you all do any background checks on the folks you report on? Some folks have and Mr. Shadrick burgess was never a Navy SEAL. Pretty sure he never served either. I would do a better job of vetting folks or the paper will end up having to do a retraction over this!
Merry Christmas.
A concerned Marine
By LtCol7557 (1), Arlington on Dec 21, 11 10:41 AM
2 members liked this comment
The article has been corrected to reflect that Mr. Burgess is a U.S. Navy veteran. His wife, during an interview, misspoke, stating that he was a SEAL. Mr. Burgess on Wednesday corrected his wife's misstatement.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (117), Westhampton Beach on Dec 21, 11 11:48 AM
I'm sorry,although they look like perfectly nice people, they are not local ! This is a very big deal for many reasons.This whole wave of people are from a program about 15 years ago that helped get federal funding out here. Thus, all the "motels" turned into emergency housing and each room was fetching $4,500.00 a month then. Who knows what now.Who pays? And who feels the brunt? we do. Schools have to be expanded, and now the kids with disabilities of one form or other have to be addressed, ( ...more
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Dec 21, 11 5:04 PM
2 members liked this comment
people that don't give back?

It seems from the article this man gave plenty, sacrificing his life to serve his country in a time of need.

The least we can do is provide him some housing until he gets back on his feet.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 21, 11 5:43 PM
Not 'his life' as in he died, but his life as in, he put his life on hold to go serve his country.
By C Law (354), Water Mill on Dec 21, 11 5:45 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Dec 21, 11 5:04 PM
Is this the same Ed Hernandez who worked for Community Housing Innovations? Now he is the Deputy Social Services Director who gets this contract?
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Dec 24, 11 10:48 PM
By the way CHI has been involved in other parts of Southampton Town;
Their track record is poor.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Dec 24, 11 10:50 PM
I've said it before... So here it goes again.

"Not in my backyard."... That's what I'm getting from a large percentage of these comments.

Why are people so damn uncomfortable with the statistics of the homeless population? Is it because that maybe, one day, the fear of becoming homeless might actually happen to the staunch opposers themselves? Or, is it just simply the "fear" of those who ARE homeless RIGHT NOW?? It's cold outside, people... some cannot afford to fill their oil ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 25, 11 1:34 AM

There should be no pity for those whom we do not want or welcome or invite into our Christian community on the South Fork. They are not our kind, they party all night, drink too much, have sex like animals, have kids who are slovenly & some are even, as clamdigger notes, special ed kids with disabilities that cost the tax-payer more. And they are not LOCAL. Repeat: not local! These interlopers do not have grandparents born here (my rule to be rightly called a local.) They are outsiders. Outliers. ...more
By mo (89), Sag Harbor on Dec 26, 11 3:30 AM
break it up ladies.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 27, 11 4:49 PM
Why are these people exported out here to the Hamptons? Because it is a vacation spot, that's why. There are no programs to help people who reside out here. They put the word out in other areas and then the "do-gooders" try and make the residents out here feel "guilty" and proclaim they are predjudiced which is not the point! We end up with all of the left overs which includes illegals and city folk who are able but not ready to be employed but who move forward with having children anyway!
By Bridget325 (27), Hampton Bays on Dec 27, 11 2:00 PM
2 members liked this comment
What is very odd is the fact that this motel has always housed the disenfranchised. I don't think the tenants will be that different than the ones who lived there before. At least now it will be run by CHI and not run by an absentee landlord who was only interested in money.

By rabbit (65), watermill on Dec 27, 11 2:54 PM
Not really, this motel used to actually be a motel!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 27, 11 6:04 PM
Not really, this motel used to actually be a motel!
By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Dec 27, 11 6:04 PM
What is very odd is the fact that this motel has always housed the disenfranchised. I don't think the tenants will be that different than the ones who lived there before. At least now it will be run by CHI and not run by an absentee landlord who was only interested in money.

By rabbit (65), watermill on Dec 27, 11 2:54 PM
break it up ladies, rabbit is exactly correct.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 27, 11 4:49 PM
We be happy when the county be buying all that land for preservation, we be happy when they be fixing the roads, but we be damned when they send us their black folk. We be good Christians us locals...
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Dec 27, 11 8:51 PM
"Pardon me, but could you help out a fellow American who's down on his luck?"

-OR-

Is it: "Hit da' road!"

Does anyone know the way to Sierra Madre?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 27, 11 11:31 PM
1 member liked this comment
"Pardon me, but could you help out a fellow American who's down on his luck?"

-OR-

Is it: "Hit da' road!"

Does anyone know the way to Sierra Madre?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 27, 11 11:31 PM
Why don't you explain what YOU have done to help your fellow man rather than just pound away at the keys, there Ant. If you haven't noticed there is a rash of folks showing up and paying off layaway bills with kids' toys on them. Whenever there is a tragedy, we give like nobody else on the planet. If you hate your life there in North Sea so much why don't YOU head to Sierra Madre, because us out here in the real world...we give as the Lord intended. No honor is creating legislation aimed at ...more
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 28, 11 5:47 AM
"If you haven't noticed there is a rash of folks showing up and paying off layaway bills with kids' toys on them."

Yep, once a year. I'm sure the publicity is phenominal for one's self-value.

And as to "Whenever there is a tragedy, we give like nobody else on the planet."

So do other people... not just in this area.

We all make choices.. smart ones, dumb ones, ineffective ones, the list goes on. The bottom line here is that we're ALL people.. we're ALL the same. ...more
By Allergic2Stupidity (77), Riverhead on Dec 28, 11 10:49 AM
He don't know me very well, do he?
Dec 28, 11 4:05 PM appended by Mr. Z
Had to take a 15 at second job to finish. E-waste collection, free PC repair for students, bag o' trash every time I kayak, hike, or go to the beach. I come home with more trash than I left with. Two jobs, so I can help keep a roof over the heads of 3 generations of family. Funds from those two jobs also go to breast cancer, autism, hunger organizations, PAL, and of course the Plunge. Plus, our family business does alot in the community so that also means I get to participate by helping us earn the money that goes to causes via it as well.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 28, 11 4:05 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 29, 11 5:26 AM
A quick review of a very weak website called littlegreenfootballs will revewal that the Klown Kar and a large amount of Phyllis' rap comes directly from its pages. He reads that, it successfully gets him all worked up (as intended) and then he comes over here and regurgitates is as though the ignorance is his own. Busted.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 30, 11 6:52 AM
oh he "know me alright." don't kid yourself. everyone does.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 30, 11 6:53 AM
@ Glazed:

"Everybody Knows" ~ Leonard Cohen/Sharon Robinson
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 6, 12 9:45 PM
Oh yea, in this very paper there is a story about a woman who gave a kidney to a friend. Get over yourself and your false narratives.
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Dec 28, 11 5:49 AM
You've never seen the Bogey film "Treasure of Sierra Madre", eh?

A heck of a story regarding greed. and anarchy. Incidentally, taxes are the price of a civilized society. Shame we haven't created one yet.

A ship of fools "We" are on indeed...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 28, 11 4:16 PM
As long as we figure on worse, preparedness will rule the day...
Dec 28, 11 7:21 PM appended by Mr. Z
No ****. What I said, wasn't.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 28, 11 7:21 PM
@ Cap:

I won't ever know everything, but I will die trying.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 28, 11 10:52 PM
8 Ball Bunny
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Dec 30, 11 2:00 AM
Any reason why these folks aren't housed in motels in their community?
As to the race issue, the only one to bring it up is our resident uber-liberal Phil. As a classic liberal, he is a true racist, seeing folks as merely members of a group, not as the human beings they are, f'in pitiful, but expected.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 28, 11 5:06 PM
1 member liked this comment
That is a fair question, bigfresh. I dont have a problem with the shelter being implemented, but i'd need to know that the financial burden won't fall strictly on the town (due to the fact that many of the residents will not be from this town) However, I believe that the county will pick up majority of the costs, which is fair. I'd like to know more about the monitary aspects of this project.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 29, 11 1:32 PM
Well phil, can YOU offer a reason why their local communities have turned their backs on them? (you know--what you're claiming that we are doing) If they are from our community I don't think anybody would argue that it is our obligation to support them-- but the problem seems to be that members of our community do not want to be responsible for all of the homeless on long island, simply because their respective towns refuse to. That is, I think, a fair concern. Again phil, can YOU offer a reason ...more
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 30, 11 10:12 AM
I didnt mean to suggest that every homeless person on the island would live here. What I was trying to stress was that some locals are upset because they feel that because local jurisdictions refuse to help these people, the burden will fall almost entirely on them. That is an understandable concern. Why should one township take responsibility for another townships problems, if the latter township has the means with which to fix the problem theirselves? This discussion is, no doubt, going on ...more
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Dec 30, 11 10:46 AM
hungry people, albiet men, women, children, have no color. they have no food, no shelter, no heat, etc. Seems to me that Homeless has no color, no nationality, etc. but they do need help and that should be the reason that all good Americans cover their eyes and come aboard with help through food pantry's etc. The homeless DO NOT want to be in the position they are in especially with children who want for food, warm clothing and basic needs. we all need to pitch in at this very tough time ...more
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Dec 29, 11 7:03 PM
Care to comment on your blatant racism Phil? While most see the homeless as PEOPLE, you see them as a member of a group, why is that?
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Dec 31, 11 8:22 AM
While you are leaving the racism to the tea party, the rainbow coalition is robbing brothers and sisters blind whilst keeping them down. Nubian brothers and sisters of yours can't get ahead under your system, for if they do, no more gravy train. Tea partiers, after they are done cleaning up after themselves, think african americans can achieve just fine without income redistribution, which would continue to create an entire class with their hand out instead of their resume out. your simplistic ...more
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Jan 2, 12 6:31 AM
"What you have stated is the standard talking points that have been used to support the elimination of programs that help the poor and support the strengthening of the middle class."
phil, what YOU have stated are the standard talking points against individual accountability. I'm not saying let's eliminate ALL programs, but some definitely need to be reworked (AND ALL OF THEM NEED TO BE POLICED BETTER FOR ABUSES)
I have an idea, let's give a tax break to the bottom earning half of the ...more
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Jan 2, 12 11:36 AM
You will understand it better when you lose your job and become homeless.
By Bridgehampton (36), Bridgehampton on Jan 1, 12 6:25 PM
Racism = thinking black people or minorities are weak and need special treatment because they are unable to accomplish things on their own. It also includes a continuation of the Master/Servant relationship that you subconsciously desire. It is clear as day. Tea Party doesn't mind giving cash to minorities, they just don't think it is a life or death situation whereby minorities are frozen in time until they get whitey's cash. From the sad but true column, we have you, harping on the sidelines ...more
By Glazed (21), Southampton on Jan 2, 12 6:37 AM
Your double talk regarding race is disengenious at best Phil. Once again, YOU are the one who injected race into this discussion and continue to place people into groups, blatantly racist. In the real world, people are people, not black or white or Latino or Asian or whatever label you care to pin on them. In the world of the lunatic left wing, there are no people, just oppressed groups of victims . Completely delusional. Liberalism is truly a mental disorder.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 2, 12 8:18 AM
Says one of the most-bigoted, myopic, haters posting on this site
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 2, 12 8:33 AM
"The conservatives want the poor to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, but they've stolen their boots"
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 2, 12 11:19 AM
2 members liked this comment
Liberalism may be a mental disorder but conservatism is a disorder of character.
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 2, 12 11:38 AM
Your latest ramblings have proven my point, thanks Phil and Progress. There's no denying that Phil injected race into the argument, classic liberal playing the race card. The Rev. Martin Luther King said it best when he opined that one day men will be judged not by the color of their skin, but on the content of their character. The liberals should take a lesson from this great man.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 3, 12 7:13 AM
bigfresh, when will you heed the words of the man you've quoted?
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Jan 3, 12 8:17 AM
1 member liked this comment
I am admirer of the Rev.and agree with his philosophy of judging people by their character, not by their race. Sorry if that offends you Progressnow. As for your inane assertion Phil, your are grasping at straws.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 4, 12 6:28 AM
philathome, you nailed it!
By witch hazel (224), tatooine on Jan 4, 12 4:44 PM
HAH! Nice one, Phil. I only wish I could have said it first!! LOVE IT!
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Jan 5, 12 8:55 AM
Ladies and gentlemen, meet bigfresh.

Our one and only resident egalitarian!!!

NOT.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 6, 12 9:36 PM
The judgement of my character by two members of the far left wing of the Demokrat Party means nothing to me, have a great day.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 5, 12 8:16 AM
Then why respond at all, Konservative?
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 5, 12 2:48 PM
1 member liked this comment
27east has become the online equivalent of so many park benches in central park. and you nuts above are the kookers who spend all day there arguing about the same thing from sun up to sun down and some how you never tire of it and always think you're going to convince someone of your point of view. Have a nice evening Saul.
By tmarie (30), Southampton on Jan 5, 12 3:58 PM
Yes, and your comment ads so much to the conversation.
By fcmcmann (417), Hampton Bays on Jan 5, 12 5:32 PM
How about a "recall law" for New York State?

Seems only fair that the people who put you there, should have the right to boot your a** out too.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 7, 12 6:28 PM
And, you won't.

Hence, the nature of the above interrogative...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jan 8, 12 12:09 AM
How about this---we should all be responsible for our own health care, is it written the US Constitution that the Federal Government is responsible for providing health insurance? If not they should get out of the business. Personal responsibility to liberals seems to be the same as holy water to a vampire.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 10, 12 7:46 AM
Just as sane, logical, rational thought and compassion are like silver bullets to the Konservative werewolves! Except for you, big freshness, you are more of an Igor, blindly serving your corporate master as he builds his witless monster! Hah! Yeah, baby!
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Jan 10, 12 6:28 PM
Thanks for proving my point that liberals have an inability to see the wisdom of personable responsibility and the survival of their movement is dependant on a permenant undreclass of folks on the dole.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jan 12, 12 8:53 AM
1 member liked this comment
Liberals have a responsibility to be 'personable'? HAH! You are funny, dude!
By razza5351 (551), East Hampton on Jan 12, 12 9:08 AM
1 member liked this comment