Pubdate: Sat, 24 Jul 1999
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 1999, New Haven Register
Author: Susan A. Zavadsky


NEW HAVEN -- Six months after a shelter for men recovering from drug
addiction was severely damaged by a broken water pipe, repairs are
unfinished and 26 people are still spending the night at a city homeless

The overnight shelter for clients of the Grant Street Partnership was
damaged when a frozen pipe burst in January, forcing dozens of clients to
stay at the city homeless shelter on Cedar Street.

Operators expected repairs to take about a month. Some parts of the building
were fixed, but major damage to the floor -- including a gaping hole --
hasn't been restored because of an insurance dispute.

Operations Manager Winston Alleyne said he his hopeful the repairs could be
finished in about four weeks because a New Jersey company with a financial
interest in the building recently plunked down $18,000 to fix the floor.

The money came from Breen Capital Services, which does financial management
work for First Union National Bank. First Union owns the part of the
building that houses Grant Street's daytime treatment program. The city owns
the other half, which houses the overnight shelter.

Breen, based in Bordentown, N.J., has an insurance policy that covers the
part of the building First Union owns. The insurance company has not yet
decided whether to pay for renovations to the other part, and the Grant
Street Partnership's insurance company paid for all repairs except the
shelter floor.

Breen decided to intervene.

"As a good faith gesture ... we forwarded the check so they can get back on
their feet," said Mark Childs, who handles Breen's real estate properties in

"We think that the rehab center itself is a wonderful cause. Waiting for the
insurance companies to settle would have been a lengthy process, and it was
in the best interest of everyone to get the rehab center back up and
running," Childs said.

Breen is the same company that drew bitter criticism from taxpayers earlier
this year for using questionable tactics to collect delinquent property
taxes from city homeowners.

Alleyne said Childs "has been very, very supportive. He helped out a lot in
terms of getting this whole thing resolved."

The trouble at the rehab center started on Jan. 3, when about 30 clients and
12 staff were forced out because of extensive water damage.

A pipe had frozen because of extremely cold weather, and when the
temperature rose above freezing it thawed and sent backed-up water flooding
through the sprinkler system, bursting one of the pipes.

The water ruined carpets, collapsed a part of the ceiling, damaged light
fixtures and exposed electrical wires.

Utilities had to be shut off because of the damage, and part of the shelter
floor was so severely damaged it must be replaced.

The total cost of fixing the facility will be about $80,000, Alleyne said.

He said restoring the shelter is crucial for clients who are vulnerable to
relapse if they have to return home at night.

Many live in neighborhoods or homes where drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent.

"There are some people who are strong enough to come every day and go back
home and successfully complete treatment, but those people are in the
minority," Alleyne said.

Others find it harder to resist temptation.

"They leave here and have to walk through the same set of circumstances that
landed them here," he said. "While they're here, they're in a more
controlled environment. They are among people who all have the same problem
and are all seeking recovery."

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