Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Care for the Homeless a leader in the Fight

To Save Human Service Programs for Homeless and Poor People


Last week Care for the Homeless, and 2.100 other advocacy and provider organizations across the U.S., launched a campaign to fight “sequestration”, the automatic federal funding cuts threatening most human service programs in the coming federal budget. These cuts, set at 8.2% for most domestic discretionary spending, include cuts to health programs, housing assistance, child welfare programs, job training and on and on.

Operating as NDD United (NDD stands for nondefense discretionary) this national effort contacted every U.S. Senator and House of Representatives member emphasizing the critical importance of these human service programs that serve our neediest neighbors, the harmful effects of budget cuts and the need for a strong domestic program as well as defense spending.

The cuts an 8.2% reduction requires would be draconian. It would mean fewer people getting adequate medical care, less mental health care and addiction services availability, more people homeless and even less funding for affordable housing and public housing. Over the long run these cutbacks aren’t just morally wrong, they will actually cost more public resources than they can save.

But if nothing is done to correct it, these across the board cuts of key domestic programs are in the 2016 federal budget. NDD United noted that deficit reduction measures adopted since 2010 have come overwhelmingly from budget cuts, with the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases beyond those recommended by bipartisan groups, academics and experts. The group said “there is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation.” That was at the heart of the 2013 bipartisan agreement led by Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray that at least temporarily provided sequestration relief. But that compromise is no longer in effect in the coming budget.     


If you are concerned about cuts to health care, programs for kids, housing for homeless people and other discretionary domestic programs, now is the time to speak up. These budget decisions are currently being discussed in Congress. You can reach your member of the House or Senate (or find out who they are) toll free through the Congressional Switchboard at 1-877-210-5351.



Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NYC’s Infant Mortality Rate Hits All Time Low “For Most People”

By Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

At Care for the Homeless, New York City’s largest provider of healthcare exclusively to homeless people of all ages, we’re always watching public health statistics and city health policy. So we were pleased to see the city report a new record low infant mortality rate of 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births (for calendar year 2013) – which the city reports is down 24.6% since 2004. New York City’s improved infant mortality rate is well better than the national average, as is New York City’s age average life expectancy both for men and women. Which is great.

But the figures also show a great disparity by race. The mortality rate for black infants is 8.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, more than two-and-a-half times the rate for white infants. The same kin d of disparities exist by neighborhood with the city’s poorest areas (like East New York at 8.4) having far more troubling infant mortality rates than more affluent areas (like Park Slope at 1.9).

Every year, on about the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, Care for the Homeless and advocates for people experiencing homelessness across North America observe Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in part to recognize the incredible health disparities experienced by unstably housed people. Studies show an age adjusted life expectancy for chronically homeless people of between 30 and 40 years lower than for those stably housed.


We celebrate our city’s overall health improvements measured by metrics like a lower infant mortality rate and an annually growing life expectancy. But like city government, our goal is to spread our improving public health outcomes to all New Yorkers regardless of income, class, geography or condition of housing. That’s why our daily mission in 33 health clinics and our mobile health clinic as well as through our street medical teams is to provide high-quality and client centered health care to any New Yorker without stable housing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HOPE Street Homeless Count Postponed – But Homelessness Never Is

In the midst of New York City’s blizzard emergency, of course the city’s Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Count, scheduled for from about midnight until 4 a.m. on Tuesday, January 27, is postponed. Care for the Homeless and our dozen volunteer staff and client leaders signed up to participate will plan to take part in the reschedule HOPE Count when that takes place.

The HOPE count is part of the national HUD point-in-time count of homelessness in the U.S. In fact, the point in time count originated in New York City in the 1990s and has taken place citywide on one night in January continuously since 1995.  It’s an important research and policy tool that Care for the Homeless supports and takes part in.

In the meantime, the severe weather that challenges us all is another stark reminder of the need to prevent, ameliorate and work to end homelessness. Last year’s HOPE count indicated at least 3,357 homeless people were living unsheltered on the streets or in public places in New York City. That, of course, is in addition to the more than 58,000 people sleeping tonight in Department of Homeless Services shelters (the official DHS shelter census for Thursday, January 22, was 58,655 including 24,944 children – but with the snow and bitter cold it will undoubtedly be higher tonight), and the thousands more in non-DHS shelters.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Care for the Homeless Holds Second Speakers’ Bureau Class Where Clients Learn to “Advocate for Themselves”

Care for the Homeless began the Speakers’ Bureau in September 2013 as a program to help homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers tell their stories and advocate for changes in homeless policy in New York City.  From presentations at universities such as Pratt, John Jay and Mt. Saint Vincent in the Bronx, to elementary school classrooms, to advocacy events and city council hearings, our first class of ‘Certified Advocates’ have told their stories to a wide-variety of New Yorkers, sharing the message that we can end homelessness as we know it.

This past weekend January 17th and 18th saw the second course of Speakers’ Bureau applicants, each a CFH client who has experienced homelessness in New York City,  improve their public speaking and learn about housing policies and advocacy techniques. The program is full of dedicated New Yorkers who want to take a part in calling community leaders to greater action in solving the homeless crisis.

The class was taught by Jeff Foreman, CFH Policy Director and Aaron Brown, a professional public speaking instructor who generously volunteered his time and talents to help bring in the next round of CFH ‘Certified Advocates.’ The speakers went through an intensive 12 hour training to learn how to relate their compelling personal stories to policies to advocate for.

“I’m taking what I learned here back to my community because housing is a human right and I want to let people know that we can end homelessness.” said CFH Client George Phipps. The new applicants will practice their new advocacy skills in an upcoming ‘Certified Advocate’ graduation.

Care for the Homeless’ new ‘Certified Advocates’ include:
                                     George Phipps
                                     Monica Sayers
                                     Brenda Turner
                                     Raymond West
   
Presentations featuring the Certified Advocates are available to interested groups by contacting Jeff Foreman in the Policy Office at 212-366-4459, ext. 206 or via email at policy@cfhnyc.org.




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

61st Anniversary – FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

“the right of every family to a decent home”
by Jeff Foreman, Policy Director at Care for the Homeless

Sunday, January 11, marked the 61st anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s renowned
“Second Bill of Rights” Speech, still remembered and celebrated by social justice advocates and those who work for better policies to fight poverty and homelessness.

It’s interesting to recognize that FDR made his famous rights commitment not during the Depression, but at the height of the Second World War. In his State of the Union address that year the President argued it was time to commit to a new set of standards, a “second bill of rights,” that he referred to as an eight point “economic bill of rights”.

Roosevelt included in his plan to assure equality in the pursuit of happiness an enumerated “right of every family to a decent home.” He also included “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health” as well as rights like adequate food and clothing, employment and education.

Roosevelt spoke to a nation that had dramatically recovered economically from the Depression. He told us despite a higher standard of living we can’t be content “…no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people – whether it be one-third, or one-fifth or one-tenth – is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

Those rights remind us at Care for the Homeless of our own mission to provide health care, services and shelter to New York City’s most vulnerable and our commitment to prevent, fight and end homelessness.

Photo by Nancy Ribeck


Friday, January 9, 2015

Did you know...

On Monday, January 5th, Care for the Homeless got together to discuss Mayor de Blasio’s first year in housing policy. The lively conversation covered the Mayor’s housing plan and recently begun LINC programs that issue rental subsidies to help people move from shelter into housing. Get up to speed on NYC housing policy and join the discussion during Care for the Homeless 1st Monday Policy Briefings! Next discussion will be held Mon., February 2nd, 2015 at 5 pm. Want to attend? Send us an email at policy@cfhnyc.org


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

RIP, Mario Cuomo

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

For New Yorkers who lived through the ’80s and cared about helping people in need, the passing of former Governor Mario Cuomo, while not entirely unexpected, was personal.  One of only 5 Empire State Governors who served more than 2 terms in the last 175 years, among them giants of history like Al Smith, Tom Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller, Cuomo loomed large for a generation in the U.S.

The first Governor Cuomo reveled in ideas, words and perhaps ironies. He was a near baseball star who would have traded his political celebrity for baseball stardom. He was thought of as the next-Presidential-hopeful, but couldn't quite convince himself to run. He was famous for a 1984 political convention keynote address he never considered a good speech, that inspires those who hear it today. He died on the day his son, our current governor, was sworn into his second term.

Cuomo’s 1984 speech came at a critical time. It was the Reagan era, well into the process of throwing off a “liberal” political paradigm that dominated policy for generations to adopt a conservative view with a smaller role for government and a less generous social contract. Politics was shifting from fighting poverty and homelessness to cutting spending and stressing personal responsibility.

In that context Cuomo spoke about the needs of vulnerable people, specifically including homeless people, when he responded to President Reagan’s view of the U.S. as “a shining city on a hill.”

“You ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” Cuomo said, speaking to his time, but sounding so to today.

He spoke of people suffering and said “…the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city’s splendor and glory.” Cuomo said, of another part of shining city “… where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one…in this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where glitter doesn't show.” 
     
Speaking to us today from 31 years ago, Mario Cuomo asked us to believe “…a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world’s history…ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute.”