Last week, the client leaders of Care for the Homeless completed their most successful voter registration drive in their history. They turned 247 completed new voter registration forms in to the New York City Board of Elections and handed out more than 1,250 additional voter registration applications.
The drive by the Care for the Homeless clients included 14 outreach activities at Care for the Homeless sites in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, aimed at homeless or formerly homeless people. It was a nonpartisan effort, not endorsing any candidate or party, but urging everyone to exercise their right to register and vote. Outreach efforts were scheduled at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, drop-in centers and places people experiencing homelessness gather.
“The most exciting thing,” according to longtime Care for the Homeless client leader David Broxton, “is that we registered a number of new voters who thought they weren’t eligible.” He said that happened because “some people without permanent housing think they lose the right to vote if they temporarily live in a shelter, or even on the street, and of course they don’t.” He said it also happens because many people don’t realize people with felony records not currently incarcerated or on parole do have the right to vote.
One new registrant who didn’t know he had the right to vote said “Now I feel like a person again.”
Client leaders who serve on Care for the Homeless client boards, including the CFH Consumer Advisory Board and the HIV-AIDS Advisory Committee, participated in the voter sign up effort. A dozen clients participated. They were assisted by volunteer Eric Wolkwitz, a college student, who contributed dozens of hours over his summer recess to the effort.