Friday, September 27, 2013

Care for the Homeless Graduates First Class of Certified Advocates

Care for the Homeless graduated its first class of “Certified Care for the Homeless Advocates” yesterday (September 26, 2013) following a nine-class training course on policy issues, speaker training and advocacy techniques. This first class of Certified Advocates, comprised entirely of client leaders from the organization, included ten graduates, each of whom has experienced homelessness in New York City.

The graduating Certified Advocates told their personal stories at the event and connected their own story to a particular policy issue for which they are personally advocating. This diverse group of
Members of the Graduating Class
graduates includes blacks and whites, men and women, straight and gay, those currently experiencing homelessness and some who are formerly homeless.

The personal stories included:
  • a Ph.D. former college teacher who lost his eyesight, then his job and finally his home,
  • a man who was sentenced to death at the age of 16 but had his sentence vacated in one of the last cases Justice Thurgood Marshall sat on for lack of due process because he was never certified as an adult,
  • a man currently employed and living in a shelter but not making sufficient income to afford a stable home. 
Others came to homeless through natural disaster, domestic violence, drug and alcohol problems, and inability to find or maintain employment.

The graduates advocate for access to appropriate health care and other human services, for affordable housing for very-low income people, for supportive housing for those who need it, for full funding for the SNAP food stamp program, for reinstatement of a 30% of income rent cap on those with HIV living in HIV-AIDS Support Administration (HASA) housing, for a “housing first” policy, and for better job training and education.

With the completion of the advocacy course, the group will launch a Care for the Homeless Speakers Bureau offering presentations to groups in New York City about policy issues related to services for people experiencing homelessness, affordable housing and what it’s like to be homeless.

The Graduating Class

Members of the Graduating Class on Thursday, September 26, 2013 include: Calvin Alston, Al Arterburn, David Broxton, William Bryant, Ava Connor, Gayle Dorsky, Philip Malebranche, Garret McMahan, Vilna Miller and Anthony Williams.

“We’re excited to talk about how good policy choices can prevent and end homelessness” said Anthony Williams, a graduate and Chairperson of one of the organization’s client leader boards. “If people understand the issues, and hear our stories, it can inform the public discussion on critical issues.”

“This is an opportunity to more effectively educate the public about policies that affect the fight to better deal with, prevent and eventually end homelessness,” Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts said. “I want New Yorkers to hear our clients’ stories of having experienced homelessness, and in many cases overcome it and gone on to make valuable community contributions.”

“We know the best way to influence public opinion on our issues is for the public to meet people and hear their personal experiences, and talk about how we can end homelessness through good public policy,” according to David Broxton, Chairperson of one of the organization's client leader boards and also a graduate of the advocacy class. He said the group’s Speakers Bureau will make presentations to community groups, religious congregations, schools, service clubs and others interested in the discussion.

The Advocacy Certification Training program was led by volunteer Board Policy Committee member Shani Penn, who taught classes in speaker techniques, and Care for the Homeless Policy Director Jeff Foreman, who led classes on the history of homelessness, policy issues and the solutions in the Care for the Homeless “Agenda to End Homelessness.”

“Poor policies got us into this mess, and we believe better public policy can end modern homelessness as we know it,” said Gayle Dorsky, one of the graduates.


How to Request a Speaker

Presentations featuring the Certified Advocates, as well as Care for the Homeless staff and Board members, are available to interested groups by contacting Jeff Foreman in the Policy Office at 212-366-4459, ext. 206 or via email at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our latest Impact Report is out.

With record numbers of people experiencing homelessness in New York City, Care for the Homeless is needed now more than ever. We are humbled by your continued support. Click here to read how your contributions save lives and change lives in our latest Impact Report. 

Highlights include: licensing five new clinics, increasing mental health services for adults and children, rebuilding a new clinic damaged by Hurricane Sandy, advocating for public policy to end homelessness and much more.

Click here to download the 2012 Impact Report. 

Thank you for your generous and continued support of our mission.



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A 50 Year Old Dream ...

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (l-1963, r-2013)

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

America’s celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the iconic Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech. Care for the Homeless was able to take 10 of our client leaders to the anniversary celebration on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

It was an uplifting experience. Now those participants in that historic anniversary are using their reactions to talk about that “Dream” and their dream for America. Two Care for the Homeless client leaders were present for both the 1963 March and the March last month. One of them, David Broxton, said “it might seem we’re still marching for the same things, like good jobs, affordable housing and voting rights, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been progress.”

Bill Bryant, the other client leader who attended both events, was in the military and stationed near Washington in August of 1963. A New York City native, he said he had seen racism and the Jim Crow attitude more in the service from southern soldiers than he ever had growing up, and so “the experience of being in that crowd, black and white together, and the feeling of togetherness” made a lasting impression on him. The anniversary march was very different, Bryant said “but that feeling of togetherness was the same.”

To Philip Malebranche the anniversary underscored that Dr. King’s mission wasn’t just about race. “It was very much about economic problems, like a living wage and jobs, and that’s what Dr. King was working on at his death.”

Garrett McMahon agreed. “It’s about race, but it’s all about class, too.” 

“It was a long walk,” Ava Connor said, meaning both progress on the dream of a society without discrimination and the actual walk last month in Washington. “But I loved every step of it.”

Discussion Series: We're Still Marching

The Care for the Homeless group that participated in the March is presenting a series of discussions this October. Others attending the March included Calvin Alston, Johnny Hernandez, Vilna Miller, Raymond West and Anthony Williams. Care for the Homeless staff at the March included CFH Executive Director Bobby Watts, Michelle Rowland and Jeff Foreman.

Join us for an informal discussion series at Care for the Homeless. If you want to be included, contact CFH Policy Director Jeff Foreman at (212) 366-4459 or         

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Choice: Jails or Homes

Bobby Watts, Executive Director 
Shortly before heading to D.C. for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, I  engaged in an email exchange with the NYC Independent Budget Office. I was sure that a figure in their recently-recently released report was incorrect. But it wasn't a typo - the annualized cost of an inmate in NYC jails is $167,731 per year. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Were you in the 10% who voted in last week's election?

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
One week after the much heralded 2013 New York City primary election and New Yorkers are still waiting for the “final” results. Did Bill deBlasio, who clearly got more votes than any other candidate on the Democratic ballot, garner enough votes to avoid an October 1st run off election?

Here are two facts we do know for sure:
1.      Only about 20% of the eligible registered voters cast a ballot.
2.      There is an October 1 run-off regardless of whether or not there’s one for Mayor.
Fewer than half those eligible to vote have registered. If only 1 in 5 of the registered actually voted, that means only 10% of the people in New York City who could have participated cast a vote. 

The run off already determined is for Public Advocate – ironically the position deBlasio now holds – and it’s between City Councilwoman Letitia James and State Senator Daniel Squadron on the Democratic ballot. Only registered Democrats can participate. 
No citywide position could ever be without significance and this one offers a pretty large bully pulpit. But chances are if it isn’t pared up with a Mayoral runoff (which we may not know for another day or two) there’ll be a turnout far below the poor 20% turn out of last week.

It’s another example why we should all register and vote, and how powerful your vote is

For Care for the Homeless, and our partners in United to End Homelessness, this is another opportunity to raise public awareness about the issues of homelessness, lack of affordable housing for very low-income people and poverty in New York City, and most importantly about the policies and programs that could end homelessness as we know it.   

Email Jeff Foreman at