Thursday, October 31, 2013

Download the 2013 Winter Drive Poster - you can help keep homeless New Yorkers healthy and warm this winter.

Help keep homeless New Yorkers healthy and warm this winter.

Share the warmth and donate to the Care for the Homeless Winter Drive. Interested in organizing a collection drive? Download the 2013 Winter Drive Poster here or call the Development Office at (212) 366-4459 ext. 202 to learn more.

Thank you for making a difference for homeless individuals and families this winter.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We're homeless, but we're not hopeless.

The Care for the Homeless Speakers’ Bureau presented its first public program to an audience of 20 on Tuesday, October 28th. Fittingly, the topic was health care issues for homeless people in New York City. A number of clients told their stories of living without a home and trying to access health care.

One client leader, Gayle Dorsky, talked about living on the streets and squatting. “I was lucky,” she said, “I found Care for the Homeless.” She spoke about friends who weren’t so lucky. 

“I watched their health decline. Some developed chronic diseases. Some died,” she said.

In addition to several client speakers, the program featured Care for the Homeless Assistant Executive Director Debbian Fletcher-Blake who spoke about health care issues specific to people experiencing homeless in New York City. “A lot remains to be done," she said. Fletcher-Blake said the age adjusted life expectancy for chronically homeless people in New York City is about 50 years. 

“We’re homeless, but we’re not hopeless,” one client said. “We’re trying to turn our lives around, and proper health care is essential. I’m proud of my involvement with Care for the Homeless, where I believe we’re in the second-chance business.”  

Looking for a Speaker for your next event?

Contact the Care for the Homeless Speakers' Bureau.

Organizations, groups, classes or schools interested in having a presentation by the Care for the Homeless Speakers’ Bureau should contact Policy Director Jeff Foreman at (212) 366-4459 or via email at The programs on a variety of issues include presentations by several Care for the Homeless client advocates who talk about their personal stories and connect them to policy issues, along with a Care for the Homeless staff person or Board member.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Volunteer for the Great American Smokeout

Did you know that 20 minutes after you quit smoking, your body begins to heal itself? Volunteer this November and help save lives.

Care for the Homeless is a proud partner of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout campaign. Our slogan is: "Any day is a good day to quit smoking." This November, Care for the Homeless is hosting smoking cessation express workshops to educate and empower clients.

We are now accepting volunteers for the following upcoming workshops:

  • Monday, November 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Brooklyn)
  • Tuesday, November 19 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. (Bronx)
  • Friday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Bronx)
  • Saturday, November 23 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Bronx)
Interested in volunteering to help with these workshops? No advance training required. 2 hour volunteer shifts available.

Sign up online or email Joe Vargas at for more information. 

Help Care for the Homeless share the benefits of quitting with hundreds of homeless New Yorkers this November. You can help save lives. It all starts with just 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Let's Treat Housing as a Health Care Issue

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State did something Care for the Homeless has long advocated. He adopted the public policy that housing is health care.

CFH’s health care professionals, who treat people experiencing homelessness every day, advocate for it. They know it’s not just easier to access treatment when you’re stably housed, but ongoing treatment is always more effective for those who have stable housing.

Studies show age adjusted life expectancy for chronically homeless people is in the 40s and 50s, compared to a national life expectancy of over 80 years. A 2012 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology concluded “homelessness is an independent risk factor for death from specific causes.”

Homelessness itself is a contributing cause of ill health and premature deaths.

Managing treatment on the streets, or even in shelters, is difficult.  Fighting infections with an already compromised or weak immune system in close living conditions or with constant exposure to the elements can be disastrous. Homelessness is an added impediment to properly taking medications, following treatment regimens or keeping medical appointments. Managing diabetes is nearly impossible if you rely on soup kitchens for food. 

For children (there are 22,000+ children sleeping in New York City homeless shelters tonight) the health consequences are often irreversible. In very young children it often manifests as a negative impact on developmental and physical growth. Children who are homeless often exhibit significant delays in developing gross and fine motor skills as well as social skills.  

In older children there’s a negative impact on school performance. They experience a higher drop-out rate.  One study documented a 75% drop-out rate for chronically homeless kids. One-third of homeless children in one study had to repeat at least one grade. Homeless children suffer chronic illness at a much greater rate than peers.

Homeless kids have an 83% chance of having experienced an incident of violence by the age of 12. They are 15% more likely to need mental health care as a result of a trauma than other children exposed to violence.   

Now New York State has adopted a public policy, albeit a tentative one, to do something about it. 

As part of New York’s Medicaid reform (CFH Executive Director Bobby Watts was on the Medicaid Reform Team taskforce that looked at some of these issues) the Cuomo administration set aside a very modest $75 million of health care funds for supportive housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. That’s already translated into financing for a 12-story affordable and supportive housing project under construction on Boston Road in the Morrisania section of the Bronx. 

“The thing we figured out,” according to U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, “is that it’s actually cheaper, not just better for people, but cheaper to solve homelessness than it is to put a band-aid on it. Because at the end of the day it costs, between shelters and emergency rooms and jails, it costs $40,000 a year for a homeless person to be on the streets.”

New York City is known for its high intensity public health campaigns, from anti-smoking to nutrition labeling and the attempt to outlaw large sugary drinks. Last December the Mayor rightly hailed the achievement when New York’s average life expectancy jumped above the national average to 80.9 years. Maybe the next big thing, the biggest potential public health bang for our tax bucks, might be housing the homeless.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My being here is the first step to getting an apartment.

Meet Maria.

A single mom living in a New York City homeless shelter, Maria says: "I'm here because of my kids."

"My being here is the first step to getting an apartment," she continues. "Once I'm back on my feet, I can work on getting my kids back."

Getting back on her feet isn't easy.

For homeless New Yorkers like Maria, finding full-time employment with a living wage is next to impossible. Over 44% of homeless persons are employed. As the New York Times reported on September 17th, having a job, or 2, doesn't mean having a home. (Read our published Letter to the Editor response here.)

"Work is challenging," says Maria. "I get $7.50 an hour, and it's part-time. Right now, I'm limited to 13 hours a week, but soon, I'm hoping to get 25 hours a week. I save 60% of my income right now while I'm in the shelter, but at this rate, it's going to take a long time before I can save enough to move to an apartment."

When she's not at her part-time job, she's out applying for full-time work.

Sitting in front of the Care for the Homeless clinic where she receives care, Maria smiles when asked about her dream job. "I always wanted to be a doctor," she says. "I didn't graduate high school, though. I dropped out in 11th grade, and it's too hard to think about going back right now. Maybe someday."

She turns back to the job hunt and checks her phone for messages. "I'm waiting for phone calls and emails," says Maria. "I'm taking it one day at a time."

You can make a difference for Maria and thousands of men and women who are facing similar challenges. 
  • Sign up to volunteer - help teach a job readiness workshop. 
  • Make a contribution to support Care for the Homeless (click here to give).
  • Become an advocate for solutions to New York City's homelessness crisis.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Today's Read: Care for the Homeless featured in Metro New York Story on Guide for NYC's Next Mayor

As you got on, or off, the subway today you may have seen it in the Metro New York: an article about the coalition of advocates Care for the Homeless helped organize and our efforts to make ending homelessness central issues in this year’s Mayoral campaign. 

If you did you probably noticed the larger, bolder paragraph quoting Care for the Homeless' Executive Director:

                “Poor policy choices helped create modern-day homelessness, 
and better public policy can end it."
 --Bobby Watts, Executive Director of Care for the Homeless

Here’s a link to the whole Metro story:

2013 United to End Homelessness Rally

And this is a link to the United to End Homelessness “Roadmap to End Homelessness” – a
well-researched briefing book on the platform Care for the Homeless and 130 organizations have endorsed to help fight, prevent and over time end homelessness as we know it in New York City.

Friday, October 4, 2013

I hit rock bottom. Care for the Homeless saved my life.

Did you miss Care for the Homeless on AM 1600 WWRL this past Sunday?

Care for the Homeless client leader David Broxton and Policy Director Jeff Foreman were featured on WWRL's Voices of Human Services radio show on Sunday, September 29, 2013.

Invited to discuss our recent successful voter registration drive, David also shared his personal story of he overcome homelessness. "I had hit rock bottom. Care for the Homeless saved my life. Today, I'm living on the corner of good health and happiness."

Did you miss the show? Want to listen to the interview again? Check out the podcast here (interview starts at 33:36). We thank the Human Services Council and AM 1600 WWRL for featuring Care for the Homeless.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

New York: Two Cities? Care for the Homeless in the NYT

Letter to the Editor by Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

New York: Two Cities?

An argument rages about whether New York is "two cities," with half just getting by as income inequality explodes with the arrival of multimillionaires. Who seriously questions our growing poverty or that many struggle just to get by? 

We can combat inequality through investment in affordable housing, including for very low income families, supportive housing for those who need it, and other progressive policies. 
Read the entire Letter to the Editor published October 2, 2013 in the New York Times and the news article that prompted Care for the Homeless' response. [Read more]

For more information on the Care for the Homeless Agenda to End Homeless, visit our web site and subscribe to our monthly Policy Matters newsletter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Safety Net Programs Face Crisis in Washington

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
It might seem like déjà vu but we’re in another fiscal crisis of our own making in Washington. The House and Senate have been unable to agree on at least three major funding items that are critical to the country.

  • First, there’s the budget. In recent years it’s become usual to miss budget deadlines (the new fiscal year started October 1st) but keep the government going by passing temporary “Continuing Resolutions” to continue funding government at current levels until something is agreed to. In today’s hyper-partisan and frequently nonfunctional environment, short term resolutions add little optimism of reaching a real agreement. They just kick the can down the road, and not very far either.
  • Second, the federal government will reach its debt limit, possibly in days but certainly no more than weeks, compounding the problem. The government can’t legally spend more than its debt limit. So reaching the debt limit doesn’t stop debt accumulation, it just stops the government from paying the bill.
  • Third, there’s the ongoing issue of sequestration and cutbacks to critical safety net programs. Even though the federal deficit is declining, fairly quickly, there’s still an argument raging about cutting the national debt. Last year’s dramatic domestic spending sequestration cuts came on top of substantial 2011 cuts.

Funding for affordable housing, low income housing tax credits and grants for health care and other services for homeless people are far below recent years’ levels and way below the actual need.  But there are efforts to cut the safety net even more for the most vulnerable.

The SNAP program is an example. SNAP is current name for what most people call food stamps. There’s no agreement on funding. There are four legislative proposals and none of them are very good.

The Senate passed an agriculture bill cutting SNAP by $3 billion over a decade. The House tried to pass a $20 billion cut, but many members wanted a bigger cut! A third plan removed SNAP from the agriculture bill, but supporters wouldn’t  go along because it might mean no SNAP re-authorization. Finally the House passed a $40 billion SNAP cut.

Take Action

Protect the poor and vulnerable. 
Call your Members of Congress – in the House and Senate – today and urge them to protect SNAP and what’s left of America’s safety net for vulnerable people. 
You can reach your Members of Congress through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
 Please call today!  

These are critical issues to us, but we’d be very interested in knowing what you think about these issues. Please let me know by e-mailing