Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Many Homeless People Just Like Those Displaced By Hurricane Sandy

Care for the Homeless client leader Gayle Dorsky, and CFH Policy Director Jeff Foreman, appeared before an emergency hearing of the Council General Welfare Committee on Friday to testify about the plight of Hurricane Sandy evacuees still without stable housing, and the needs of tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers. They spoke up for the Sandy victims still homeless, displaced through no fault of their own. But they also spoke for other people experiencing homelessness.

Client leader Gayle Dorsky
The emergency hearing drew an overflow crowd, many of whom had to watch portions of the hearing by closed-circuit in an adjoin room, as well as ten members of Council, two who weren't even members of that committee. Presided over by Chairwoman Annabel Palma, the four hour meeting included testimony by city Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond, as well advocates like Care for the Homeless and Hurricane Sandy victims, about 196 of whom are facing a May 1st termination of city support that may make them homeless.

“Many of the evacuees,” Foreman said, “were very similar to many New Yorkers caught in homelessness, or on the verge of it. Those at risk of homelessness are typically low-income workers or people with very low income or disabled on a very-low fixed income. Like the Sandy victims, a displacement by natural causes or emergency not completely in their control – like domestic violence, aging out of foster care, illness, divorce, or a thousand other life circumstances – can easily push them over the edge of a risk of homelessness into homelessness itself. Many of the Sandy evacuees may have lost their jobs along with their homes, and their displacements disrupted their social connections and other supports that made their daily existence easier – just like most other homeless people.” 

Gayle Dorsky, who serves on one of CFH’s consumer advisory boards, told Council members about the added heartbreak of becoming homeless when going through already trying difficulties like illness or domestic violence. She asked for help for both Sandy victims and others experiencing homelessness. Foreman and Dorsky gave each member of the Council committee a copy of the Care for the Homeless Policy Agenda to End Homelessness (find it here) and urged them to commit the will and the resources to end homelessness as we know it in New York City by adopting better public policies. You can read the full CFH testimony here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Health Education emphasizes healthy living

Health Educator Kathy Figueroa 

During National Nutrition Month in March, the Care for the Homeless Health Education team encouraged clients to make healthier food choices through a series of tabling events. Healthy snacks, smoothies and fresh juice samples were offered as a means to introduce clients to the various healthy options available. Educational brochures were distributed and individual counseling sessions were offered to the nearly 200 clients who participated.

In addition to be healthy on the inside, Health Educators emphasized being healthy on the outside as well. Personal Hygiene Workshops were designed to emphasize the importance of personal hygiene among teens so they will be able to identify personal hygiene and sanitation practices and the need to improve or maintain them. The team focused on increasing the understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of personal hygiene and sanitation practices and assisted teens in recognizing that the habits of good personal hygiene and sanitation will support good self-esteem. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rooms for Hurricane victims being terminated?

New York City has announced that April 30th (next Tuesday) is the termination date for hotel accommodations that the city has been supplying to hurricane Sandy evacuees who are still without a place to live. Some of the displaced Sandy victims have been without permanent housing since October 25, 2012, when the hurricane first hit New York. The thousands displaced by the storm have dwindled to a few hundred, and the city hopes to place them by next week’s deadline.

On Friday, City Council’s General Welfare Committee will hold an emergency oversight hearing on the end of the city hotel program and permanent housing for remaining Sandy evacuees. The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. in the 16th floor hearing room at City Council’s offices at 250 Broadway in downtown Manhattan near City Hall. We certainly hope they all get placed by Tuesday, but like City Council we’re not confident those that weren't placed in the first 150 days can be in the last seven. We hope the City, and City Council, while they are evaluating our ability to respond to mass dislocation and natural disasters, put this issue in the larger context of our homelessness crisis in New York City. In many ways this problem is our larger homelessness problem.

The still unplaced Sandy victims are largely low-income people, many of whom lost their jobs through the disaster, and now can’t find affordable housing in the city. Just like so many homelessness New Yorkers, and like thousands and thousands at risk of homelessness. Certainly everything that can be done to assist these natural disaster victims should be done, but more importantly it’s important the city begin to adopt policies to ameliorate, prevent and end homelessness.

This is so much sadder because we know how to fight homelessness. Availability of affordable housing for very-low income New Yorkers is a prerequisite to successfully doing that. And this problem, with 57,000 New Yorkers in city shelters and over 3,000 more living rough on the streets, won’t go away until we do develop more affordable housing, more supportive housing and better care and services for homeless New Yorkers. What’s more, better health care for people experiencing homelessness, prioritizing some public housing resources for homeless families, providing a transitional rental subsidy to move people from shelters to permanent housing, and developing affordable and supportive housing, all will cost significantly less over time than what we’re doing now.

We hope that’s part of the message City Council hears at Friday’s emergency hearing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Only 12 days left to help change a homeless child's life!

Be sure to head over to Treasure & Bond in SoHo to vote for Care for the Homeless! We are a semi-finalist this year to be the nonprofit beneficiary of Treasure & Bond, Nordstrom’s Corporate Giving Program. We need you to Get Out & Vote and help Care for the Homeless win!

Visit Treasure & Bond any day in the month of April to vote for CFH.
·        No purchase necessary.
·         You can vote as many times as you want during the month of April.
·         If selected, Care for the Homeless will receive between $15,000 and $30,000 to support our pediatric homeless health care program.

Store hours and directions:
Treasure & Bond
350 West Broadway (between Broome and Grand) – click here for a map
Store Hours:       Monday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m
Sunday, 11 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Voting runs April 1 through April 30. Our goal is 1,000 votes total!

Thank you for your support of Care for the Homeless. Questions? Please don’t hesitate to call or email Dawne Bell at (212) 366-4459 or dbell@cfhnyc.org

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CNN weekend report supports CFH Agenda to end homelessness

Over this last weekend, “CNN Money” ran a feature report it calls “Paying to House NYC’s Homeless,” but it’s really an endorsement of part of the Care for the Homeless Agenda to End Homelessness. Not that they talk about us or our plan - but what they say supports our advocacy for a transitional rental subsidy program to move homeless families and individuals from streets and shelters to permanent housing, because we can’t end homelessness in New York City without it.
CNN reports “New York City used to have a rental assistance program that cost $10,000 a year per family. But that program was cut, and taxpayers now pay more than twice that to house a family in shelter.” In fact, city taxpayers now pay more than three times the cost of the former Advantage rental subsidy to house families in temporary shelters rather than helping people rent permanent housing. And CNN reports the homeless population in the city shelter system has increased 60% in the last decade.
The CNN report included interviews with academics, advocates for homeless people and city officials, all agreeing the transitional subsidy for people experiencing homelessness was a success, incentivized work, helped thousands of families get out of homeless shelters and saved significant public funds. Not to say Advantage was a perfect program: many of us had issues with the amount of the subsidy, the length of eligibility (never over 2 years) and how hard it was to get into Advantage. But no one in the advocacy community ever advocated its elimination with no replacement.
Columbia University Professor Esther Fuchs told CNN the Advantage program “helped a lot of families get out of the shelters, (but) they decided to eliminate it. It’s actually less expensive, over time, to provide people with that kind of rental support than to keep them in what is a very expensive shelter system.”
This underscores our basic point: Bad public and social policy created modern homelessness; better policies can prevent and end it. Take a look at our Care for the Homeless Policy Agenda to End Homelessness, and sign on as a Care for the Homeless Advocate here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"We can end homelessness" - Advocacy in action

The rally brought together more than 200 supporters,
advocating for the rights of homeless men, women &
children in New York City.
As one of the founding organizations, Care for the Homeless helped launch a new advocacy group Tuesday on the steps of New York City Hall. It’s called “United to End Homelessness” and the rally drew more than 200 supporters, according to UEH organizers, promoting solutions to the city’s homelessness crisis and asking that every Mayoral and City Council candidate in 2013 learn about homelessness and take a stand on what policies they’ll support to end it.

The rally at City Hall represents thousands of advocates associated with 119 organizations that have now endorsed the United to End Homelessness platform. As a founder and coordinating committee member for the new, nonpartisan, advocacy coalition, Care for the Homeless was well represented at the rally. One of the 5 featured speakers at the rally was a Care for the Homeless client, Philip J. Malebranche, who told the advocates that “homelessness is a form of incarceration, imprisoning good people who fall on hard times, often through no fault of their own, and robbing people of dignity.”

On the launching of United to End Homelessness, Care for the Homeless Executive Director Bobby Watts said “We can end homelessness. Policy choices that were made resulted in this crisis, and better public and social policy can get us out of it, spare needless human suffering, better serve our communities and save significant tax dollars.”

Care for the Homeless was represented by 14 people, including 6 CFH staffers, 6 clients, 1 Board member and a volunteer. The group is now trying to meet with candidates to give them the UEH platform and talk with them about supporting adequate services for homeless people, more supportive and affordable housing for very-low-income people and investing in programs to prevent homelessness.

That’s what Care for the Homeless advocates for, too.

United to End Homelessness Launch from Coalition for the Homeless on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Serving homeless clients in all areas of health

Case Manager Training Specialist Anisha Perez-Miller
and some of the residents of Willow Avenue Family
Residence who participated in the Fitness/Wellness
 workshop in March.

"For the month of March, the social service team was busy once again conducting a series of workshops in honor of Social Work and Social Service Appreciation month, a total of 6 workshops were held at various sites including at Springfield (2 workshops held on Budgeting for your Health- financial planning), Franklin (stress management), Ali Forney (Stress management), Willow (Fitness/Wellness) and Ward’s Island (Creative Art Expression). Social service team members also co-facilitated workshops with Health Education staff in March including a Teen Violence workshop at Willow and a “Let’s Talk About Sex” workshop at Jackson. Finally, the social service team had a total of 247 visits this month among a total of 177 patients.  

"I continue to be very proud of my team for their continued exceptional work. It’s a clear testament of how the contributions made by the donors help our staff go above and beyond in servicing clients in all areas of health, not just social services."
-Lynette Verges, Director of Social Work

Today is the day to End Homelessness!

Today is the Day for the Rally to End Homelessness

Join United to End Homelessness, sponsored by Care for the Homeless and over 100 other organizations, on the steps of City Hall tomorrow, at our 1pm press conference and rally!

We advise that you arrive by 12:30 PM. in order to get in and clear the security check by the start of the rally. This event is limited to 300 participants. Bring friends and supporters in the fight to prevent and end homelessness!

·         Follow the rally today on twitter #endhomelessness