Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Homeless Services Commissioner Diamond Leaves

A Chance for Review, Reflection and New Start
Yesterday (5/28), Seth Diamond, the NYC Commissioner of Homeless Services, announced his resignation to accept a post in the Cuomo administration. Commissioner Diamond led the agency at a particularly trying time and had a reputation for hard work and long hours. But like any changing of the guard, his departure should be both a time to recognize his work and to reflect on policy.
Care for the Homeless believes bad public policy decisions are the cause of modern day homelessness, and better policies can end homelessness as we know. Perhaps the biggest driver of modern homelessness was cuts in federal funding for affordable housing. But New York City can and must lead the way to better policies to prevent and end homelessness.

Consider this:
For decades the City targeted one-third of its federal housing resources – mostly public housing units and Section 8 rental vouchers – to placing homeless people in permanent housing. In 2004, concerned that the housing priority just drew more people into the homeless shelter system, the City ended that targeting anticipating fewer people in the shelter system but the shelter census just increased.
At the time they ended public housing priority for homeless people, New York established a transitional rental subsidy program to move people from shelters to permanent housing. But about 2 years ago, concerned that the subsidy just drew more people into the homeless shelter system, the City eliminated that program anticipating fewer people in the shelter system, but the shelter census just increased.

And consider this: 
Adequate affordable housing for very-low income people, a rental subsidy program for those in homeless shelters and supportive housing for those who need it all promise far better outcomes AND save tax dollars.

We wish Commissioner Diamond well and thank him for his service.  We also hope this will be an opportunity for the Department, and the many talented and deeply concerned policymakers in it, to review, reflect on policy and set a new strategy to end homelessness as we know it in New York City.   



Thursday, May 23, 2013

AIDS Walk Update!

Sunday, Care for the Homeless participated in the annual AIDS Walk NYC through Central Park. Walking with staff, clients and volunteers, we joined more than 30,000 other walkers on the street of Manhattan. We walked to take a stand for the homeless New Yorkers we serve who are dealing with the disease.

Care for the Homeless works with homeless HIV-positive individuals and people living with AIDS everyday.  The importance of HIV education can not be understated, and our Health Education and Social Services teams work diligently to ensure our clients are tested as well as informed on how to stay safe from contracting HIV. Find out more about our HIV services HERE.

For more pictures from our walk, check out our Facebook page and be sure to join us next year in walking and raising money to find a cure.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Can you accept that HIV/AIDS is a death sentence for poor New Yorkers?


Homelessness can be a virtual death sentence for a person living with HIV/AIDS.”
 More Than A Home – How Affordable Housing for New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS Will Prevent Homelessness, Improve Health and Reduce Costs”, Report from VOCAL-NY and the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, May 17, 2013.

A new study released last week by activist group VOCAL-NY and the Urban Justice Center called for limiting the rent-to-income ratio for poor people living with HIV/AIDS to no more than 30%. Those who follow housing issues know they aren’t alone; spending no more than 30% of income on housing is HUD’s definition of affordable housing.

Care for the Homeless clients, staff and volunteers braved
the elements on Sunday to raise the profile on AIDS
issues and raise money for AIDS programs.
But in New York City’s “independent living” rental assistance program for low-income people living with HIV/AIDS, administered by the city HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), some people are forced to pay up to 70% of their disability income in rent. The outcome of that burden is hardly surprising. All too many low-income HIV patients are homeless and thousands and thousands of them are at-risk of homelessness.

That’s not just a statistic at Care for the Homeless. We provide health care and human services to homeless HIV/AIDS patients. Today a CFH client leader, a member of our HIV/AIDS Advisory Committee, is facing eviction as he struggles to stay housed in the HASA rental independent living program.

The newly issued report, based on interviews and focus groups with those in the HASA subsidy program who lost housing, reached four major conclusions.
  • The severe rent burden causes loss of housing.
  • Lack of affordable housing means sacrificing other basic needs. People in the HASA independent living program are budgeted to live on as little as $12 a day after rent! Of those in the program who lost their housing, 65% reported having to choose between housing and other necessities,  47% reported they couldn’t afford food and 48% couldn’t pay for basic transportation like subway fares.
  • Homelessness and housing instability adversely impacted health. Among those in the HASA program losing housing 52% reported visiting an emergency room within six months of entering a shelter and 38% were admitted to a hospital during the same period. Most of them reported difficulty in keeping medical appointments and 47% said they had difficulty in continuing to take medications regularly. That’s why Care for the Homeless says “housing is health care.”



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Take a Stand for a better, 'blessed' New York


Care for the Homeless is pleased to support our partners in the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, Habitat for Humanity and United to End Homelessness, who are sponsoring their annual “Blessed Night Out” program. It’s a program that offers something for anyone concerned about homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in New York City, and invites us all to “take a stand to build the Blessed City together.” 

In 1988, 60 people experiencing homeless encamped in City Hall Park for 200 days calling attention to homelessness in New York City and the need for affordable housing. Those 60 pioneer advocates accomplished what the set out to do: focusing attention and pushing for action. But the need today, with 55,000 people – including about 22,000 children – sleeping daily in city homeless shelters, is even greater than 25 years ago.

The May 30th program includes an Interfaith Gathering for Housing Justice from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Chapel, 209 Broadway, between Vesey and Fulton, followed by a Candlelight Procession from the church to City Hall, where the procession participants will encircle City Hall Park. At 9 p.m. those who are participating will begin an overnight vigil at City Hall Park, sleeping out in the elements as thousands of homeless New Yorkers do every evening. The program ends the next morning, Friday May 31st, with a press conference and policy discussion for faith leaders, partner organizations (like Care for the Homeless), advocates and supporters, people experiencing homelessness and formerly homeless people, and policymakers and public officials.
You can learn more about the events and the history of the program at www.blessednightout.org or the Interfaith Assembly website at www.iahh.org. Please join us and a host of caring advocates and leaders at A blessed Night Out in our fight to ameliorate, prevent and end homelessness and build a better New York City. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Health Educators use movies to talk about alcohol abuse


In April, The Health Education Department focused on Alcohol Awareness, Weight Management and Physical Activity.

Health Educator Gabriela Gonzales
Movies! Movies! Movies! were the method of choice for our Alcohol Awareness Campaign for both teens and adults. Health Educator Gabriela Gonzales screened “The Social Network” with her teen groups, encouraging discussion about responsible use of alcohol. At Susan’s Place, clients were treated to a 4 part movie series beginning with the movie “Flight." Care for the Homeless’ substance abuse counselor joined the Health Education team in leading discussion on alcohol and other substance
use, abuse and recovery.

At Susan’s Place and Peter Jay Sharp Center for Opportunity, the Health Educators got clients moving! The women of Susan’s Place were split into two groups, slow walkers and fast walkers. Each individual was given a pedometer and encouraged to walk in “The Tortoise vs. the Hare Walking Competition”. Each individual’s and group’s steps were tracked over a three week period. Who do you think won the race?

At Peter Jay, “The Biggest Loser” competition began. This ongoing promotion offers the clients weekly counseling sessions on weight management along with weekly weigh-ins. The goal? Educate clients on ways to drop unwanted weight in a healthy way that can b
e maintained for a lifetime and support their effort.

As always, The Health Education Team provided free HIV testing services to both our clients and members of the community. 112 tests were performed in April.

-Gillian Saunders, CFH Health Educator

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Want to get involved? Here's your chance.


Care for the Homeless is co-sponsoring one of City Limits “Tackling Poverty Discussion Series,” about homelessness, shelters and the community. It’s free, but you have to RSVP in advance (see below). Collaborators in the event, in addition to Care for the Homeless, include BronxWorks, Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness (ICPH), and the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. The program is scheduled for Thursday, May 16, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., and will be followed by a free networking reception celebrating the launch of City Limits’ Bronx Bureau. Both the forum and reception will be held at the Bronx Museum of the Arts located at 1040 Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

The event program will include comments by Scott Auwarter of BronxWorks, Ralph da Costa Nunez of the ICP, Robin Hood Foundation Managing Director Eric Weingartner and Camella Pinkney-Price of the Bronx Borough President’s office. City Limits Editor Jarrett Murphy is moderating the program. The program can include you, too, because there will be time for audience questions and answers.

If you want to attend, you must RSVP at The City Limits website, here.  

In addition to cosponsoring the event, Care for the Homeless will have a table set up at the event. If you’re going to the “Tackling Homelessness” event, please stop by and talk with us at the table. You can sign up for our free policy e-newsletter, become a Care for the Homeless Advocate and get a copy of our CFH Agenda to End Homelessness.   

If you’re interested in volunteering to help out at the Care for the Homeless table at the May 16th event, contact Policy Director Jeff Foreman at jforeman@cfhnyc.org.