Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Every 3.5 minutes, Care for the Homeless transforms a life


Photos by: (clockwise, l-r) Harvey Wang, Nancy Ribeck, Harvey Wang, Nancy Ribeck, Nancy Ribeck
In less than 3 minutes, you too can change a life by donating to our End of Year fundraising campaign on Crowdrise

Six-year old Jake's medical record includes something that may seem unusual: a copy of his most-improved student award. 

When his dad first came to the Care for the Homeless clinic frustrated and concerned about his son's hyperactive behavior, Jake was failing kindergarten. After his parents lost their jobs, the family fell on hard times and lost their apartment.  

Jake's family has joined a group of more than 60,000 New Yorkers experiencing homeless every night. Unfortunately, his experience is not unique. Families like Jakes' now spend more than 435 days living in NYC homeless shelter before they can find affordable housing. 

Your gift makes life-changing care for Jake and his parents possible. Donate Now. Every $25, 50 or $75 donated to this Crowdrise campaign will be matched by a very generous donor.  

Your investment in health today, will help end homelessness tomorrow. On behalf of 8,000 homeless men, women and children we serve, THANK YOU.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Still Unmet Promise of Universal Basic Human Rights

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

Tomorrow, December 10th, is Human Rights Day. It marks the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Care for the Homeless joins in recognizing the fundamental human rights proclaimed in that document in 1948 including the right to housing.
When the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it was a vow by the community of nations still standing in the shadow of the horrors of World War II. It was drafted initially by an 18 member international “Drafting” Committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and eventually by a committee composed of delegations from 50 nations. When it was overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, eight nations abstained but not a single country voted in opposition.

The Declaration is based on the inherent dignity and equality of all people and the “inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. Among those fundamental human rights enumerated, the Declaration recognizes: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Today that fundamental human right to food, clothing, housing, medical care, social services and security are still a daily struggle for nearly 59,000 New Yorkers who will sleep in city homeless shelters tonight, and more than 3,000 who sleep rough on the streets on any given day. More than 4 out of ten of our neighbors experiencing homelessness in shelters or on the streets are children.
Even as we celebrate the commitment and positive actions taken by the Mayor and City Council to prevent and fight homelessness, CFH will pause tomorrow to recognize how much more we need to do. We believe modern day homelessness in the U.S. and New York City was created by public policy choices and that better policies can end it. Please join with us in advocating for those policies we know can work to prevent, fight and end homelessness as we know it.

And as we fight for those fundamental values officially adopted out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Care for the Homeless will continue providing critical medical and social services to many thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.       

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Care for the Homeless Observes World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1st, client leaders of Care for the Homeless (CFH) observed World AIDS Day at the CFH offices at 30 E. 33rd Street in Manhattan. Members of the CFH Consumer Advisory Boards led presentations and discussions about services for people living with AIDS/HIV, current medical programs and advances and the New York State strategy to end the AIDS epidemic in the state by 2020.

Clients, CFH staff and others in attendance heard presentations for consumer leaders including
Calvin Alston, Gayle Dorsky and George Phipps. They lauded efforts announced by Governor Cuomo to end the AIDS epidemic – which he has defined as reducing new cases to the point where there is no net increase in AIDS cases in the state annually – by 2020.

“That’s a lot of ground to cover in the next five or six years,” according to Alston, “but the Governor and the AIDS Task Force have developed a workable three part plan to do just that.”

“As part of the Governor’s plan, advocates and activists like those of us who are client leaders are responsible for raising awareness and educating people about what needs to be done,” Ms. Dorsky said. “And along with promoting AIDS health education we need to work at reducing the stigma for people living with AIDS.”

The two CFH consumer boards are made up of leaders who are CFH patients receiving medical or social services at CFH locations across four of the five city boroughs. The boards provide feed-back and consumer input about CFH operations, organize and run various activities throughout the year including events like the World AIDS Day observance and voter registration drives, and advocate for public policies to prevent, fight and end homelessness.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Join Us. Remember. Advocate.

Care of the Homeless Remembers Lost Neighbors


“I couldn’t believe it, when I first heard” CFH Client Leader Raymond West, said of the death of Miguel Durcio, the Bronx man who was attacked while sleeping on the steps of a church, simply because he was homeless. “He was only sleeping on the church steps because he thought he would be safe there.” Mr. Durio is gone but not forgotten- Care for the Homeless will remember his life and honor his memory on December 18th, at 5:30 p.m., on Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a national day of memorial for people who tragically passed away while unstably housed. Held with the NYC Rescue Mission at their 90 Lafayette Street location, our Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day program will feature a candle light memorial, a meal for those who are hungry, and a chance for attendees to remember friends on our Memorial Wall.

People experiencing homelessness have terrible health outcomes compared to the housed population, with an age adjusted life expectancy of 30 to 40 years less than the general population. At Care for the Homeless we know people who are homeless not only suffer from a disproportionate number of violent attacks, but that all health problems are made much, much worse while a person doesn’t have a stable place to stay.

“Homelessness is a public health crisis just as much as tuberculosis, polio, and so many other historic epidemics that America has challenged and largely defeated.” CFH Executive Director Bobby Watts has said, “And just as appropriate responses tamed those maladies, we could, if we addressed homelessness and brought adequate responses to bear against it, solve this tragic health epidemic and social failure, too.”

On Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, we remember New Yorkers who might otherwise not be remembered and advocate for better policy to help prevent and end homelessness. We know we can end modern day homelessness and look forward to the day when there won’t be a need for Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day. Please join us on December 18th to help remember and advocate. The event is free and open to all. If you would like to offer names to be remembered during the program or rsvp to the event, please contact CFH Policy Director, Jeff Foreman, at 212.366.4459 or by email at jforeman@cfhnyc.org.



Homeless Persons' Memorial Day
Thursday, December 18, 2014
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

NYC Rescue Mission
90 Lafayette Street (at White Street)
New York, NY 10013
SUBWAY: 4, 6, J, N, R, Z (Canal St)

Click here to rsvp.




Program to feature music, memorial and a meal. 
We invite you to pay tribute to our lost friends 
who experienced homelessness on our "Wall of Memorial." 
Free and open to the public. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

From Shelter to Affordable Housing: A GREAT FIRST STEP!

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

NYC’s New Rental Programs to Transition Families Experiencing Homelessness

Last year Bill de Blasio famously campaigned successfully to become Mayor of New York City on the “Tale of Two Cities.” He spoke about the tragedy of low income people unable to get by or even find barely affordable housing in the U.S.’s biggest city. He promised, and along with City Council is now delivering, programs created to provide affordable housing and to address the expanding crisis of homelessness in our city.

In addition to more and better programs to prevent evictions and homelessness (the best solution to homelessness is always prevention), the City has launched programs including priority targeting of a small number of NYCHA public housing units to families in the city homeless shelter system and three rental programs to provide partial subsidies to a modest number of homeless families in city homeless or domestic violence shelters if they can find a low rent apartment to accept the subsidy. Of course we wish each of the programs could be larger and open to more people, but we are grateful and celebrate these great first steps.

One concern we do have, and no doubt city policymakers share, is the difficulty many of the eligible and chosen families now in shelter will have in finding an appropriate and affordable housing unit even with the city’s subsidy “certificate.” The way it work is those who get the certificate letter have 90 days to use it to find housing.

But there still won’t be enough units to go around. Too many families experiencing homelessness and in shelter will find even with their certificate they may still be unable to obtain housing. A recent Community Services Society study found a need (demand) for well over a million units affordable to people with incomes below 200% of poverty, but a supply of only 609,700 units and falling.

We see and live this problem every day because Care for the Homeless serves dozens of people experiencing homelessness every day who are desperately seeking housing and cannot find it. That’s one reason the average length of stay at city homeless shelters is now over 14 months.

It’s also a reason Care for the Homeless continues to advocate for programs to adequately serve homeless people, tools to help people move from shelter to permanent housing and a greater supply of housing affordable to extremely low income families and individuals so those tools can work effectively.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

HUD Reports 1 in 10 People Experiencing Homelessness in U.S. Is Living in NYC

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released its “2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress” estimating 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness either on the streets or in shelters on a given night in January, 2014. The information wasn’t surprising or really new, but it underscores the need to prevent, fight and end homelessness in New York City.

New HUD Secretary Julian Castro pointed out the report indicates a reduction in homelessness across the U.S. of 10% since January of 2010. Unfortunately New York City hasn’t fared as well.

The HUD report estimates 80,590 people experiencing homelessness in the Empire State on that January evening – about 13% of the entire national estimate – representing a 4.1% year-over-year increase and a 28.7% increase over the last seven years.  HUD reported 67,810 people experiencing homelessness just in New York City, meaning more than 1 in every 10 person experiencing homelessness on HUD’s census night was in our city. That’s a 6% increase in New York City from HUD’s 2013 estimate.

One encouraging thing for New York City was HUD’s finding that we had among the lowest rates of “unsheltered homeless people” at 5%, so that 19 of every 20 homeless people in New York City aren’t living unsheltered on the streets or in other public places.

CFH believes poor policies created modern day homelessness and better policy choices can help end it. Though homelessness continues to grow in New York City (up about 9% so far in 2014), we celebrate programs launched by the city administration and City Council to fight that trend. We won’t see much statistical improvement until these programs have the opportunity to get up and running, but here are five great first steps the city has launched:
  1. The Mayor and City Council increased city anti-eviction and homelessness prevention programs (the best way to fight homelessness is to prevent it) by 50%.
  2. The city reinstated NYCHA’s historic priority of a small number of newly available public housing units targeted to people in homeless shelter.
  3. The city launched three separate “Living in the Communities” (LINC) programs estimated to eventually provide rental subsidy “certificate letters” to about 3,000 households. The programs are targeted to 1. ) homeless families with children in family shelter with a working adult; 2.) homeless families in shelter the longest with either earned or unearned income; and, 3.) households in either Domestic Violence or homeless shelters affected by domestic violence.

There’s a need to do more - that’s clear from the HUD report and our record DHS Shelter Census – but this is a real start. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Today, November 4th, Is Election Day. Please Vote!

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

Care for the Homeless client leaders, including members of our Consumer Advisory Board, recently completed a nonpartisan Voter Registration Drive that signed up 254 new voters, all eligible to vote tomorrow. That’s a CFH Voter Registration record. It breaks last year’s record setting drive success.
Our client leaders have the satisfaction of having helped people to register and some great memories from the effort. They registered people with past criminal records who didn’t know they had the right to vote. In New York anyone not currently incarcerated for a felony or on active parole (people on probation have the right to vote) has the right to vote.

They also registered people who were homeless and thought not having a regular permanent fixed address meant they couldn’t register. But being poor or homeless certainly doesn’t mean you lose your right to vote.

At Care for the Homeless we believe poor policy choices helped create the evil that is modern day homelessness and better policies can help to end it. Today – Election Day – each of us who is registered to vote has the opportunity to help determine who gets to set public policy going forward.

Journalists and commentators are predicting very low turnout for this year’s election.  That’s a shame because we’ll be voting for the state legislators, members of Congress and statewide officials who very much affect our lives and those of our families and clients.

Please take the opportunity to cast your vote and participate in democracy today. Regardless of who you vote for, everyone should cherish and exercise their right to vote their own values and have a say in our government and policies.

And if you aren’t registered but would be eligible to register to vote, contact our Policy Office at policy@cfhnyc.org anytime for assistance in getting registered.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Wise Investment to Protect Human Services

Bobby Watts, Executive Director 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that his agencies would hold spending at current levels despite a record budget surplus. But by refusing to spend on programs that both create jobs and help the most vulnerable amongst us, he misses an opportunity to grow the economy and help our communities.
My organization, which employs over 100 staff members, is emblematic of what the governor could do if he invested a small percentage of the surplus into groups like ours. We fight homelessness—and provide good jobs for New Yorkers.
Homelessness in New York City has reached a tipping point, and we’re on the front lines of a crisis. There are over 57,000 people sleeping in city shelters nightly, 24,700 of those being children, and shelters can no longer meet the demands. The average length of stay in a homeless shelter is now longer than a year. Unfortunately, because of state budget cuts, human services agencies that aid the city’s homeless population are forced to do more with fewer resources.
Care for the Homeless fights homelessness by delivering high-quality, client-centered health care and shelter to homeless individuals and families, and by advocating for policies to ameliorate, prevent and end homelessness. Our physicians, nurse practitioners, health educators, housing specialists, case managers and social workers are providing critical community-based services to more than 8,000 homeless men, women and children throughout New York City.
We are part of a sector of the economy that employs 15 percent of the state’s workforce, and workers are overwhelmingly women and people of color. Currently, 80 percent of the human services workforce is female and 80 percent of those are nonwhite. In New York City, four out of five health care and social service sector workers are Black, Latina or Asian.
Unfortunately, human services organizations like Care for the Homeless are operating in a reality that sees more people seeking services but are forced to make tough choices to provide them. Human service organizations are relying more on private funds and individual donations. While the generosity is tremendously appreciated, it is not sustainable because government funding has been cut.
But there is a solution. With a $4 billion budget surplus, the state has the monetary resources to put the human services sector on a path to financial stability and save an industry that employs thousands of people of color and provides programs that help African-American families throughout New York. Now is the right time for Cuomo to make a $354 million investment in the human services sector and include this in his executive budget.
For us, that would mean we can continue to provide over 30,000 health care visits to homeless men, women and children annually. For almost 30 years, Care for the Homeless has brought high quality health care services directly to homeless people on their own turf, and we want to continue to do this as long as our services are needed.
It is time that the governor faces the economic reality in this state and realizes that more people are hurting than he would like to believe.
Organizations cannot continue to operate in a flat-funded environment. We keep the fabric of the state strong and help catch those who stumble. Without this investment, who will catch the human services sector when it falls?
G. Robert Watts is the executive director of Care for the Homeless.

Originally published on October 30, 2014 by New York Amsterdam News. Read more.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Care for the Homeless Takes Part in Community Forum on Creating Livable Communities for All

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
Care for the Homeless was delighted to be included last week in a half-day roundtable discussion sponsored by Governing Magazine about “Creating Livable Communities” with about 30 of New York City’s leading policymakers, advocates, business people, union officials, academics and  elected officials. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito began the forum with a review of city concerns and programs. Other participants included the Partnership for New York City, AARP, the New York Housing Conference, the New York Public Library, and business, educational, transportation, healthcare, technology and public safety representatives.

Other elected policy makers present included City Council Members Margaret Chin and Paul Vallone, representatives of several Borough Presidents and various state and city government offices including the city Department of Homeless Services.

Governing Magazine has sponsored more than a dozen of these discussions “from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon” in an effort to start a meaningful dialogue on vital issues in communities across the country.

New York City is a leader in city planning and addressing important community issues, but certainly there’s much more to be done and the conversation must continue. At Care for the Homeless we’re pleased to be in that discussion.

We both recognize and celebrate the outstanding efforts the city administration and the current City Council are making to provide services to underserved communities and the programs now being launched to provide stable housing to people experiencing homelessness in New York City, as well as more aggressive efforts to create more affordable housing generally.

We also know more must be done. Providing accessible and appropriate healthcare and human services to all homeless people is the right thing to do, produces far better outcomes and actually saves public resources. The same is true of transitioning people from shelters to permanent housing including supportive housing for those who need it. As we address these issues we must be mindful of scaling these new programs at significant enough size to actually solve the problem, opening subsidies and housing to all those who so desperately need it, combining programs with robust aftercare and supports designed to allow participants to be successful and creating procedures and program administration that are efficient and effective. That’s part of our contribution to this ongoing discussion.

Our thanks to Governing Magazine, AARP, Speaker Mark-Viverito and all involved for this wonderful opportunity to participate in a valuable and needed process focused on creating livable communities for everyone.     

Friday, October 17, 2014

Debra Messing teams up with Care for the Homeless to help homeless families


Care for the Homeless teamed up with actress Debra Messing, Curél®  skincare and Direct Relief to provide 500 personal care packs filled with basic hygiene supplies and skincare products to help homeless families in need at our health fair Tuesday in East Harlem.

Award-winning actress Debra Messing delivers care packages to homeless 
families at a Care for the Homeless Health Fair in Harlem.
Debra Messing visits distributes care packages to homeless families.
Curél® skincare sponsored the initiative to offer comfort to some of the most vulnerable women and children of New York City. Direct Relief, a generous supporter of Care for the Homeless since the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, helped launch our new Mobile Health Clinic, which allows us to deliver medical care to homeless people in need on a regular basis and also boosts our capacity to respond to future emergencies. 

The assistance comes at a critical time. "Homelessness is going down nationwide, but it's going up 40 percent in New York City," said Debra Messing.

The Care for the Homeless Health Fair featured fun activities,
like face painting.
“The homelessness crisis has hit NYC families especially hard. The numbers are staggering, with over 23,000 children sleeping in city shelters every night,” said Bobby Watts, Executive Director at Care for the Homeless. “Children experiencing homelessness are sick four times more often than other children. This donation comes at a critical time, helping us reach families most in need.”

Care for the Homeless is especially thankful for Ms. Messing's support and the generous sponsorship of Direct Relief and Curél® skincare. Since 2013, Direct Relief has invested over $100,000 in cash grants and donations of medicines and medical supplies to Care for the Homeless to advance our mission in NYC. 

Dozens of volunteers helped with the day's event. We especially want to thank Chubb Insurance and the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and the NYU School of Nursing. More photos from the day appear below.


Watch Debra discuss the event on Fox News at the clip below (from 3:22 to 4:35).




More Photos from the Day:

Volunteers from Chubb Insurance assembling care packages.

Volunteers painting faces with families at the Health Fair.

Moms visit with Care for the Homeless Health Educators.

Volunteers from NYU Nursing School - a huge help during the event.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Hostile Laws, Hateful Acts Bolster Stigma Against Homeless

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
They call it the "poor door." It's a classic example of stigmatizing poverty. So much so it riled up New Yorkers this summer, and people are still talking about it.
A Manhattan developer created a separate entrance for the 55 nonmarket "affordable housing" tenants in his 33-story, waterfront, luxury high-rise – hence, the "poor door." Most people may not have been aware of it, but this is hardly the first luxury development in the City providing affordable units through a poor door.
Ugly demonstrations in Queens' Elmhurst neighborhood over a new homeless shelter at the previously vacant Pan American Hotel came replete with angry confrontations between community residents and children housed at the family shelter; name-calling and crowds grew so daunting officials interceded to take the homeless kids to a movie to keep them away from another protest. While it made for compelling summer TV viewing, it was just part of a growing trend of stigmatizing poverty, criminalizing homelessness and increasing attacks on vulnerable homeless people in New York and throughout the country.Segregation by door, of course, isn't just offensive because of the obvious odor of stigma it brings to the "lesser" tenants; it also guarantees those segregated tenants get lesser services. Most people, including some destined for the not-poor door entrance, were not amused. But stigmatizing and dehumanizing poor people is not new, and it's not always so odious to the neighbors.
The Big Apple's media had loads of opportunities this year to feature stories like the tragedy of Jerome Murdough, an emotionally disturbed street homeless man in Manhattan, arrested for trespassing, to wit sleeping in a public stairwell. He was taken not to get mental health services but to a Rikers Island jail. Murdough's mental condition quickly led to his placement in a solitary confinement and undoubtedly was the primary reason his shouts of distress were ignored as he literally baked to death in his defectively ventilated cell. And there was the scratchy street surveillance camera footage of a Bronx homeless man stomped to death for no apparent reason by teenagers as he slept on a church stoop.
Over the summer city police and MTA outreach workers conducted operations to remove homeless all-night riders or sleepers from the subways. The MTA, not unreasonably, views it as a business and customer service issue, but the outcome is often an arrest for a minor offense like lying down, taking up more than one seat or turnstile jumping.
The issue isn't just criminalizing the behavior. It's also that the outcome, an arrest, in no way addresses the real problem of homelessness and possibly a need for services often including mental health services.
It's not just a plague of stigmatization or criminalizing poverty in New York. In Monterey and Santa Cruz, California, and in other cities and towns across America, local governments have been enacting ordinances making normal activities like sitting, lying down, eating, giving food to others or even standing still in some public places a crime. That's despite the fact that numerous courts across the country have repeatedly ruled these laws against necessary "life-sustaining" activities unconstitutional.
Perhaps more troubling is the routine unequal enforcement of laws for the purpose of moving along or removing homeless people. A formerly homeless man recently told me about his experience of peacefully sitting on a bench in a New York City public park where he was rousted for no specific reason even as others sat nearby without being so much as talked with. The man's explanation? "I looked homeless and they didn't. It was a family park. They didn't want someone who looked homeless there."
He said the police officer actually told him which nearby park was "the poor park." If he was shown out of the park because he looked poor or homeless, then his crime was poverty itself.
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, which tracks "criminalization" of poverty and homelessness, reports a dramatic increase in criminalizing sleeping in vehicles, lying down in parks, feeding people in public places and "loitering, loafing and vagrancy." Earlier this year the UN Human Rights Committee publicly rebuked these kinds of policies noting "criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment."
It's all too easy to stigmatize vulnerable populations like homeless people and to criminalize being homeless. But it does nothing to solve homelessness. Displacing homeless people from commercial areas to less traveled spots, moving them from a "better" neighborhood to a poorer one or making them less visible near high-profile venues hosting major sporting or public events isn't just the wrong thing to do; it adds to the blame-the-victim mentality that incites even more venomous attitudes towards those in need.
So it should hardly be surprising that the down and out living rough on American streets are increasingly targets of senseless violence. A National Coalition for the Homeless study of hate crimes perpetrated against homeless people documented a 24 percent increase in violent attacks in one year, all believed to be motivated primarily by the perpetrator's bias. They reported the attacks are becoming more brutal than ever. A National Health Care for the Homeless project found homeless people 25 times more likely to be victims of attacks than the general population.
It's heartbreaking to think about these violent attacks. It's obviously irrational to attack a homeless person to take their money. The perpetrators—and they are almost always teen-aged boys or very young men—usually are unable to give a reason for the attacks or say they did it just because their victims were such easy targets. But the real predicate for attacks on homeless people because they are homeless is that they have been diminished, dehumanized and stigmatized.
Rather than "solving" homelessness by policing homeless people out of sight, a not inexpensive proposition in itself, homeless advocates argue the right, and cheaper, thing to do would be to provide adequate services and housing. In New York it costs about $3,000 a month to house residents in shelters, but far less to provide housing subsidies for stable housing. A study often cited by former HUD secretary and now White House budget chief Shaun Donovan reports street homeless people cost about $40,000 annually, primarily in emergency room visits, avoidable hospitalizations and expensive interactions with the mental health, law enforcement and corrections systems.

Providing a robust housing alternative to homelessness is not inexpensive, but it's far less costly than what we're doing now in not solving the problem. It also promises an opportunity to better lives and lessen the stigma people without homes bear every day.
This article originally appeared in City Limits, published on September 12, 2014. Read more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top 5 Reasons Why We Love You

Yes, ALL of you
Donors like you make our work possible. This month, we wanted to say a special note of thanks, and then, we realized we had more than one thing to say. 

Here are the top 5 reasons why we love you: 

5.  Your support is critical, funding program expansions like our new Mobile Health Clinic  

4. You inspire others to give, volunteer, and advocate. 

3. You are passionate about transforming the lives of homeless families   

2. The impact of your support is felt in your communities 

1. You give more than money; you provide hope to more than 8,000 homeless men, women, and children.


Photo by Nancy Ribeck


Thank you for making our work possible.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Political Courage and Homelessness in New York City

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

Few things in life are rarer than real political courage.

How often do you find political leaders, particularly elected officials longing to stay elected, standing up for locally unpopular issues at the height of their controversy? This is the province of unique experience, strange curiosity and genuine oddity.

Yet at a time of dramatically increasing stigmatization of poor and especially homeless people, particularly in New York City’s Queens Borough where several new homeless shelters have or are scheduled to open, New Yorkers have been treated to an extraordinary show of bravery from political leaders speaking out for what is unpopular among their electorate seemingly just because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s about as quirky as the Big Apple itself.

In July, the City’s Department of Homeless Services opened a family homeless shelter in the defunct former Pan American Hotel in Queen’s Elmhurst neighborhood. It opened on an emergency basis, meaning without the normal requirements for review, public notice and community input.  The emergency occurred because the City is required to provide shelter by court order, but increasing homelessness – especially among families – resulted in there being no more room at bursting-at-the-seams city shelters.

The emergency allowed for speed in opening the new facility, which promptly filled and then overflowed with homeless people, but it most assuredly didn’t avoid the generally expected response of “Not-In-My-Backyard” protests. For weeks, residents and community groups in the heavily immigrant neighborhood held demonstrations regularly.  Sometimes it got ugly, including scenes on TV of locals screaming at shelter residents – including teenagers and younger children – name-calling, and alarmingly threatening crowds.

Then a remarkable thing happened.

Elmhurst’s City Council Member, came to the shelter  and publicly handed backpacks out to the kids as part of a back to school drive. A former school teacher, Dromm talked about the children’s education and offered shelter residents encouragement. He did this in public, in his own district, where there was charged opposition to the shelter.

That’s a profile in courage.

Shortly thereafter, the City Council’s Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents an adjoining, mostly middle class Queens district, wrote an article in the Daily News about his own family’s experience with poverty and homelessness.  His was an all too common story—a lost job, his family wearing out its welcome in the homes of extended family, and then living at an “awful place”—a city shelter circa 1970. It was a story most people who knew or voted for the Councilman had never heard.

Van Bramer succeeded in putting a face on homelessness. He captured many readers, if only briefly, in the realization that the next homeless family might be very much like their neighbors, their relatives, or perhaps even their own family.

“As the city declares war on inequality and Mayor de Blasio rightly takes a humane and honest approach to ending homelessness, we must all be part of the solution,” Van Bramer wrote. “All human beings have a right to shelter. Some may say that’s feel-good liberalism run amok, but in the City of New York, it happens to be the law. We must house our homeless and that means finding places for families like mine to live and begin again.”

Telling his story, at that particular moment, is another profile in political courage.

In these times, when poverty and homelessness are so stigmatized, it’s inspirational to see these acts of courageous leadership. As Van Bramer writes, it’s not just about providing the resources to support these programs, it’s about providing “a little bit of hope.”

Learn more about homelessness in New York City in Jeff Foreman's article, originally published on September 11, 2014 by TalkPoverty.org. Read more.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Health Empowered Beauty Fashion Show Draws Sold-Out Crowd

Care for the Homeless Kicks Off NYC Fashion Week

Billed as the only fashion show during NYC Fashion Week that changed the lives of homeless women--the event featured residents of Susan's Place, our 200-bed shelter for homeless women in the Bronx, as models. The sold-out crowd gave several standing ovations during the event, which raised more than $8,000 for Susan's Place. 

One of the models, Lizette, talked about the struggles she's overcome in her own life, sharing: "A couple of years ago, I never would have had the self-confidence to do something like this."

Since opening the shelter in 2008, over 900 women have moved out of Susan's Place and into permanent housing. Less than 8% become homeless again.

Photos by Redens Desrosiers

View photos from the September 4th Fashion Show in our online Photo Album here.

Looking for more information about the incredible designers who generously sponsored the Fashion Show
Follow the links below to learn more about the clothing lines.

Learn more about Head Stylist and the Traveling Trousseau here.

Many thanks to all our Sponsors:





Thanks to our generous supporters, Care for the Homeless is changing lives every day. We're on the front lines of a crisis. Over 60,000 men, women and children are homeless every night in NYC. Your contributions provide critical services to the most vulnerable, at a time when they need our help the most.

From all of us at Care for the Homeless, thank you.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Basic Algebra @ Care for the Homeless

Your Partnership + Care for the Homeless = Success!

30,000+ school supplies were donated to our Back to School Drive, not only did you fill a back pack but you filled a high need! 

There are over 80,000 homeless school children in New York City, and thanks to you they are prepared for the 2014-2015 academic year. 

A very, very special thanks goes out to the employees at West Side Foods for donating 22 boxes of school supplies, 4 Kids in Need for a fun back to school event, the Institute for Family Health for their continuous partnership, and YOU our extraordinary supporters! 

We are HONORED to count all of you among our generous sponsors, see you next year! 




See more photos of our Back to School Drive supporters and the children after the jump.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Here’s A Summer Must Read, and a Brave Call to Action

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer published a great article in Sunday’s New Daily News that startled a number of people.  It was startling because Councilman Van Bramer wrote about his own family’s experience with homelessness – a story certainly most people had never heard.

It was a great story because Van Bramer put a face on homelessness and touched people who normally don’t think about homelessness or that the next homeless family in New York might be very much like your neighbor’s family, your own relatives or perhaps the family of your Council member or you.

Van Bramer used his story to call on all citizens to be part of the solution: “As the city declares war on inequality and Mayor de Blasio rightly takes a humane and honest approach to ending homelessness, we must all be part of the solution. All human beings have a right to shelter. Some may say that’s feel-good liberalism run amok, but in the City of New York, it happens to be the law. We must house our homeless and that means finding places for families like mine to live and begin again.” 

You should read the whole story here.

In a time of dramatically increasing stigmatization of poor or homeless people, that’s often resulted in criminalization of poverty or homelessness or, worse, outright attacks on people experiencing homelessness, it’s inspiring to see our Council Majority Leader leading on a controversial issue.  Championing homeless people may not be the most “politic” thing to do; but it’s the right thing to do.


Thank you Councilman Van Bramer! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Congratulations to City Councilman Steve Levin

On Winning Dedication Award from NYC PHCH

Last week City Councilman Steve Levin, Chairman of Council’s General Welfare Committee, was the recipient of a “Dedication to Improving the Lives of NYC Under Served People” Award presented by the NYC Providers of Health Care for the Homeless (PHCH).  CFH is a charter member of PHCH and CFH Assistant Executive Director Debbian Fletcher-Blake introduced Councilman Levin and presented him with the award.

Councilman Levin has long fought for poor, homeless or underserved New Yorkers and as Committee Chair has been a leading advocate for targeting housing resources to people experiencing homelessness. He told the group of 100 participants at the conference “people who do the life-saving and life-changing work of providing health care and help to homeless people, usually with little recognition, are an inspiration to me in my work on Council” and promised to “be a partner in the fight to do what is right.”

Also recognized at the conference was Care for the Homeless Health Information Specialist John Hyun who received a S/HERO Award from PHCH. S/Hero awards are given annually by PHCH to outstanding providers of service who are nominated and selected by their colleagues at their service agency. Hyun’s award was presented by Dr. Marissa Toussaint, CFH’s Medical Director.

The NYC Providers of Health Care for the Homeless conference is held annually on the occasion of national Health Care for the Homeless Day. The conference was held at the Javits Federal Building in Manhattan.  Other speakers included John Lozier, Executive Director of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council; Beverly Grossman, Senior Policy Director of the Community Health Care Association of New York State; Dr. Dova Marder, Medical Director of the city Department of Homeless Services; Dr. James O’Connell, President of Boston’s Health Care for the Homeless Program; and Gilbert Taylor, Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services.       

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fill a backpack, fill a need!


Did you know there are over 80,000 homeless school children in New York City? 

Thousands of homeless parents are worrying about not being able to afford the items on their children’s school supply list. 

You can help ensure that homeless children are not left behind or forgotten by donating much needed school supplies this summer. This small gesture creates an encouraging environment for academic success by building confidence for the new academic year.

When: July 17 - August 22

Where: Drop off supplies at 30 East 33rd Street, 5th Floor, NY, NY 10016 
            or Susan's Place 1911 Jerome Avenue, BX. 

Questions? Email Rosanna at rmontilla@cfhnyc.org or call 212-366-4459 ext. 202. 

Thank you to our committed sponsors, West Side Foods, 4 Kids in Need, Institute for Family Health and all of our generous donors for inspiring homeless children.    



Thursday, July 31, 2014

785 of Our Homeless Clients will Now Have Their Basic Needs Met

Because of your support, the Toiletry Drive was a huge success this year, bringing in well over 7,000 pieces of toiletries!

Thanks to donations from our caring supporters, Colgate, DNA Public Relations, Hope and Comfort, Inc., and more, we have gathered thousands of toiletries that will be distributed to homeless clients all over New York City.

The College of Mount Saint Vincent students, participants of the TRIO program, have volunteered at Susan’s Place for two consecutive years. Yesterday, in a race against time, they broke their own record and assembled 785 toiletry kits, surpassing last year’s goal!


Thank you for continuing to support Care for the Homeless. We can’t do it without you!   

The College of Mount Saint Vincent TRIO Students at Susan's Place 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Save the Date: September 4 Fashion Show Fundraiser

Health Empowered Beauty

Join us on September 4, 2014 for our annual Health Empowered Beauty Fashion Show Fundraiser to benefit Susan's Place. A fashion show unlike any other, this inspiring event will feature Susan's Place homeless clients as models.

Tickets start at $20! Click here to purchase tickets and get more information.

Health Empowered Beauty Fashion Show
Thursday September 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM
@Subud Chelsea Center 
230 West 29th Street (Map
Subway: 1 to 28th Street or B,D,F,M,N,Q,R 
to 34th Street Herald Square 


Will you be in the front row
on the runway this year?




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Municipal ID Signed into Law

On July 10, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the Municipal ID Law, creating a creates a municipal identification card that will be accepted by city agencies and give New Yorkers greater access to cultural, educational and commercial services. Care for the Homeless strongly advocated for the Municipal ID bill since its introduction.
One of our client leaders, Anthony Wiliams, was one of 12 advocates who testified at the Mayoral Public Hearing the day before the law was signed and the only homeless advocate who spoke. Read his testimony below. Earlier this spring, Care for the Homeless testified at a New York City Council Hearing on the bill. Read more after the jump.

Care for the Homeless Client Testimony Supporting Municipal ID Legislation
By Anthony Williams, Client Leader
Presented to New York City Mayoral Public Hearing, July 9, 2014

My name is Anthony Williams. I’m a client leader with Care for the Homeless in New York City, an organization that has advocated for the municipal ID legislation - we’re very appreciative to the Mayor and Council for this law.

Anthony Williams
On May 28th of this year I was mugged on a subway platform – for the past 5 weeks I’ve been living without government accepted ID. As a person who has lived through chronic homelessness, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in need of ID or struggled to get one. When I thank you for this legislation I’m speaking first-hand about something I’ve lived through.

New York is the greatest city in the world, but it’s difficult to live here without government approved identification. Up until now getting proper ID hasn’t been easy or convenient. Having acceptable ID gives a person confidence and makes it much easier to access city and other resources and services, it makes it easier and more pleasant to interact with police and law enforcement and it makes it possible to use cultural and business services. We have world class services and opportunities in New York, but being without ID denies you the full opportunity to enjoy them.

If this municipal ID bill did no more than assist our undocumented non-citizen neighbors, why wouldn’t we support it? But it actually does far more. It opens up access and opportunities for New Yorkers like me, who though life-long citizens have difficulties due to losing ID and other documents through theft, natural disaster or for whatever reason. It will afford me the opportunity to say that I count. That is what this about, counting as a New Yorker.

That makes this law an opportunity I welcome, I support and I truly thank you for. 

Care for the Homeless Testimony Supporting Municipal ID Legislation
By Jeff Foreman, Care for the Homeless Policy Director
Presented to New York City Council Committee on Immigration, 
April 30, 2014
 
Chairman Menchaca and Members of the New York City Council Immigration Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today in support of Intro 253, the proposed New York City Identity Card legislation.