Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Care for the Homeless a leader in the Fight

To Save Human Service Programs for Homeless and Poor People

Last week Care for the Homeless, and 2.100 other advocacy and provider organizations across the U.S., launched a campaign to fight “sequestration”, the automatic federal funding cuts threatening most human service programs in the coming federal budget. These cuts, set at 8.2% for most domestic discretionary spending, include cuts to health programs, housing assistance, child welfare programs, job training and on and on.

Operating as NDD United (NDD stands for nondefense discretionary) this national effort contacted every U.S. Senator and House of Representatives member emphasizing the critical importance of these human service programs that serve our neediest neighbors, the harmful effects of budget cuts and the need for a strong domestic program as well as defense spending.

The cuts an 8.2% reduction requires would be draconian. It would mean fewer people getting adequate medical care, less mental health care and addiction services availability, more people homeless and even less funding for affordable housing and public housing. Over the long run these cutbacks aren’t just morally wrong, they will actually cost more public resources than they can save.

But if nothing is done to correct it, these across the board cuts of key domestic programs are in the 2016 federal budget. NDD United noted that deficit reduction measures adopted since 2010 have come overwhelmingly from budget cuts, with the ratio of spending cuts to revenue increases beyond those recommended by bipartisan groups, academics and experts. The group said “there is bipartisan agreement that sequestration is bad policy and ultimately hurts our nation.” That was at the heart of the 2013 bipartisan agreement led by Republican Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic Senator Patty Murray that at least temporarily provided sequestration relief. But that compromise is no longer in effect in the coming budget.     

If you are concerned about cuts to health care, programs for kids, housing for homeless people and other discretionary domestic programs, now is the time to speak up. These budget decisions are currently being discussed in Congress. You can reach your member of the House or Senate (or find out who they are) toll free through the Congressional Switchboard at 1-877-210-5351.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

NYC’s Infant Mortality Rate Hits All Time Low “For Most People”

By Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

At Care for the Homeless, New York City’s largest provider of healthcare exclusively to homeless people of all ages, we’re always watching public health statistics and city health policy. So we were pleased to see the city report a new record low infant mortality rate of 4.6 deaths per 1,000 live births (for calendar year 2013) – which the city reports is down 24.6% since 2004. New York City’s improved infant mortality rate is well better than the national average, as is New York City’s age average life expectancy both for men and women. Which is great.

But the figures also show a great disparity by race. The mortality rate for black infants is 8.3 deaths per 1,000 live births, more than two-and-a-half times the rate for white infants. The same kin d of disparities exist by neighborhood with the city’s poorest areas (like East New York at 8.4) having far more troubling infant mortality rates than more affluent areas (like Park Slope at 1.9).

Every year, on about the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, Care for the Homeless and advocates for people experiencing homelessness across North America observe Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day in part to recognize the incredible health disparities experienced by unstably housed people. Studies show an age adjusted life expectancy for chronically homeless people of between 30 and 40 years lower than for those stably housed.

We celebrate our city’s overall health improvements measured by metrics like a lower infant mortality rate and an annually growing life expectancy. But like city government, our goal is to spread our improving public health outcomes to all New Yorkers regardless of income, class, geography or condition of housing. That’s why our daily mission in 33 health clinics and our mobile health clinic as well as through our street medical teams is to provide high-quality and client centered health care to any New Yorker without stable housing.