March 30, 2012 Leave a comment
The NY Daily News published an opinion article today about the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness‘ newly released report titled “A New Path: An Immediate Plan to Reduce Family Homelessness.” This report establishes a framework to confront homelessness in New York City, advocating for a multiplicity of paths to obtain permanent, stable housing. The report lays out three tiers, or tracks, that families would be placed in based on need. The first tier would be to place families straight into affordable housing, presumably helping them locate the housing and assisting with rent. The second tier would be to locate housing, but also help with employment opportunities and other basic social services. The third tier would be most similar to a shelter, only renamed “Community Residential Resource Centers” in which families live in the center and receive intensive job training, education, counseling, and assistance with child reunification. Ideally, according to the report, these centers would also function as resources for the neighborhood at large.
While we at UHAB don’t deal directly with issues of homelessness, the majority of buildings we work in have at some point provided housing for New Yorkers in the Work Advantage program. Sadly, we have witnessed heartbreaking stories from tenants who were in the program but whose benefits have been cut, leaving them with no options but to wait for the marshal to evict them. The termination of Work Advantage for thousands of New Yorkers has not only effected individual families, but entire buildings. Once the city stops paying a tenant’s rent, a landlord has less income to make repairs or continue paying a mortgage. Buildings, as a result, more easily fall into states of disrepair, impacting the lives of all tenants and the larger community as well.
Predatory Equity destroys opportunities for families in New York to live in well-kept, safe, affordable housing. This reality makes us skeptical of new programs which address homelessness, but don’t provide preservation plans or proposals for creation of new affordable housing. One cannot go without the other. Our question is in what buildings and neighborhoods will families be placed? What ensures this program to be more sustainable than the Work Advantage program? Until the threat of continuous loss of affordable housing is quelled, we feel this plan will not be successful.
Maybe it’s time to ask homeless people themselves what services they want…Picture the Homeless, a grassroots organizing group of homeless folks demanding respect and human rights, have a lot to say on the matter.
To read more about the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness report, click here.
To read more about Picture the Homeless’ recent action in response to a recent NY Post article, click here.