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Thread: Plan to Address Homelessness

  1. #31
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    Plan Would Require Homeless to Work to Qualify for Rent Subsidies

    By JULIE BOSMAN

    The Bloomberg administration is planning to require more homeless families to get jobs in order to qualify for rent subsidies, city officials said Tuesday.

    For the last three years, the city had provided certain homeless families with vouchers good for one or two years of free or steeply discounted rent. Since the program began, more than 18,000 families, and some single adults, have received the so-called Advantage vouchers, more than 7,500 of them last year.

    Most of those families qualified for the vouchers because they had already found work, and as a result were eligible to pay only $50 toward their rent each month for up to two years. But families who had become the subject of child welfare investigations were granted an even-more-generous voucher, good for up to two years of free rent — because of their vulnerability.

    Now the Bloomberg administration is seeking to require that nearly all families have at least one member with a job before they receive a rent subsidy. Participants would also pay more toward their rent — rather than $50 a month, they would be required to pay 30 percent of their income during the first year of the subsidy. During the second year, they would pay 50 percent of the total rent.

    The administration’s proposal is awaiting approval by the state, which pays half the cost. The city pays 37 percent and the federal government the rest.

    “The goal here is to create a rental assistance program that helps people move out of shelter and provides an appropriate government subsidy,” said Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services. “Anybody who can work, is capable of working, and we should help them work.”

    Ms. Gibbs added that the administration also planned to reinstate a requirement that homeless families who have income pay rent while they are in shelters.

    There are more than 36,000 people in the city shelter system, including nearly 8,500 families with children.

    Ms. Gibbs said it was unclear whether the change would save money in the $141.8 million plan, but she said she hoped that it would help more families find jobs and permanent homes. She added that New York has an “extraordinarily generous” shelter system and housing subsidy program.

    But some of the organizations that run homeless shelters for the city said they were worried that the new rules might keep families in shelters even longer — particularly families with children who have been deemed to be at risk of neglect or abuse. Those families, monitored by the city’s child welfare office, would now be required to find jobs to qualify for a subsidy.

    “In general, it may make moveouts slower because it’s difficult to find work out there,” said Colleen K. Jackson, the executive director of the West End Intergenerational Residence, a shelter for young mothers. “Jobs are not easy to come by.”

    This is the second time in three years that the city has made significant changes to its rental assistance program. A previous and short-lived version, called Housing Stability Plus, required participants to be on welfare. The Advantage program, which began in 2007, has a stronger focus on work.

    “From a family perspective, if a parent or caregiver is employed, the family is that much more likely to remain stable and stay in permanent housing,” said Gordon J. Campbell, president and chief executive of United Way of New York City, a former homeless services commissioner.

    Some advocates for the homeless were quick to criticize the second change announced on Tuesday: the administration’s plans to revive the state-mandated requirement that working homeless families pay rent while they are in shelters. City officials said they expect to issue notices to families in September that they will be charged rent.

    The plan was first attempted a year ago, but halted after only three weeks because of what a city official called “technical issues.” When it is revived again, the Human Resources Administration, instead of the shelter providers, will handle rent collection.

    Steven Banks, the attorney in chief of the Legal Aid Society, who is a frequent critic of the administration, said its approach to the issue “seems to elevate ideology or philosophy over reality.”

    “In the midst of an extraordinary economic downturn, to be going after families who are earning minimum wages to pay the cost of shelter instead of encouraging them to save their meager wages so they can move out, in the end, is going to cost more,” Mr. Banks said.

    State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, a Democrat representing a Brooklyn and Manhattan district, said that he supported adding a provision to the state budget that would prevent the city from charging rent in shelters.

    “The goal for homeless families is moving out of homelessness,” Mr. Squadron said. “Charging rent is beyond perverse.”

    Ms. Gibbs described the rent requirements as modest. A family with an annual income of $10,000, for example, would pay $36 a month to live in a shelter; however, a family with $25,000 in annual income would pay $926 a month. Eighty percent of homeless families would be exempt from the requirement.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/ny...l?ref=nyregion

  2. #32
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    Dept. of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond backtracks on plan to make shelters pay rent

    BY Frank Lombardi

    The city's new homeless commissioner reported progress Tuesday in talks to drop the controversial requirement of making working homeless pay rent to stay in shelters.
    Instead, the city would substitute a requirement for the homeless to deposit a portion of their earnings into a savings account, which they would get to keep.

    "I'm pleased to report that the negotiations [with state officials] are looking positive, in the sense that I think we will be able to get there," Commissioner Seth Diamond of the Department of Homeless Services testified during a City Council budget hearing.
    But he cautioned, "As you all know, from sometimes painful experience, nothing is done in Albany until it's done."

    The Bloomberg administration began pushing the rent requirement last year, citing a 1997 state mandate. But after an uproar from homeless advocates and the media, the city didn't fully implement the policy.But officials had said as recently as last month that it was still in the works.

    Questioned Tuesday by Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan), Diamond said the rent requirement was misunderstood as a revenue-raising measure.

    "The money was never about revenue for the city," he said. "It was really about building good behavior and providing a way for families to learn that they would need to contribute something out of their income."

    He added, "If we can do that in a better way with savings, while allowing families to save money that they can access once they leave the shelter, we're happy to do that."

    Diamond said details remain to be worked out but did not elaborate, other than to say that state law would have to be changed to allow the savings account alternative.

    "It's good news," said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, which had strongly opposed the rent requirement. "We always said we would support a savings program. That's what they [working homeless] do already, they save to get out of shelters."

    Diamond was named homeless commissioner four weeks ago, after serving as a ranking official with the city's welfare agency, the Human Resources Administration. He is a staunch workfare advocate.

    "Every adult in the shelter system who can work must work and we are prepared to work closely with the HRA on a range of services to assist them in gaining employment," he testified yesterday.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/...#ixzz0oSt1eY4g

  3. #33
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Sadly, I think that some of these guys should pay a nominal rent.

    Why? Not for revenue, but respect. People just do not respect things that are given to them for free. But most have a HELL of a lot more respect for something they worked and paid for.

    All you have to do is look at some of the tenement buildings and watch the peoples attitudes. They just do not feel it is up to them to clean up after themselves, take care of where they live and the building that houses them. If that building is a wreck, they will get moved to another, so who cares?


    Odd, those that have for nothing fail to see what they have, but those forced to pay for nothing (slumloard units) would kill for the opportunity....

  4. #34
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge View Post

    People just do not respect things that are given to them for free. But most have a HELL of a lot more respect for something they worked and paid for.
    Don't be so sure that it works out that way. There's avery interesing article in a recent New Yorker on that subject ....

    The Poverty Lab

    More on the article: The Challenge of Public Policy Research

  5. #35
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Loft, I will give it a read, but I am referring to the success of programs like Housing for Humanity, where the buildings that people pay for and work on tend to last much longer than ones set up for free.

    This does not apply to all cases, but to quite a few in my own experience (as observer.......).


    Edit: I can't get in w/o subscription... I did not read if it was free or not, but whatever.

    My statement still stands, people have a tendency to respect things, at least in Western Civilization, that they work for rather than what is available for free.

    Another example? Purebreds versus shelter pets. You pay $700 for a cat you are much more likely to treat it better/forgive its misgivings than the one you got for free. (You = 3rd person plural, not YOU you Loft!! )

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    "The Homeless" is an umbrella for a vast array of people in circumstances of homelessness. Many are transitional homeless who are able to reestablish themselves. Others struggle with substance abuse, dementia, mental illness, . . . and the list continues. Approaches need to be broad-based and able to direct clients to the services that best fit their situation.

    When I volunteered at the homeless shelter in South Bend, the working clients had a portion of their wages set aside into savings accounts for future deposits for rent and utilities (and in some truly inspiring cases, a down payment for a house). Although my present responsibilities are to college students, I have not only temporarily housed homeless students here at Newman House but I also employ an older woman who presently lives in "God's woods" (her words). A young homeless mother (now in housing) stopped me on the street and asked if my students could tutor her for her GED. Non-profit agencies advise me and take referrals, in acknowledgment that only a community-wide response can hope to begin to address crises as varied as health, economy, personal tragedy, or crime. One size can not fit all.

    It is extremely difficult to devise institutional responses to people whose circumstances are so widely divergent. I applaud the city's Homeless Services, while recognizing its shortcomings. Personal dignity and hope are key as people struggle to recover.

  7. #37
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    Perhaps this thread I created should be incorporated here?


    New policy doesn't charge homeless with a job to stay in city shelters - it makes them save cash

    By Adam Lisberg

    Homeless people with jobs won't have to pay rent to stay in city shelters under a new deal announced Friday - but they will have to start saving money to get their own apartments."Instead of paying us fees for shelter, the money they save will be theirs when they leave the shelter," Mayor Bloomberg said. "We hope the experience will improve their financial literacy and show the value of saving."

    The new policy, expected to soon become law in Albany, will require shelter residents with jobs to set aside a portion of their income in interest-bearing accounts.

    Existing law requires the city to charge rent to the homeless. But when it tried to enforce the long-ignored rule, it sparked outrage among legislators and homeless activists.

    "With the economy in shambles, the least among us shouldn't have to pay for survival," said Assemblyman Keith Wright (D-Harlem). "I can't think of anyone that has ever said, 'I can't find an apartment, maybe I want to take up residence in a homeless shelter.'"

    Bloomberg said only 20% of shelter families would pay when the policy starts in October, saving a total of $2 million a year.

    A family making $10,000 a year will have to save $36 a month, and as their income rises, so will the payment.

    "As families leave shelters, they will have a much greater chance of staying in permanent housing for a long time," said state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan/Brooklyn).


  8. #38
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    Twitter can be wonderful .


    A Life on the Streets, Captured on Twitter


    By COREY KILGANNON


    Derrick Wiggins, a homeless man who has a Twitter account, posting in
    a Starbucks in Manhattan.

    Derrick Wiggins, 44, began his daily tweeting at 5:41 Wednesday morning, and it wasn’t about the quality of his French roast coffee or his favorite “American Idol” contestant.
    It was to let his roughly 3,800 followers know that he had woken up safely in the New York City Rescue Mission, a drop-in shelter on Lafayette Street, and eaten breakfast there.

    His next message, at 6:03 a.m., outlined his immediate plans: “It is going to be a cold day my plans are to minimize the amount of exposure to the cold by making use of the subway.”

    Mr. Wiggins’s Twitter handle is @awitness2011, and the profile on his Twitter page explains that he is “tweeting from a prepaid cell phone.” It identifies him as “A native New Yorker and a Giants fan. Homeless.”

    Mr. Wiggins is one of four homeless men who were given prepaid cellphones so that they could create a Twitter following, as part of a project started by three recent college graduates who are interns at the BBH advertising agency in TriBeCa.

    “We had the idea to use social media to help out the homeless,” said one of the interns, Rosemary Melchior. “One goal was to increase the interaction between homeless people and the community around them.”

    The agency gave her and her two partners, Robert Weeks and Willy Wang, $1,000 and this directive: “Do something good, famously.” They created a Web site called Underheard in New York, whose goal is to “help homeless New Yorkers speak for themselves through Twitter.”

    Mr. Wiggins’s messages include no links to the latest online article, no witty use of juvenile texting lingo, no gratuitous pop culture references. But through his brief, quickly typed bursts every hour or two, his followers gain a glimpse into the life of a New Yorker with no home.

    By 9 a.m. Wednesday, he wrote that he had found warmth on the subway.

    “The trains are warm and clean, a suitable refuge from the cold,” read a message posted at 9:13 a.m. He posted a photograph he snapped with his phone, of a homeless man sleeping on the subway, behind a shopping cart full of belongings.

    “Who’s son, brother, uncle or father is he? What services are available?” Mr. Wiggins wrote.

    Mr. Wiggins typically writes a dozen times a day, often posting a “good night” from his bunk bed in the shelter room he shares with dozens of other men.

    “I do the best I can do to share my experiences with the people who are following me,” he said in an interview at a Starbucks on West 14th Street, minutes before an interview with a job counselor at a nearby help-center.

    Clear-eyed, shaven and dressed like a professor, in a brown overcoat, tan scarf and gray wool cap, he looked presentable even by corporate cubicle standards. He said he had saved a few bucks to have his clothes cleaned, because he had job interviews coming up.

    He has accumulated followers from Brazil, Italy, France, Australia and other countries, and as he spoke, his phone kept vibrating with new messages from followers. He quickly tapped out responses to each one and resumed conversing. Mostly, he receives messages of encouragement, he said, which help him avoid a spiral into dejection.

    There have been days when he has not posted updates because he lacked a place to charge his phone. But typically he writes about his job search and simple dispatches about how he copes on the street. On Tuesday morning, before a job counseling session, he wrote: “I have arrived at the HRA Waverly Center located at 12 West 14 Street NYC, NY. I am waiting for the doors’ to open. It is very cold.” And later: “During the day I walk in the sun light.”

    Mr. Wiggins said he grew up on the Lower East Side. His mother was a drug addict who died when he was young, he said, and by the time he was an adolescent, he was living on the streets and getting into drugs and trouble. He dropped out of high school and later served three and a half years in state prison for an assault, he said.

    He became a born-again Christian in the 1990s, and at one point attained stability with a wife, a home and a steady job as a counselor at a Lower East Side homeless agency. But it didn’t last, he said, and soon he was alone again and on the street. After being unable to pay the rent on his last apartment, in Jersey City, a year ago, he stayed with a friend for a few months and then began staying at the drop-in shelter, where he lines up every evening, in time to get himself a bed.

    Asked to reflect on how Twitter had affected his life, Mr. Wiggins said that “just the fact that somebody is listening” had helped him persevere. He said, “I’ve received what I need to keep going.”

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20.../?ref=nyregion

  9. #39
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    That is actually a very interesting idea.....

    I only worry that as gratifying as a following is, it can also be devastating when "followers" try to hurt. I have seen it quite often on Web BBS's, it can happen here as well...

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    ^ It's nice just to go with the good vibes sometimes, Ninja .


    Underheard in NY

    In a time when communication is all around us, we felt it was necessary to give a voice to the people who needed it most. Between Jan. 2009 and Jan. 2010 the total number of unsheltered individuals within New York City rose an estimated 34%. We gave Danny, Derrick, Albert and Carlos- four homeless residents of NYC- prepaid cell phones and Twitter accounts in order to include them in our global community.

  11. #41
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    The Blueprint

    Post-Sandy, New York’s homeless problem is even more daunting. One building in Brooklyn shows how it might be solved.
    By Justin Davidson



    (Photo: Rendering courtesy of © Cook + Fox Architects)

    A few weeks ago, I watched a man who had spent much of his life living in doorways and cardboard boxes shamble into the sun-washed lobby of a new building on Hegeman Avenue in Brownsville, dig an I.D. card out of baggy jeans, swipe through the turnstile, and take the elevator up to a modest but clean room equipped with a bed, an ample window, a closet, and a kitchenette. He was home.

    Sandy has aggravated an already brutal housing crisis in New York. With 3,000 adults living on the streets, and another 47,000 people forced into homelessness by the economy, shelters are overflowing, and the city pays exorbitant rents for emergency lodgings. The danger is that temporary fixes and short-term squalor could become the new status quo. But housing the homeless, not in shelters but with dignity, is a less intractable challenge than it seems. Buildings like the Hegeman point the way. They are the product of an extensive network of nonprofit organizations and private developers that has accumulated enough experience, enlisted enough first-class architects, and slowly changed enough attitudes to put a solution within reach.

    Built by the nonprofit organization Common Ground and designed by Cook + Fox (which also did the Bank of America tower), the Hegeman demonstrates how much quality architecture a scant budget will buy. Constructed for a modest $43 million, it is the best building for blocks, a handsome brick arrangement of 161 energy-efficient studios, a gym, support-staff offices, and a computer lab, all wrapped around a landscaped garden. There’s no mystery to making low-cost housing this well designed: Hire better architects. “You can always take the same ingredients and make a better cake,” says Alexander Gorlin, who designed another elegantly frugal Common Ground project, the Brook in the South Bronx. Prodded by a combination of recession-induced need and the profession’s resurgent current of idealism, many top architects now chase such public-spirited jobs.

    These architects and developers have the tools to tackle homelessness on a vast scale, but every project must slog through a bureaucratic quagmire. Fortunately, housing activists now have a powerful weapon with which to prod government officials into smoothing the way: data. Research by NYU’s Furman Center shows that, far from blighting a neighborhood, high-quality supportive housing can actually increase property values. Multiple studies have shown that placing disabled, addicted, chronically sick, and mentally ill homeless people in facilities like the Hegeman saves millions in Medicaid payments. The numbers are proving persuasive. New York State has started channeling $75 million a year in Medicaid money toward supportive housing, and it’s trying to persuade the federal government to add more.

    In a city as dense as New York, land can be even harder to come by than money. (That’s why the Bloomberg administration’s affordable- housing program depends heavily on coaxing private developers to sprinkle market-rate high-rises with low-cost apartments.) But while New York has few expanses of land left for massive housing developments, plenty of smaller lots are scattered around the city. To free them up, NYU urbanism professor Mitchell Moss proposes taxing fallow land at a high enough rate to prod owners to build now or sell to those who will.

    The idea that it might be possible to conquer homelessness is so foreign to the city’s bureaucratic apparatus that officials from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development wouldn’t hazard a guess as to the resources it would take. Common Ground offered some back-of-the-envelope calculations, though, and they’re hardly terrifying. Putting up 100 new Hegeman-quality buildings with units of varying capacities would cost roughly $100,000 per apartment in public funds, with the rest coming from private lenders. The city’s homeless problem, in other words, could be largely wiped out at a cost to taxpayers of roughly $1 billion—which also happens to have been the total bill for Barclays Center.

    http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/...risis-2012-12/

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    Grrrrrr.


    Bloomberg, Homeless Advocates Spar After Mayor Denies Anyone Is 'Sleeping On The Streets'

    Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that "no one is sleeping on the streets" in New York City, NY1 reports.

    The comment-- in response to a New York Daily News article that said city shelters were turning away families during frigid winter temperatures-- was quickly condemned by homeless advocates who have long decried Bloomberg's handling of the city's homeless.

    It also came as a shock to everyday New Yorkers who, looking out their window or on their way to work, can see homeless people sleeping on the streets.

    "It's a remark that just seems so out of touch with the everyday reality that New Yorkers see," said Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless.

    In fact, the remark directly contradicts the city's own data estimating more than 3,200 people sleeping on the streets in 2012.

    It also comes just days after an appeals court sided with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, striking down the mayor's policy of requiring homeless individuals to prove their homelessness in order to acquire temporary housing.

    Critics said the mayor skirted proper procedure in making the policy change that left the homeless with nothing but a "death sentence."

    Those that have come to Bloomberg's defense believe such requirements are a necessary move in order to relieve overcrowding in shelters. In 2011, the homeless population rose to over 41,000 individuals, marking the first time the city exceeded the 40,000 mark.

    Bloomberg previously got into hot water for another comment regarding the city's homeless. In August, the mayor said New York City shelters offered a "much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/0...p_ref=new-york

  13. #43
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    We can't get rid of this midget mayor fast enough.

  14. #44

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    I'll remind you of that when we see who's next.

    To the original point. I see people sleeping on the streets. It's usually the same crew of mentally ill crack addicts who don't want to go to the shelters. Unless you can force them off the streets, they're going to stay there.
    Last edited by BBMW; February 27th, 2013 at 01:45 PM.

  15. #45
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Are you proposing a fourth term?

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