New York City and the Homeless
During the current decade the number of homeless people sleeping each night in New York City shelters has reached modern-day record levels.
NEW YORK - Twenty-two New York City churches have been ordered by the city to stop providing shelter to the homeless.
With temperatures below freezing Saturday, the churches had to follow a city rule requiring faith-based shelters to be open at least five days a week or not at all.
Arnold Cohen, president of the Partnership for the Homeless, a non-profit organization that serves as a link between city officials and shelters, delivered the news to the churches several weeks ago that they no longer qualify.
As a result hundreds of people now won't have a place to sleep, he said.
The city's emergency shelter network contract requires sites to operate at least five nights a week. The 22 churches have limited resources, since they operate their homeless beds using mostly volunteers.
There are currently 35,000 homeless people living in New York City shelters.
Amidst growing signs that the Wall Street meltdown and the stalling economy are devastating New York City and the rest of the state, there is alarming new evidence of the impact of the economic recession on New York City homelessness.
According to little-noticed data from the New York City Department of Homeless Services, the number of new homeless families entering the municipal shelter system has surpassed all-time record levels each of the past three months.
In September alone, 1,464 homeless families entered New York City shelters.
Despite evidence of rising family homelessness, Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, and State and City officials are planning dramatic budget cutbacks in vital services – building on recent cuts in homelessness prevention and other services. The current City budget already includes more than $3 million in cutbacks to homelessness prevention programs, while the State has also reduced funding for prevention and other vital homeless services.
Does it make sense to order closure of 22 churches, just because their volunteers cannot be open a minimum of five days a week?