HELPING THE HOMELESS

January 26, 2019 at 4:45 am

The number of homeless New Yorkers seem to be growing – but by how much? The city is asking for your help to aid those who live on the streets. We’ll tell you how.

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Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public media initiative that provides a deeper understanding of the impact of poverty on American society. Major funding for this initiative is provided by The JPB Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Ford Foundation.

Aired on January 26, 2019.

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>> EVERY JANUARY, THOUSANDS OF
VOLUNTEERS SPAN OUT ACROSS THE
FIVE BOROUGHS WITH A VITALLY
IMPORTANT MISSION -- HELPING THE
CITY GET A COUNT OF THE NUMBER
OF NEW YORKERS LIVING ON THE
STREETS.
THIS SEGMENT IS PART OF OUR
CHASING THE DREAM INITIATIVE ON
POVERTY AND OPPORTUNITY IN
AMERICA.
THE ANNUAL AND INFORMAL CENSUS
OF THE HOMELESS IS FEDERALLY
MANDATED AND IS CRUCIAL TO
TACKLE CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS AND
GET THE HELP THAT IS NEEDED.
THE CITY LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS
IN THE MASSIVE CITYWIDE SURVEY
WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE THIS
COMING JANUARY 28th.
JOINING US TO TELL US MORE ABOUT
HOPE 19 IS STEPHEN BANKS,
COMMISSIONER OF THE NEW YORK
CITY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL
SERVICES.
COMMISSIONER, THANK YOU SO MUCH
FOR JOINING US TODAY.
>> THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME AND I
APPRECIATE YOU GETTING THE WORD
OUT.
>> FIRST OF ALL WHAT IS THE HOPE
AND HOPE 19 STAND FOR?
>> IT'S THE HOMELESS OUTREACH
POPULATION ESTIMATE AND I THINK
THAT'S IMPORTANT.
SOMETIMES PEOPLE SAY, WELL, IT'S
A COUNT.
IT'S AN ESTIMATE.
IT'S A FEDERALLY REQUIRED ANNUAL
COUNT ALL ACROSS THE UNITED
STATES.
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE ON THE
COLDEST DAY OF THE YEAR OR THE
COLDEST PERIOD OF THE YEAR WITH
CLIMATE CHANGE OF COURSE WE ARE
SEEING VAGARIES OVER THE LAST
NUMBER OF YEARS.
SOMETIMES IT'S WARM, SOMETIMES
IT'S NOT WARM.
THAT AFFECTS WHAT YOU SEE ON THE
STREETS.
OBVIOUSLY, IN THIS MOST RECENT
PERIOD OF TIME, WE HAVE MADE
NEARLY 150 PLACEMENTS OFF THE
STREETS IN THIS VERY COLD PERIOD
BECAUSE WE'RE OUT THERE 24/7.
THE ESTIMATE -- THE SURVEY NEXT
MONDAY NIGHT IS REALLY A
CRITICAL PART OF OUR WORK IN NEW
YORK.
WE'RE OUT 24/7, 365 DAYS OF THE
YEAR BUT THIS ONE NIGHT
VOLUNTEERS HELP US CHECK OUR
WORK.
HELP US LOOK AROUND THE CITY AND
SEE IF THERE ARE AREAS AND OTHER
CONCENTRATIONS OF PEOPLE THAT WE
HAVE SOMEHOW MISSED.
SO WE HAVE DOUBLED THE NUMBER OF
OUTREACH WORKERS OVER THE LAST
FOUR YEARS TO MAKE SURE THAT
WE'RE ABLE TO CONSTRUCT THE
FIRST-EVER NEW YORK CITY BY NAME
LIST OF PEOPLE ON THE STREETS.
THAT'S HOW WE'RE BRINGING PEOPLE
OFF THE STREETS.
WE HAVE GOT NEARLY 3,000
VOLUNTEERS ALREADY FOR THE HOPE
COUNT.
WE ENCOURAGE NEW YORKERS TO
VOLUNTEER.
IT'S STARTING AT 10:00 NEXT
MONDAY NIGHT.
YOU CAN GO TO NYC.GOV/HOPE AND
US DO THE WORK.
THE WORK IS SOMETHING THAT
REALLY IS BOTH CHALLENGING,
SATISFYING AND HEART BREAKING.
PEOPLE END UP ON THE STREETS
BECAUSE THEY HAVE FALLEN THROUGH
EVERY SAFETY NET.
IT TAKES US AN AVERAGE OF FIVE
MONTHS TO CONVINCE SOMEBODY TO
COME IN OFF THE STREET.
THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE PROGRAM
IN THE COUNTRY WITH A DOUBLING
OF FINANCIAL ESTIMATE FROM THE
MAYOR WE HAVE BROUGHT 2,000
PEOPLE IN OFF THE STREETS WHO
HAVE REMAINED OFF THE STREETS.
>> SOME DON'T WANT TO GET OFF
THE STREETS BECAUSE THEY'RE
AFRAID OF THE SHELTERS, RIGHT?
>> PEOPLE END UP ON THE STREETS
AS I SAY THEY HAVE HAD BAD
EXPERIENCES IN DEALING WITH
EVERY TYPE OF SAFETY NET THAT
EXISTS.
AND THEY'RE MISTRUSTFUL.
SO IT TAKES FIVE MONTHS ON
AVERAGE TO BUILD THAT TRUST.
AS I SAID, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO
DO THAT FOR 2,000 PEOPLE, TO
HELP BUILD A PATHWAY OFF THE
STREETS.
AND THESE ARE INDIVIDUALS WHO
HAVE REMAINED OFF THE STREET.
THE METRIC USED TO BE BRINGING
PEOPLE OFF THE STREETS, WHETHER
THEY REMAINED OFF THE STREETS OR
NOT.
WE ARE VERY FOCUSED ON ACTUALLY
CHANGING LIVES.
>> THIS IS FEDERALLY MANDATED,
CORRECT?
>> IT'S ALL JURISDICTIONS THAT
ARE REQUIRED TO DO IT.
WE DO IT 365 DAYS A YEAR.
AS I SAID THE BY NAME LIST IS A
GAME CHANGER FOR US IN NEW YORK
CITY.
WE ACTUALLY HAVE A LIST OF
PEOPLE ON THE STREET SO THAT OUR
OUTREACH WORKERS CAN ENGAGE
THEM.
WE MIGHT KNOW, YOU KNOW, JOHN ON
SUCH AND CORNER OR THE
INDIVIDUAL WITH THE RED HAT, BUT
BUILDING THAT TRUST IS WHAT
HELPS US BRING PEOPLE IN AND THE
VOLUNTEERS WILL HELP US MAKE
SURE --
>> MY IMMEDIATE QUESTION WHEN I
READ ABOUT THIS IS IT'S
FEDERALLY MANDATED.
HOW COME YOU NEED VOLUNTEERS?
WHY DON'T THE FEDS PAY ENOUGH
MONEY SO YOU CAN PAY PEOPLE TO
DO THIS?
>> WELL, I THINK IT WOULD BE
REALLY HELPFUL TO GET ADDITIONAL
FUNDING FOR MORE HOUSING AND WE
SEE THE DIFFERENCE WHEN WE HAVE
A FEDERAL PARTNER.
WE ARE ABLE TO BE CERTIFIED FOR
ENDING CHRONIC VETERANS
HOMELESSNESS.
THERE WAS THE COMBINATION OF THE
VOUCHERS AT THE CITY LEVEL WE
ARE ABLE TO MAKE REAL PROGRESS
IN ADDRESSING CHRONIC VETERAN
HOMELESSNESS.
BUT THE VOLUNTEERS ARE THE EYES
AND EYES ON THAT NIGHT.
LOOK, IT'S PART OF THE GREATNESS
OF NEW YORK THAT PEOPLE REALLY
CARE.
PEOPLE ARE INHERENTLY
COMPASSIONATE.
WE SEE IT EVERY DAY ON THE
STREETS WHEN PEOPLE ARE CALLING
ATTENTION TO INDIVIDUALS WHO WE
CAN HELP BRING OFF.
>> SO I WAS WONDERING ACTUALLY
IF THE CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS WAS
NOT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T HAVE THE
MONEY TO PAY FOR IT, BUT BECAUSE
YOU WANTED PEOPLE, ACTUAL
EVERYDAY NEW YORKERS TO GET
INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS.
>> LOOK, HOMELESSNESS IS BUILD
UP OVER MANY DECADES IN NEW YORK
CITY.
HOMELESSNESS INCREASED 115% FROM
1994 TO 2014.
AS A RESULT OF THE FACT THAT
THERE'S A GAP IN RESIDENT -- THE
RENTS UP MORE THAN 18%.
INCOME WENT UP LESS THAN 5%.
IT'S THE INHERENT COMPASSION OF
NEW YORKERS THAT'S HELPING US
ADDRESS THIS CRISIS THAT'S BEEN
DECADES IN THE MAKING.
>> SO SOME OF OUR VIEWERS
WATCHING RIGHT NOW MAY WANT TO
GET INVOLVED, THEY WANT TO
VOLUNTEER.
BUT THEY HAVE SOME QUESTIONS
ABOUT HOW SAFE IT MAY BE.
WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THAT?
>> COME AND JOIN US.
GO ON TO NYC.GOV/HOPE.
PEOPLE GO OUT IN TEAMS AND
THEY'RE TRAINED.
IT IS REALLY A COLLECTIVE
RESPONSE TO A NATIONAL PROBLEM
THAT WE EXPERIENCE ON THE
STREETS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.
IT'S NO COINCIDENCE AS WE LOOK
ACROSS THE COUNTRY --
>> ACROSS THE UNITED STATES.
BUT BEFORE I LET YOU GO, WE HAVE
ONLY 90 SECONDS I THINK IT WAS
IN DECEMBER THAT THE MAYOR SAID
THAT AMONG HIS FAILURES THOSE
ARE THE THINGS HE CONSIDERS THE
FAILURES IS HIS INABILITY TO
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS.
WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT FOR HIM
AND PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS TO
REDUCE THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS IN
THIS NEW YORK CITY?
>> IT'S THE REASONS WE TALKED
ABOUT EARLIER.
THE MAYOR IDENTIFIED
HOMELESSNESS AS A CHALLENGE.
I THINK HE LIKE I ARE NOT
SATISFIED WITH WHERE WE ARE NOW.
BUT WE ALSO AS I SAID ARE SEEING
SOME OF THE INITIATIVES THAT WE
HAVE PUT IN PLACE TAKE HOLD.
HOMELESSNESS IS DRIVEN BY
ECONOMIC FACTORS, 70% OF THE
PEOPLE IN SHELTERS ARE FAMILIES.
A THIRD OF THE HOMELESS FAMILIES
ARE HEADED BY SOMEONE WHO WORKS
AND THEY'RE IN THE SHELTER
SYSTEM BECAUSE AS I SAID THE GAP
BETWEEN RENTS AND INCOME IS A
MAJOR DRIVER OF HOMELESSNESS.
NOT JUST IN NEW YORK CITY, BUT
ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT'S
WHY VOLUNTEERS ON THIS NIGHT OF
HOPE IS SO IMPORTANT.
TO HELP US DO OUR WORK TO
CONTINUE TO LITERALLY TURN THE
TIDE ON HOMELESSNESS.
AS I SAID, 2,000 PEOPLE'S LIVES
HAVE BEEN CHANGED BY COMING OFF
TO STREET.
AND 100,000 HAVE BEEN CHANGED BY
MOVING INTO THE SHELTER.
27% FEWER EVICTIONS.
SO MUCH MORE TO BE DONE.
AND I KNOW WE'LL KEEP AFTER IT.
>> COMMISSIONER, THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR JOINING US TODAY TO
TALK ABOUT THIS VERY IMPORTANT
ISSUE.
>> THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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