HELPING THE HOMELESS

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.

TRANSCRIPT

> 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.

I APPRECIATE IT.

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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