THE DOE FUND RELEASES PLAN FOR HOMELESS SERVICES REFORMS IN NYC
“THE RIGHT TO SERVICES,” A NEW ROLE FOR DHS, AND AN END TO FOR-PROFIT PROVIDERS AMONG CALLS FOR A SUSTAINABLE SYSTEM THAT BETTER SERVES NEW YORKERS IN NEED
New York City-based nonprofit organization The Doe Fund has released a four point plan to better serve homeless individuals and to address the record levels of homelessness the city currently faces. The plan contains recommendations and reforms to create a sustainable system that improves outcomes, reduces waste and provides the best possible services to New Yorkers in need.
“This is the issue we can all come together on. The time is right to reform a system that is buckling under the stress of human suffering.” said George McDonald, founder and president of The Doe Fund. “From Albany to City Hall and for every New Yorker who encounters the consequences of homelessness on a daily basis, we all know we have to act now to lift our fellow citizens up. Our plan addresses four critical areas for improvement, but really what we’re talking about is changing the way homelessness is perceived and dealt with. Homelessness is not just about not having a roof over your head. It’s about a complex set of conditions and disadvantages that lock people out of mainstream society. We can fix that if we all work together.”
The Doe Fund’s recommendations released today include the following reforms. George McDonald’s commentary follows each of the four points.
- Allow only non-profit organizations to operate transitional residences (shelters).
“Horror stories from for-profit warehouses masquerading as shelters and overcrowding in city-run intake shelters are preventing people from seeking the help they need. Each sector has a role to play in managing this crisis, but each sector must do what it’s best at. The government should administer funds and provide oversight. The private sector should be building new affordable housing. And quality nonprofits should be serving people,” explained McDonald.
- Restructure DHS as an administrative body which oversees provider quality and provides a continuum of care for homeless New Yorkers.
“Instead of running shelters, the city’s homeless agency should be coordinating care across this incredibly high quality ecosystem of nonprofit providers we have in New York City. By providing continuity and case management as well as funding and oversight, New Yorkers will get out of the system faster and have the tools they need to live on their own.”
- Pair the “right to shelter” with a “right to services.”
“The Right to Shelter proves just how generous we are, as New Yorkers. But we also have to be smart. The Right to Shelter is a compact between city and citizen; and everyone has to have a stake in their recovery from homelessness. That’s why we’re proposing rethinking the Right to Shelter to include a Right to Services. Shelter gets people into the system. But it’s the services that get them out.”
- Create a new path back to society for individuals returning from prison homeless.
“Almost everyone who goes to prison will come home sooner or later. And yet we’ve invested virtually nothing in their return trip. New York State is forced to release thousands of men from prison into an ill-fitting, overburdened homeless system which all but guarantees recidivism. If we want our Department of Corrections to live up to its name, we have to correct homelessness among parolees and provide a vocational and service-rich path home.”
Many of the reforms have their roots in McDonald’s prior work on the New York City Commission on the Homeless, a commission convened by Mayor David Dinkins and chaired by current Governor of the State of New York Andrew Cuomo in 1992. The report issued by that group, “The Way Home,” has been republished by The Doe Fund ahead of the Commission’s 25th anniversary, and is available for download here. “We know where we’ve gone right and the work left to be done since ‘The Way Home.’ It’s time we take our own best advice and put it to work for New Yorkers in need,” said McDonald.
The Doe Fund’s full proposal can be accessed by clicking here.