Yesterday's preliminary budget hearing at City Hall highlighted some of the City's proposed cuts to the Department of Homeless Services. Some of the main cuts include:
• The closing of the largest Drop-in Center for street homeless men and women, The Open Door, located in midtown Manhattan.
• A reduction in prevention services administered by neighborhood offices called "Homebase."
• Reductions in medical services for adults.
• Reductions in security personnel at some adult and family shelters.
Although less severe than recently proposed State budget cuts, these reductions in services are nonetheless detrimental to homeless men, women, and children in New York City. Street homeless individuals are particularly hurt this year with the closing of the City's largest 24-hour Drop-in Center, which provided case management services, referrals to faith-based beds, meals, and showers, among other services. The Open Door Drop-in Center will be fully closed at the end of this month, potentially leaving dozens of men and women without any access to services.
Also at the hearing, DHS Commissioner Robert Hess vigorously opposed the State cuts proposed by Governor Paterson, calling them "untenable and irresponsible."
City Council members asked other questions of Commissioner Hess, including what the City's plan is for the thousands of families that are timing off of the Advantage subsidy program. Commissioner Hess's noteworthy response: "Our families are very resilient and will figure it out on their own."
Needless to say, we find this response untenable and irresponsible.
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