Children Sleeping in Penn Station Under Mayor Bloomberg’s Watch: Take Action

Last week, an NBC investigative team delved into the City’s inhumane system that denies shelter to homeless families.

NBC chronicled the story of April Gayles and her two children, 6 and 10 years old, who were forced to sleep in Penn Station after being denied shelter for the third time by New York City’s Department of Homeless Services. Watch the video here.

Sadly, April and her kids are not alone in their struggle to get shelter. Every day, as many as two-thirds of the families that seek help at homeless shelters in New York City are turned away by a misguided policy that denies shelter to desperate homeless families even when they’ve presented proof that they have no place to go.

We’ve created a petition telling Mayor Bloomberg to stop turning families away from shelter and give them the help they need! So far we have 500 signatures. Help us get to 1,000!

April and her children were eventually granted access to shelter only after intervention by NBC’s investigative team. But hundreds of families end up returning to dangerous living situations, abusive spouses, or – like the Gayles family – are forced into the streets or transit system.

The City says the families they turn away have other places to go, but their own data tell another story. Forty-four percent of the families who ARE granted shelter were previously rejected by the City, meaning thousands of the families with children they turned away truly had no other options.

Even worse, the City now wants to expand the “prove you’re homeless” policy to homeless single adults – a population with much higher rates of mental illness and substance abuse and even less able to fight the City’s bureaucracy. Luckily, quick intervention by us and the Legal Aid Society stopped this new policy for the forseeable future. But for now, homeless kids and families continue to face insurmountable hurdles when applying for shelter.

Help us convince the Mayor that denying shelter to homeless kids and families is misguided and cruel. Tell Mayor Bloomberg to give all homeless New Yorkers the help they need!