Troubling Questions Persist about City’s Callous Homebase Study

More and more unanswered questions remain about the City’s callous Homebase experiment, in which 200 needy families have been denied prevention services for two years.

As we noted in an earlier post, elected officials and advocates have strongly criticized the study and have called on the Bloomberg administration to halt the experiment and immediately help the 200 at-risk families. In a CNN News report, National Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Neil Donovan called the study “reprehensible” and “draconian.”

According to the NY Daily News‘ Tina Moore, who broke the story, and WNYC radio, the New York City Council’s General Welfare Committee has scheduled a hearing on the study for early December. Here are some of the questions that Bloomberg administration officials should be required to answer:

• Countless studies of government programs have been conducted without actually harming people in need. Why didn’t the City design a study that does not deny help to vulnerable children and families?

• Bloomberg administration officials claim that study participants signed consent forms — but the families who were denied help report that they had no choice but to sign the forms and were never told they can opt out of the study. What do City officials mean when they refer to “consent forms”?

• The Homebase program is seven years old, has served thousands of families, and presumably has generated mounds of data. Why is the City only now conducting an evaluation of the program.

• Bloomberg administration officials have repeatedly said that the Homebase program is a resounding success. If there had never been an evaluation of the program before, on what evidence did the administration base those claims?

• In defending the study, Bloomberg administration officials have claimed that the Federal government is conducting a similar study. But there is no evidence of this at all, and Federal studies of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program are examining the success of re-housing programs, not prevention services — and doing so without denying vital aid to people in crisis. What are administration officials referring to when they make such claims?

• What will be the impact on children and families who become homeless as a result of the study?  What will be the cost to City taxpayers if some or all of the 200 at-risk families become homeless and enter the municipal shelter system?

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