New York to Use 18,000 City Workers to Identify and Help Homeless

New York City will direct more than 18,000 of its municipal workers to use 311 to give social service workers real-time information to help them steer the almost 4,000 people who live on the streets into shelters.

The effort, known as Outreach NYC, is the latest attempt from Mayor Bill de Blasio to tackle perhaps the most intractable problem his administration has faced: street homelessness. The problem was highlighted in October when a homeless man, Randy Santos, allegedly bludgeoned four other homeless men to death in Chinatown.

Today’s Video: Homeless, Not Nameless

The horrific attacks on New Yorkers who were sleeping on the streets in early October 2019 shook the conscience of the city and served as a tragic reminder that thousands of people live without the protection and privacy of a home. Neighbors, friends, and family came together to grieve the four men who were killed and to pray for the recovery of a fifth man who was critically injured in the attacks. Coalition for the Homeless held a vigil to mourn the tremendous loss of these men, several of whom we often served through our nightly mobile soup kitchen, the Grand Central Food Program.

This week, NY1 aired a series of profiles of the victims from reporter Courtney Gross. The poignant tributes shed light on the lives of the men, reminding us that our neighbors in need are first and foremost human beings with individual histories, personalities, challenges, and hopes. Visit NY1 to watch the four profiles:

Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier spoke with NY1 about the urgent need to get at the root cause of homelessness by providing the dignity and stability of housing to New Yorkers who sleep on the streets:

“What folks may be doing to survive on the streets, or to deal with problems or trauma they are facing in their lives, may not differ from the kind of coping mechanisms that people who have a home face, but they are forced to do it in public, right? They don’t have the privacy of their own home to cope with the issues they are facing. So at the end of the day, the issue that needs to be solved is homelessness and their access to a safe, private space.”

The tragedies have intensified calls for solutions that can offer real help to the thousands of our neighbors who bed down on the streets and in the subways. Specifically, the Coalition and others have called for more permanent affordable and supportive housing and more low-threshold safe haven beds to give people a better, safer option than the streets. Learn more about supportive housing, safe havens, and the House Our Future NY Campaign.

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