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Homeless & Housing Solutions’ Core Objectives

(MSCC) John Mudd, Sharon Jasprizza, August 26, 2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS

CORE ACTIONS 2

COMMUNICATION 2

Networks 3

PROGRAMS 4

SERVICES 7

Pipelines 8

POLICIES 10

Oversight AND PREVENTION 11

HOUSING 13

ADDENDUM: LIFE SKILLS WORKSHOP POSSIBILITIES 19

CORE ACTIONS

Assuming the homeless problem is solvable, how may we apply ourselves or focus our goals to meet that end?

Although the many actions in the Homeless and Housing Study are equally important, there are the preferential or impactful actions to prioritize. These prioritized actions will likely carry the peripheral actions, which are outlined in the Homeless and Housing Study, to their completion.

Which are the impactful actions to prioritize among the many important ones? Suggestions and advice are important here. The Core Actions chosen must impact and provide a structural foundations for solutions. The below seven prioritized actions are elected to be the most impactful actions for a remedy to homelessness.

  • Communications
  • Networks
  • Health and Social Services
  • Services & Programs
  • Pipelines
  • Oversight and Policies
  • Housing

Housing was the easiest and unanimously selected. The rest unfolded naturally from the Communications and Networks.

Discussed in the following pages are the details of the selected core actions and their webs of connectivities. Assuming that the above core actions would be the most impactful choices to spearhead our campaign, let’s proceed to discover their importance and develop their foundation.

COMMUNICATION

Strong communication is pertinent, and does not rest solely within one particular action. Communication among elected officials, communities, city agencies, nonprofits, businesses personnel, and others, is critical for cooperative widespread support and to achieve success in separate and mutual aims of this committee. Strong communication educates, informs, and empowers by:

  • Eliminating the Silo Affect
  • Developing relationship between vendors and providers
  • Developing relationship between providers and clients
  • Building trust and confidence
  • Including others in the process
  • Bringing in new ideas and new supporters to the cause

There are many agencies, non-profits, and people working tirelessly on the homeless issues. No need to be alone in the battle, power is in the numbers. Communication brings people and groups together to create synergy. The committee’s Communication action includes:

  • Alerting each other
  • Developing strategies
  • Educating each other
  • Sharing ideas
  • Supporting each other

The Communication action is naturally evolving as the network builds and its work continues. Communication helps provide a deeper understanding of the big picture as well as the nuances of our social problem.

The importance of our committee’s communication may not be so easily quantifiable, but the relevance cannot be denied when you have representatives from various nonprofits, City and state governing bodies, City Councils, city agencies, NYPD, medical profession, community, and more sitting together to support one another and discuss ways to resolve our homeless issue.

Networks

Networks are the result of pro active participants working, communicating, and advocating together: The Homeless and Housing Committee’s network includes, but not limited too, support groups, associates, peers, medical and social professionals, nonprofit, homeless services, volunteers, lawmakers, city officials, city agencies, community groups, BIDS, entrepreneurs, business operators, concerned citizens, police department, lawyers, church organizations, and others.

There are working models and analytical data that are being used and shared within our network. It’s encumbered upon the Homeless and Housing Committee to invite others to share their experiences and expertise for the widening of our network, continual education, and discovery of solutions. With added knowledge and determination abundant, solutions are forthcoming. The committee’s network will do what they do best, communicate, develop relations, improve and or create services and programs, and support endeavors for shared goals; moreover they will be the catalyst for progressive change.

PROGRAMS

There are supportive programs, and others which need development to improve the mental, emotional, and physical condition of persons within our community. To serve our homeless, nearly homeless, and other community members well, programs and services should be practical, nurturing, empowering and easily accessible. The goals (not written in stone) should be to:

  • Establish credentials (identifications), services (healthcare, doctors), and other basics
  • Assess circumstance and discover options 
  • Provide life skills
  • Educate or find pathways to higher learning
  • Develop community support
  • Add relief

Successful programs and services will build confidence and hope. Collecting and building a reservoir of programs and services to aid in a person’s wellbeing is primary. No one shoe fits all. 

Gathering a wide range of programs existing or in development.  for the city’s vulnerable population must be made known.

This action is already in the works; our committee partners are creating and and finding various useful workshops, that will fill a brochure, to build confidence and hope.

EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOPS

Workshops must empower, be cleverly constructed and chosen to provide tools for growth, and inspire action for person(s) to plot a way out of their precarious situation. They must provide relief, enjoyment, and community support for families struggling economically. Providing simplified access for children and parents are paramount.

Pastor Tiffany Henkel and Rev. Lesley-Ann Hix Tommy from Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries; Josephine Ismon, Education Council NYC District 2 and Midtown South Community Council’s (MSCC) Director of Youth, Education, & Human Rights; MSCC’s Sharon Jasprizza, Community Service Director and John Mudd, President; Judy Gross, Director of Literacy and Math Programs, Marlene Meyerson  JCC Manhattan; Charisma White; Gabra Zackman; and others are creating a list of existing, needed, and developing workshop programs, which could serve and empower persons who are struggling emotionally and economically.

The committee reached out to would be recipients of the Empowerment Workshops; the discussion led to a variety of content that could serve the public well (see current draft below).

Citizenship

IDs, Know Your Rights, citizenship classes (possibly in partnership with New Sanctuary Coalition)

Communication

Exercises in solution-focused problem solving, conflict-resolution, clear communication.

Cooking & Nutrition

Workshops on cooking will be included with each session, working to make dinner together. Cooking sessions will include:

  • Learning on nutrition
  • Meal planning
  • How to shop for food
  • Safe food handling, working toward achieving the food handler’s certificate

Can also be in partnership with Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project (Metro/Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries) and other neighborhood farms.

Creative Arts

Create art projects, building self-expression, confidence and imagination, while decompressing and healing.

Writing & Storytelling

Learn how to use writing as both a wellness tool and job skill; for self-expression and clear communication.

Day-to-Day & Navigating the System

Access to information on various daily programs and specific access for folks during the day (programs, soup kitchens, etc.). Knowledge about the shelter system: rules for shelters, drop-in centers, safe havens. Learn about using vouchers and housing access.

**Also including an advocacy component, specifically with Urban Pathways

Family Relationships

Caring for and connecting with children; relationship-building; story time.

How to keep families together through the shelter system.

Fitness

Yoga, Zumba, aerobics classes

Fun & Games

Relax and learn with a space to play games, increasing social skills, communication and trust.

Job Skills

Resume-writing, interviewing, job searching training. Potentially some GED training.

Possibly in partnership with Friends of the Highline.

Safety Planning

Looking at current situation, know what steps to take in certain events, know who to call and which organizations can help depending on the circumstance. Goal-setting and specifically how to achieve those goals.

Self-Esteem

Exercises in building confidence and valuing oneself. Wellness exercises and stress management; coping skills.

Sewing & Knitting

Learn how to knit and create scarves; learn to sew and use sewing to repair clothing; design new pieces.

Wise Spending

How, where, when to spend money; maximizing coupons and store points; budgeting; financial literacy and saving; building credit.

The above content needs are being further developed. Revisions are forthcoming. Once the needs and their practical application are established, current, developing, existing, and accessible workshops will be offered.

Effective programs and or various workshops would provide opportunities to educate, build confidence, add support, give direction, and instill hope.

Workshops are useful when combining programs with services. Pair any one or several of the above mentioned workshops with Laundry For Kids services. A service which embraces programs, workshops, or seminars, will add convenience and support without being burdensome.

SERVICES

Following are examples of a suggested, developing, and existing service:

Community Engagement Groups

As mentioned in the Long Term Actions of the Homeless and Housing Study, Community Engagement Groups, “…could engage, mentor, and empower…., and ultimately see a person out of their homeless condition or precarious position through to a healthier and more secure lifestyle.” These groups could be an arm of the network, and it fits well within the services. 

Community Engagement Groups may:

  • Include educators, professionals, social service experts, and client piers to lend their expertise, give confidence, act as a surrogate family where there are none
  • Assist or alert officials in oversight matters

Community Engagement Groups could lend much support not only to clients, but to the Homeless and Housing Committee, networks, and city agencies.

Laundry For Kids

Children are being denied an education because of their limited resources. The lack of fresh clean clothes discourages school attendance.  The basic necessity of having clean clothes will boost school attendance with children (see Laundry For Kids Campaign and Laundry For Kids proposal for more details). 

Health and Social Services

Some shelters have Health and Social Services (social worker, placement councilors, etc.) and basic services (bathrooms, showers, etc.) on site. 

Basic health and social services facts include:

  • The basic health and social programs are usually built into the intake process
  • Intake is needed to know who is being welcomed into the shelter system and to assess their needs 
  • The many health and social programs are major accessories to supportive housing models
    • The Homeless and Housing Study and professionals in the field affirm that, the many health and social programs are important for stability within the housing models: Supportive Housing, Housing First, Assisted Living, Nursing, and adult homes

Respite beds, many are which are provided by churches and nonprofits are mostly operated with volunteers and are without on site health professionals. Persons living on city streets, traveling through the pipelines and shelter system, to a place they call home depend on a caring, proactive, and efficient health and social services.

As it is with the supportive housing, once housed, an individual needs their community of support and various services to move toward an improved life—these accessories are important throughout the health, housing, and social structures and or systems.

Pipelines

The pipelines must provide a clear unclogged methods or gateways from homeless or nearly homeless state to home-stability. The pipeline’s repetitive performance and sustainability will depend upon its structures and oversight. The pipeline’s successful methodology or gateway requires us to recognize the nuances of the homeless or nearly homeless condition. 

In simple terms, the pipeline is a service for our consumer/clients, and to service them, there is a need to know them, and not in an abstract reference as the “Homeless.” And understanding their current financially, emotionally, mental, and or medically unstable position will be important to provide the right pipeline of services. 

The Categories of Conditions 

The Homeless and Housing Committee categorizes the varying homeless or nearly homeless conditions below (see category chart page xx):

  • Families
  • Youths 
  • LGBTQ
  • Elderly
  • Veterans
  • Justice System
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Health Crisis
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Nearly Homeless

A homeless or nearly homeless person under their prescribed category will benefit in accordance to their pipeline’s development and implementation.

Effective Resources

Resource sharing requires multitude of useable information disseminated quickly and efficiently; the effectiveness of a well structured pipeline will encourage hope in the client and faith toward their partnered outreach organization, social services, and or community group. Moreover, it will instill confidence in the system that was built to serve the people.

Although networks are practicing resource pooling they must be expanded further to service the clients variable needs and increasing population. 

Without structures or tool to help us coordinate and identify or promote available resources options can be easily forgotten about rushing through life or swimming in piles of work.

The progress and development of networks and identifying resources to service varied categories of conditions for a destabilized person call for innovative ways and tools to help us work efficiently. 

On a basic level the Street sheets, with contacts that can be responsive and effective tool for people’s need. On a more technological level, Street2Home web service could provide a huge swath of options, ‘a pipeline’ of opportunities, resources, and services to people with various financially, emotionally, mental, and or medical destabilizing issues.

Requirements of an Effective Pipeline

This brings us back to the committee’s considered most impactful actions, its core actions:

  • Communication
  • Network
  • Programs and Services
  • Health and Social Services
  • Oversight and Policies
  • Housing inventory

The core actions and pipelines continues to organically evolve as the committee continues its course in working toward standardizing and streamlining structures.

Supportive networks and effective pipelines (streamlined process to navigate systems to secure humane living conditions) must be burdensome free, and met with a housing supply. Until the resources out pace the growing population of the homeless client, the challenge is how do we work more efficiently with less until we find or build the supply to meet the needs.

POLICIES

Policies and Oversight go hand in hand with each other and are charted as so (see addendum C graph) but are discussed hereafter separately.

After communicating with various nonprofits, city agencies, and others, one of the clearer understanding is that inflexibility, inconsistent, conflicting, incongruence amongst the various agencies, nonprofits, and others offering health, housing, and social services.

This is clearly noted in the Homeless and Housing Study about Alejandro Medina’s two separate Mount Sinai hospital visit (first edition page xx). 

Conflicted policies between provider (of respite beds) and client (social services) were highlighted during the ESN January 2019 quarterly meeting when discussing the lack of bed usage among the churches which were offering the respite beds. 

Jeff Foreman, Care For The Homeless, noted the need for policy coherence and respite beds; he points to the successful Boston HCH Medical Repsite Facility as a positive working model (see Addendum xx).

KNOWLEDGE OF VARIOUS OPERATING PROCEDURES

  • A thorough understanding of the various policies from our large network will allow us to find a process through the quagmire of policies
  • The succinct standardized procedures must be easily comprehended from our partners’ (oversight agencies, care facilities, hospitals, social services, care givers, institutions, etc.)

Standardized and Streamlined Operating Procedures

  • Cohesive and standard universally accepted policies would be efficient, with the inclusion of flexible or alternate pathways so no one is overlooked
  • Bringing about a standardized process and alternative and flexible paths for support will require collecting and amalgamating of policies, and the willingness of the network to do so
  • If no collective policy can be met, a standardized operating procedures must be found to work with the collective and as an informative tool for the network, client, and public

If no standardized procedures cannot find a compromise among all parties within their particular services (respite beds, hospital care, etc.), and only with a fraternal group, the adopted policies must be loudly established, and the outliers kept as optional services, with standing invitation to join the network in any capacity that they deemed acceptable.

Oversight AND PREVENTION

Oversight is the overarching captain of the ship, and are needed with every action. Oversight and prevention are inherent with efficient policy and procedures, but lack in some private care facilities where profit overrides care. 

Effective oversight and Quality of Assurance ensure quality of care so people remain secure within their place of residency. Existing agencies (DHCR, Tenants Associations, Adult Protective Services, Justice Department, Health Department…) must be given support and empowered by strict standards of care so people can thrive and be protected in their current homes without stress. The agency empowerment comes from having effective laws, rules and regulations, workforce, and programing.

Eviction Protection Programs: 

NYC Home Base program (see Preventative Measure, under Long Term Actions within the Homeless and Housing Study for more details) is an effort to keep people within their homes, but the processes are often complicated for a troubled individual and maybe a monumental task without the right support. 

Further studies on the programs effectiveness, marketing, and measures of success are needed here.

Housing Vouchers

Nicole Myan, Support for the Underserved, SUS, points out that, “in order to get most housing vouchers, people need to actually become homeless and be in shelter for at least a day.” Once you lose housing, there is no getting it back, and we’ve added them into the case loads and system. Nicole’s suggests “looking at policies around vouchers and lowering the threshold on how to obtain one to include people who are tenuously housed or at risk of homelessness potentially even before the eviction process begins.”

Nicole further explains:

When homeless individuals do get housing vouchers, it is extremely difficult for them to find landlords who are willing to accept them. This means we could, and do, have a significant number of people in shelter who are approved for vouchers and looking for housing but cannot find anything because the landlords won’t accept them due to their voucher. This is an illegal practice in NYC but landlords come up with various reasons why people are not approved or will put the rent slightly above what the voucher will pay just so they do not have to take the voucher.

This has been confirmed by other group and is being discussed. This problem has not escaped the Department of Social Services (DSS), they’ve consolidated the voucher system to address particular issues…

Can the battle be won when growth overwhelms resources? That question drives toward the affordability in the housing market and economical structures within society, and will not be answered in this section.

The following section assesses the housing needs. 

HOUSING

Undoubtedly the need for various housing options, that are mentioned in the Homeless and Housing Study, with an emphasis on affordable, supportive, and housing first models, tops the list. We need housing to satisfy the end result for all the aforementioned efforts!

The current 2018 homeless numbers and annual growth estimates, casts a light upon the current inventory and inventory needs to meet the growth, the various housing models and their needs, and housing models that add dignity and stability.

The below questions with answers will help give an overview:

  • Current homeless numbers: 60,000 plus (more details please)
  • Current available housing (efficiency, 1BR, 2BR, other):
  • Current needs (efficiency, 1BR, 2BR, other):
  • Annualized homeless count (per?)
  • Annualized added housing (efficiency, 1BR, 2BR, other):
  • Annualized needs (efficiency, 1BR, 2BR, other):
  • Yearly growth:
  • Estimated future growth/decreases:
  • Future needs
  • How many units are coming on line
  • How many future units are coming on line
  • Square footage
  • Costs per square footage

Acknowledging the above rosy outlook that we’re tasked with, a plan to usher in those housing needs must be in play. Encouraging and incentivizing residential communities, protecting rent stabilized and rent control, and decreasing incentives on hotel development is a must.

Pushing others to rethink our landscape is one of our heavier lifts amongst our core actions. There are groups who understand this, some are within our growing network, and well underway with their plans. Busily and tirelessly groups are Lobbying for Affordable and Supportive Housing Development needs. Marc Greenberg and his coalition of faith leaders, Coalition for the Homeless, Breaking Ground, and others are lobbying, building, and acquiring properties so that we have a supply to accommodate the demand. 

Supporting those aforementioned actions, other actions, and developing actions to meet the housing crisis will be most important in ending the homeless crisis.

To be Continued: Pillars of this action need to be discussed and developed.

Auxiliary Spaces

This first point of entry and or desperate escape from the streets need to be a positive point of access, a resource center for available services. When a person is willing to use temporary shelters, drop-in centers or day spaces, that basic point of entry must be our opportunity.

  • Drop-in Centers are places for people to sit in chairs
    • A drop-in center is usually a last resort and a way to house someone for a night
    • These places of refuge need to be inviting, accessible, and provide a pathway to an individual success for an improved life 
    • Improvements are needed (this goes for shelters too), Beth Hofmeister, Legal Aid Attorney, says, the upgrades are happening 
      • But what is the checks and balances here? 
      • Can we share plans and see the progress? 
      • Can we talk about further improvements? 
      • Are they meeting the objectives of this committee’s assumed goals?

An exploration of the above questions are needed.

  • Day Spaces: 
    • The day spaces, for most (homeless, semi homeless, transients…), are the streets
    • There is a desperate need for day spaces for people to congregate
    • Day spaces could be another point of entry into a system urging people toward the end game, the reduction or end of homelessness

In considering day spaces, other questions arise:

  • Where can we create spaces for those intoxicated individuals sitting, sleeping, or laying about on sidewalks, tree guards, and road mediums of 9th Avenue and 39th Street or any other corner?
  • What would encourage people to leave the streets for an indoor day space or recreational facility? 
  • What can we add to day spaces that may be of benefit or support for people? 
  • What can we add that will elicit involvement, discussions, and more from individuals? 

Persons taking advantage of drop-in centers and day spaces would need no less than that is inherent with the supportive housing model design to move a person to find a direction or new pathway. 

However, when all is said and done, without inventory, people’s cooperation to provide and shape that inventory, we’re are FUCKED!

Pipeline Voucher breakdown

Notes:

Josh

Bronx works opened Mental health city shelter

AFEC Documentation diligent, adoption papers, etc

LGBTQ

Mental disable how ware we dealing with them

Oversight 

case manager

Gap annylsis

The variety Street homeless 

shortage of case worker

supportive housing

respite threshold too high

limited vouchers

Mental health

Individual

Shelters

Smaller case loads

Medical staffed 

1.9 cost for hospitalization

kidney disease

HPD partner with DHS

2011 Advantage program pushed people in the voucher

Consolidate 2018 November

Section 8 was a federal subsidy more stable (no more)

Too many vouchers , 

Streamline voucher made it more attractive to landlords, voucher covers utilities, deposit, damages, veterans have priorities, 

109,000 into permanent housing

264,000 enter into the program

Turning the tide

Preventative

Homebase programs expanded 

Connect people to the vouchers

Package approved

HRA responsible for processing

421A

Management and HPD Voucher system document asks

Might you know any charities that make loans to low income responsible

> folks trying to purchase homes. My elevator man, who I adore, is turning

> 40 and trying to get his family in a house

> or condo because right now they are in a one bedroom and it’s very tight

> for the three of them. As he says, “it’s hard to save up like 50 to

$40,000

> for a downpayment with everyday lifestyle bills” He asked me if I know

some

> type of charity for people that are not completely homeless but are trying

> to get to the next level in life for their families.

> Any leads would be appreciated!!

> Thanks!

> Alice

ADDENDUM: LIFE SKILLS WORKSHOP POSSIBILITIES

Citizenship

IDs, Know Your Rights, citizenship classes (possibly in partnership with New Sanctuary Coalition)

Communication

Exercises in solution-focused problem solving, conflict-resolution, clear communication.

Cooking & Nutrition

Workshops on cooking will be included with each session, working to make dinner together. Cooking sessions will include learning on nutrition, meal planning, how to shop for food and safe food handling, working toward achieving the food handler’s certificate. Can also be in partnership with Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project (Metro/Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries) and other neighborhood farms.

Creative Arts

Create art projects, building self-expression, confidence and imagination, while decompressing and healing.

Day-to-Day & Navigating the System

Access to information on various daily programs and specific access for folks during the day (programs, soup kitchens, etc.). Knowledge about the shelter system: rules for shelters, drop-in centers, safe havens. Learn about using vouchers and housing access.

**Also including an advocacy component, specifically with Urban Pathways

Family Relationships

Caring for and connecting with children; relationship-building; story time.

How to keep families together through the shelter system.

Fitness

Yoga, Zumba, aerobics classes

Fun & Games

Relax and learn with a space to play games, increasing social skills, communication and trust.

Job Skills

Resume-writing, interviewing, job searching training. Potentially some GED training.

Possibly in partnership with Friends of the Highline.

Safety Planning

Looking at current situation, know what steps to take in certain events, know who to call and which organizations can help depending on the circumstance. Goal-setting and specifically how to achieve those goals.

Self-Esteem

Exercises in building confidence and valuing oneself. Wellness exercises and stress management; coping skills.

Sewing & Knitting

Learn how to knit and create scarves; learn to sew and use sewing to repair clothing; design new pieces.

Wise Spending

How, where, when to spend money; maximizing coupons and store points; budgeting; financial literacy and saving; building credit.

Writing & Storytelling

Learn how to use writing as both a wellness tool and job skill; for self-expression and clear communication.

As suggested by Charisma White:

  • Shopping  Network
    • How, where, when, what to shop for home, family, and personal
    • Maximize coupons, store points and Gift cards
    • Difference between wants and necessity
  • Sewing and Knitting
    • Repairs, design and make
    • Including the added benefit of increased dexterity (?)
  • Home Decor
    • Design, repair, and maintenance
  • Games and Rewards
    • Social skills
    • Communication
    • Networking
    • Trusting
  • Cooking and healthy eating on a budget
  • Fitness
  • Navigating the shelter system
    • Rules for shelters, drop in centers, safe havens
  • Daily Pursuits
    • Research the various daily programs
    • Trial programs
  • Citizenship
    • Increase awareness of citizenship and responsibilities

MSCC suggested and developing workshops:

  • Workshops similar to Urban Pathways’ “Client Advocacy Group,” that focuses on learning about resources and their providers, and agencies and their services
  • MSCC’s Marni Halasa and Thomas Vilorio’s Arts, crafts, and cultural programs could be useful by providing children with confidence and relationship building activities while giving parents time to attend to other family needs
  • Italo’s Medelius, Work Programs & Recruitment Manager, Friends of the High Line, job development program or similar, may play a role
  • Urban Farm projects could provide education experience and other opportunities 
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/renters/mitchell-lama-rentals.page
https://www.brickunderground.com/blog/2014/10/mitchell_lama_affordable_housing_guide

There are questions to be asked and answered when assessing the effectiveness of programs:

  • What do the clients want?
  • What does the client need to further progress? 
  • What resources are lacking and what additional resources can be added to the first points of entry (drop-in centers, day spaces) that will provide a pathway from street to home?
  • What is the rate of success for the programs?
  • What methodology can be use to track the programs?
  • Who is being served and how are persons progressing?
  • How may oversight improve quality assurance (QA)?

The above questions can also be applied to all programing associated with the Laundry for Kids and other like services. Detailing answers to the questions will help reticulate a plan. Charting results will ensure effective programing.  

xx