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THEDOEFUND RECOMMENDATIONSANDREFORMS FORHOMELESSSERVICESINNEWYORKCITY JANUARY28,2016 TheDoeFund

THEDOEFUND

RECOMMENDATIONSANDREFORMS

FORHOMELESSSERVICESINNEWYORKCITY

JANUARY28,2016

TheDoeFund Communications&PublicPolicy

232East84thStreet

NewYork,NY10028

646‐672‐4236

RECOMMENDATIONSANDREFORMSFORHOMELESSSERVICESINNEWYORKCITY AFourPointPlantoEnhanceServicesandOutcomesforHomelessNewYorkers

RECOMMENDATIONSANDREFORMSFORHOMELESSSERVICESINNEWYORKCITY

AFourPointPlantoEnhanceServicesandOutcomesforHomelessNewYorkers

ThecurrenthomelessservicessysteminNewYorkCityasadministeredbytheDepartmentofHomeless Services(DHS)focusesexclusivelyontheacuteoutcomeof“beingwithoutshelter”ratherthanthe contributingandsystemiccausesofhomelessness.Thus,thesystem’sprimaryconcern(andsolelegal responsibilityengenderedbythe“righttoshelter”) isprovidinginstantaccesstosheltertohomeless individualsandfamilies.

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Serviceswhichsupportindependentlivingandaddressproblemswhichhaveledtohomelessness(i.e.

sobrietysupport,lifeskills,vocationaltraining,mentalhealthservices,paidtransitionalwork)arescarce,

underfunded,andavailableonlythroughadisconnectedgroupofindependent,non‐profitproviders

whichworkoutsidetheDepartmentofHomelessServices.Inordertoaccessthoseservices,individuals

mustseekthemoutfrommultiplesourceswithoutacoordinating,administrativebodytoprovide

continuityofcare.

Theresultisasystemoutofbalance:anunevenmixofqualitynonprofitshelterproviders,poor conditionsatcity‐run“assessment”shelters(thefrontdoorofthesystem),andunsafe,substandard for‐profitshelterswhichhavewoncontractsin“emergency”conditionsandprofitedgreatlyfromthe sufferingofclientsreferredtothem. Withoutthesoft‐skillsandtoolstoconveythemselvesoutofthe sheltersystem,familiesandindividualsarestayinglongerthanever, causingasystemalready overburdenedtoseize.

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Thecurrentsystem,asimplemented,isnolongerfunctionalorsustainable.Wethereforeproposethis

seriesofreformstoimproveoutcomes,reducewasteandstrain,andprovidethebestpossibleservices

toNewYorkersinneed.

1 RobinHerman(August27,1981)“PactRequiresCitytoShelterHomelessMen”NewYorkTimes.

2 AndrewRice(December1,2013)“WhyRunaSlumIfYouCanMakeMoreMoneyHousingtheHomeless?”New

YorkMagazine. http://nymag.com/news/features/podolsky‐homeless‐shelters‐2013‐12/index1.html 3 Mayor’sManagementReport(2015)pages195‐96.

Recommendations 1. Allowonlynon‐profitorganizationstooperatetransitionalresidencesandservicesfor

Recommendations

1. Allowonlynon‐profitorganizationstooperatetransitionalresidencesandservicesfor

homelessindividualsandfamilies.Removeandprohibitallfor‐profitcompaniesfromthe

transitionalandcluster‐sitenetwork.Cedeassessmentand“front‐door”sheltersfrom

governmentcontroltononprofitoperators.

2. RestructureandstreamlineDHSasanadministrativebody,connectingandcoordinatinga

nonprofitecosystemofserviceproviders.Leverageoutsideproviders,investintheirprograms,

andutilizetechnologytomonitorclientpathsandoutcomestofacilitatepermanentexitsfrom

thesheltersystemandlong‐termstabilityforthemselvesandtheirfamilies.

3. Merge the“righttoshelter”witha“mandateofservices.”Automaticallyengagetheservice providernetworkforeachclientandrequireparticipationintransitionalservicestosteadilyand continuouslyconveypeopleoutofthehomelessservicessystem.

4. Createanewservicespathwayforundomiciledindividualsundercommunitysupervision

(parole).Recognizethespecialeconomic,vocationalandsocialconditionsofthosereturning

fromprisonandprovideatransitionalpathoutsidethetraditionalsheltersystemtoreduce

recidivismandarrestgenerationalcyclesofincarcerationandhomelessness.

Recommendation1:Full“non‐profitization”ofthesheltersystem

Recommendation1:Full“non‐profitization”ofthesheltersystem

In1990,acommissionchairedbyAndrewCuomowasconvenedbyMayorDavidDinkinstocreatea

citywidestrategytocombathomelessness. Inthereportpublishedbythepanel,“TheWayHome,”the DepartmentofHomelessServiceswasenvisionedasanadministrativebody,responsibleforthefunding, oversight,anddispositionofnonprofitshelteroperators. Today,thesheltersystem’sfrontdooris operatedbythecitygovernmentthroughnotoriouslyovercrowdedandunsafeassessmentshelters.

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Corruptfor‐profitcompanieshavealsojoinedthesystem,luredbytheopportunitytosecuredealswith thecityworthhundredsofmillionsofdollarsonlittlemorethanahandshake;conductbusinessthrough shellnonprofitorganizationssubjecttovirtuallynooversight;andprofitfromapopulationunlikelyto reportmalfeasance. 5

Recently,somefor‐profitshelterprovidersandlandlordshavecomeunderscrutinyfordangerousand unsanitaryconditions.Yetoverhalfofallfamiliesinthehomelesssystemstillresideinfor‐profit residences. Singleadultslivingonthestreetsaytheyprefertorisktheirlivesinsub‐zerotemperatures thanrepeattraumaticexperiencesatcitysheltersandfor‐profit“three‐quarterhouses.” 6

Insteadofincreasingsupplyandthereforethenumberofpeopleservedbythesystem,thegovernment

andfor‐profitsectormaybeunintentionallyinhibitingpeoplefromaccessingbonafide,effective

services;increasingstreethomelessnessandprolongingstaysintransitionalfacilitiesatthesametime.

Wethereforerecommendapurenonprofitecosystemoftransitionalfacilities,includingtheshelter

system’s“frontdoor.”TheDepartmentofHomelessServices’rolewillfocusontheadministrationand

fundingofservices,trackingofdataandpopulationdynamics,andpolicyimplementation;whilethe

4 TheWayHome:ANewDirectioninSocialPolicyReportoftheNewYorkCityCommissionontheHomeless

5 AndrewRice(December1,2013)“WhyRunaSlumIfYouCanMakeMoreMoneyHousingtheHomeless?”New

6 ChaunceyAlcorn,etal.(January4,2016)“HorrorstoriesshowwhyNYC’shomelessresistsheltersdespitefrigid

temperatures”NewYorkDailyNews.

privatesector’srolewillbelimitedtolegitimatebusinessespursuingdevelopmentofnewaffordable housingprojects.

privatesector’srolewillbelimitedtolegitimatebusinessespursuingdevelopmentofnewaffordable

housingprojects.

Recommendation2:AstreamlinedCityroleandacoordinated,intelligentreferralnetwork

Whilesheltercantemporarilyalleviatetheconditionofhomelessness,itdoesnothingtoaddressthe

rootcausesofit,whichrangefromtheobviousandstraightforward(financialhardship,forexample,or

seriousmentalillness)tonuancedandinterrelated(aperiodofincarcerationduetodrugabusewhich

interruptededucationandprecipitatedlong‐termunemployment,familialalienation,andfinally

homelessness).

Yettherearehundredsofhighqualitynonprofitproviderswhospecializeinaddressingmanycomorbid

andcontributingfactorstohomelessness,butwhoremainoutsidethecity’shousing‐focused

infrastructure.Ironically,toreceivehelpfromtheseproviders—helpthatwillconveythemoutofthe

homelesssystem—anindividualorfamilymustseekthemoutindependently.Thatiswhywepropose

connectingtheseindependentproviders,fundingtheirprogramsinnewservicecontracts,and

coordinatingtheirworkthroughacentralizedcity‐runadministrativehub.

DHS’rolemustthereforechangefromoverseer‐operatortoadministrativenervecenterforan

ecosystemofnonprofitserviceproviders.Thisreenvisionedcityroleandthenetworkitwillcreatewill

bethefirsttruecontinuumofcareforhomelessNewYorkersandaffordeachacustomizedservice

packageassembledfromthisflexiblenetworkofserviceproviders.

Usingnewcasemanagementanddatabasetechnologies,thecitycouldmonitorbothindividual

outcomesandsystem‐widetrends;identify,fund,andpromotebestpracticesmoreefficiently;cut

waste;andreleaseemergencyfundingforprogramswhendemandsuddenlyrises.Asdataamassover

time,surgesinhomelessnesscouldbepredictedbycitymonitorsand,throughtargetedinterventions,

evenprevented.

Recommendation3:TheRighttoShelterandaMandateforServices

Recommendation3:TheRighttoShelterandaMandateforServices

SupplydrivesdemandintheNewYorkCitysheltersystem,meaningnonumberofbedsalonewill correctandreverseagrowinghomelesspopulation. Manyhaveexpressedlegitimateconcernthatthe “righttoshelter,”litigatedintoexistenceintheearly1980s,hasdonemoreharmthangood, putting NewYorkCitytaxpayersonthehooktomeetinexhaustibledemandandattractingindividualsfrom outsidethecitywhodecidethatNewYorkisan“easier”placetobehomeless. 8

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Automaticallyengagingservicesthroughthenonprofitnetworkforeachclientwillconveyindividuals outofhomelessnessmoreeffectively anddissuadeoutsidepopulationsfromseekingobligation‐free housinginNewYorkCity—allwithoutnegativelyimpactingthosewhowouldhavesoughtserviceson theirownwhilereceivingtransitionalhousingservices.

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Byprescribingaminimumsetofservicesbasedonclientcategory(e.g.employmentservicesand vocationaltrainingforthelong‐termunemployed;mentalhealthservicesforthosewhoneedthem; emotionalsupportandeducationresourcesforchildren; etc),the“righttoshelter”isnolongera never‐ending,infinitelyexpensivecommitmentforthecity,butastartingpointforindividualstoentera systemdesignedreducerelianceoncityservicesovertime.

Recommendation4:Clearingapathhomefromprison

Currently,thereareover2,000menunderstatesupervisionwhoarehomelessinNewYorkCity,with

thousandsmoreparoleesonthevergeofhomelessnessduetoalackofdomesticstabilityorpoor employmentprospects. Yetthecityhasfailedtoinvestinascalablere‐entrysolutiontomeettheir needs.

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7 CecliaW.Dugger(January13,1994)“MayorUrgedtoRedefineShelterPact”NewYorkTimes.

8 ReuvenBlau(July31,2012)“Out‐of‐townhomelessfamiliesarefloodingNYCshelters”NewYorkDailyNews.

9 “StrategicActionPlanonHomelessness”(March2007)UnitedStatesDepartmentofHealthandHumanServices.

Asolddrugsentencesexpireandtensofthousandsofmenreturnfromupstate,NewYorkCitywillbe

Asolddrugsentencesexpireandtensofthousandsofmenreturnfromupstate,NewYorkCitywillbe

challengedbyanewkindofhomelessness:onethatresultsfromyearsordecadesofisolationand

deprivationinthecriminaljusticesystem,requiringaholistic,integratedservicemodelwithbothshort

terminterventions(transitionalhousing)andlong‐terminvestmentsinanindividual’ssuccess

(vocationaltraining,paidwork,education,etc.).

Thelinksamonghomelessness,druguse,crime,andrecidivismarewellestablished,asaretheircoststo

society.Interveningassoonasanindividualisreleasedintohomelessnesswithaspeciallydesigned,

structuredpathprovidesthebestchancetobreakthecyclesofhomelessnessandrecidivism,reduce

crimeandpressureonthehomelesssystem,andmitigatetaxpayercosts.

Wethereforeproposeare‐entryservicetrackthatbridgesthegapbetweentheStateDepartmentof

CorrectionandCommunitySupervisionandthecity’sDepartmentofHomelessServices.Thistrackwill

divertindividualsoutofthetraditionalsingleadultsystemandaddressthespecificvocational,

educational,andsocialneedsoftheformerlyincarcerated,inhibitingrecidivism,restoring

self‐sufficiency,andbreakingthegenerationalcycleofhomelessandincarcerationfortheirfamilies.