April 20th, 2010
With the resignation of Department of Homeless Services Director Robert Hess, many of the recent policy changes that the department has threatened to enforce have been picked up by the press. WNYC has reported on the city’s plan to require formerly homeless tenants to pay 30 percent of their income towards rent. They spoke with a broker who said that many landlords don’t want to rent to homeless families as they fear delays in payment.
Because these tenants have very low incomes or possibly even stipends, it’s virtually impossible for them to keep up with the monthly rent. Praxis staff and clients have been vocal against this policy and have taken this fight from City Hall to Albany.
The new director will be Seth Diamond, the executive deputy commissioner at the Human Resources Administration. Mr. Diamond was first appointed by Giuliani during his first term as Mayor.
Diamond discussed his new goals with The New York Times, “setting high expectations for people, supporting them as they try and reach those expectations, strongly supporting people who go to work, and having some consequences for people who fail to take advantage of some of the opportunities that we make available.”
Coalition for the Homeless senior policy analyst Patrick Markee was quoted as saying, “Given that we’ve got record homelessness in New York City, the serious need was for a change in direction…the appointment of Diamond does not send that message.” The new commissioner, he says, “seems to have a philosophy that homelessness is somehow the failure of families and individuals who are homeless. So it’s a troubling thought.”
We’ll be following this closely, so check back to the blog for updates.
April 14th, 2010
In 1997 a New York state law required homeless people to pay rent if they could afford it. However, the city never adhered to this law. Last year the city attempted to charge rent but dropped these plans when the Legal Aid Society threatened a lawsuit.
Enforcing this law would require some shelter residents to pay as much as 44% of their income. This is scheduled to go into effect as early as September and would raise anywhere from $2 million to $3 million a year.
Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs claims that 15% of homeless people in shelters earn enough money to pay rent. She further stated that the amount would be on a sliding scale depending on income. A family of three making $10,000 a year would pay $36 a month.
“It makes far more sense to allow those families to save their meager funds in order to be able to get out of the shelter system sooner,” added Steven Banks, chief attorney of the Legal Aid Society.
Is this really fair to burden those who have the least in this rough economic climate? To start a discussion about this issue, join Praxis on facebook.
April 1st, 2010
Praxis recently lost one of our clients at the Lincoln. She was admired by both staff and fellow residents. And she had graciously agreed to be a part of our ongoing photography portrait project. You may have seen some of these in the main office. Her photo will be on display at the Lincoln soon.
We’re all greatly affected by this loss as Praxis staff really cares about the health and well-being of residents- like a family.
Recently, the staff at the Riverside received words of encouragement from a former client.
Hello Mr. Harrington and staff. This is my way of saying thank you for a very pleasant stay at the annex. I usually don’t write thank you letters. However, I made a promise to myself to start showing some kind of appreciation other than a simple thank you for people that have helped me in one way or another. I wish I was in a position to do more but unfortunately I’m not. I would also like to commend you and your staff for your outstanding professionalism and hospitality. Once again, thank you, thank you, and thank you!!!
When we get thanks like that, it keeps us all going even when things get tough. We’re here to help people and receiving such kind feedback is always appreciated.
March 22nd, 2010
Praxis has closed on its purchase of a lot in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. This site will be used for a new purpose-built permanent supportive housing facility that utilizes green technology.
The empty (and incredibly large) lot has a ton of potential and we look forward to following the progress.
Cleaning up the lot in Wakefield
A view from across the road
March 15th, 2010
Last week, Praxis staff and clients took to the steps of City Hall to protest possible budget cuts to HIV/AIDS housing. In these tough economic times, supporting those who need help the most is crucial.
After the rally, Praxis CAB President James Dean spoke at a meeting inside City Hall to address these city budget concerns.
March 1st, 2010
The New York City Health Department has reported that overdose deaths declined sharply in 2008 to the lowest levels since 1999. Officials attribute this to the distribution of naloxone, which when used during an overdose can quickly neutralize the effects of opiates. This has drastically cut the number of fatal drug overdoses in New York State.
The report states that deaths fell 27% from 874 in 2006 to 666 in 2008. Drug overdose remains the third leading cause of premature death among New Yorkers between the ages of 25 to 34.
Praxis is a harm reduction advocate and its staff is trained in the event of an opioid overdose. For more information on these life saving techniques, visit the video section of the website.
February 24th, 2010
Recently several of the Praxis CAB have been actively lobbying in Albany. Ramon Valasquez has been campaigning for legislation to end prison-based gerrymandering. CAB Member Michele Alexander and CAB President James Dean have also attended meetings in Albany in regards to the 30% Rent Cap Bill, which recently passed in New York State Senate. And yesterday, Praxis CAB members attended the Albany AIDS Awareness Day 2010.
Praxis clients are making a difference for all of us. To read more about this legislation, make sure to check out the March newsletter.
February 8th, 2010
The Bronx Veterans Parade Committee in conjunction with the Veterans In Positive Action Inc. is holding a benefit fundraiser on Thursday, 22 April 2010 in Throgs Neck. For more information on this black tie event, please contact Sister Dolores Steele at (718) 506-6533 or SGM Santiago at (646) 251-4935.
This information was passed along to us through one of our staff members at the Lincoln, who is not only a veteran but an active participant in the Bronx Veterans Parade.
February 4th, 2010
HUD defines permanent supportive housing as long-term, community-based housing that has supportive services for homeless individuals with disabilities. This type of supportive housing enables special needs populations to live as independently as possible in a permanent setting. The supportive services may be provided by the organization managing the housing or coordinated by the applicant and provided by other public or private service agencies. Permanent housing can be provided in one structure or several structures at one site or in multiple structures at scattered sites.
Permanent supportive housing for Praxis clients often means stability not just in housing, but health. Study upon study has proven that permanent supportive housing enables individuals to become productive members of society. Many people placed in permanent supportive housing have never had a home of their own. For those living with a chronic illness, not having a home can mean the difference between life and death. When one is struggling just to find a place to live, healthcare becomes less of a priority.
According to a Lewin Group study from 2004, supportive housing also saves money. The following numbers indicate the cost per night for each service, whether it be prison or a shelter.
- Supportive Housing $41.85
- Shelter $54.42
- Prison $74.00
- Jail $164.57
- Mental Hospital $467
- Hospital $1185
By giving people a home and supportive services, this also dramatically cuts down the rate of emergency room visits, and thus also cuts costs to the general community.
The supportive services that residents of permanent supportive housing sites receive are also invaluable. Residents have case workers who help them with life skills as well as with maintaining their health by ensuring they get to appointments and maintaining their drug regimen.
At Praxis, we’ve seen people literally come in with nothing but the clothes on their backs and they’ve gone on to live in their own apartments. Countless residents have gone on to further their education and become active members of the communities in which they live.
It’s simple. Housing saves lives.
January 29th, 2010
Mayor Bloomberg has proposed further budget cuts of $4 million, which would directly effect New York’s HIV/AIDS population. These cuts would eliminate 248 HASA case worker positions through 2011. This would make it even more difficult for HASA clients to access public benefits, and could lead to an even greater homeless population.
Almost 45,000 low-income New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS and their families depend on HASA case workers to gain housing and services. Case workers help clients not only find housing, but they also help provide access to healthcare. Supportive housing provides stability to those who may otherwise engage in risky behavior, thus reducing new infection rates and also helping people live longer and more productive lives.
These proposed cuts would be in addition to the $4 million city/statewide Scatter Site II program elimination in 2009.
It’s not too late to voice your concern over these newly announced further budget cuts. Please contact your City Council Member through the Council switchboard at (212) 788-7100 or visit www.council.nyc.gov.