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...And You Gave Me A Bed

Posted on January 15, 2020 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

By Jim Sliney Jr

In December we told you about Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s new initiative to reduce homelessness in New York City. The initiative, called “The Journey Home” has been ramping up but we wanted you to know specifically what Catholic Charities (a partner in the plan) is doing to help.

WHAT CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF NEW YORK HAD BEEN DOING, ALREADY

Catholic Charities of New York provides over 6.5 million meals each year to those who are hungry, including the homeless. We also provide support to keep families in their homes so they don’t become homeless. For those already homeless, we support temporary or transitional residences, and have connected thousands of individuals and families with affordable housing resources. We have even been involved in physically scouring the City in the Homeless Outreach Population Estimates program to make sure the City knows how many street-homeless persons there are, and thus how much resource to allocate to helping them.

New York City has a homelessness crisis, but the efforts carried out by Catholic Charities and others are exceptional. Cardinal Dolan told Catholic New York, “I hear from our homeless population that in this city they’re treated with dignity and respect, that they’re not looked upon as statistics, as cases, as numbers, but as people with a name, people made in the image and likeness of God. People who simply want a safe and stable place to live.”

WHAT WE ARE ADDING

One part of “The Journey Home” includes adding beds in Safe Havens. Safe Havens are facilities with physical and program characteristics specifically targeted toward homeless individuals living on the streets who may be resistant to accepting other services, like traditional shelters. Safe Havens have on-site services and outreach staff who work closely with clients to deepen relationships, help stabilize their lives, and, ultimately, encourage them to transition further off the streets and into permanent housing. Catholic Charities has long been a vital part of the function of Safe Havens in NYC.

Catholic Charities is presenting the City with five sites that could be turned into Safe Havens. These include former convents, rectories, and churches that, if accepted, will be renovated into Safe Haven facilities.

According to the City, the number of Safe Haven and stabilization beds citywide has tripled since 2014, bringing the total up from 600 to more than 1800 today, thanks to the help of community and faith-based partnerships like CCNY. The new beds in this plan will “increase the citywide total to 2800 low-barrier transitional beds dedicated to serving unsheltered individuals.”

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan told Catholic New York in December, “Catholic Charities will be intimately involved in that project.” And CCNY has precisely the right experience to perform this task well. Msgr. Sullivan said CCNY would continue to provide “similar types of assistance as we are in the already existing safe haven in Holy Rosary parish in East Harlem. We are looking to continue those programs and services in a similar way with maybe even some additional responsibilities for those shelters as they begin to be opened.”

ISN’T HOMELESSNESS TOO BIG A PROBLEM TO BE SOLVED?

One could be forgiven for thinking that homelessness is just part of City life. Why do we think we can do this now? The Monsignor told Catholic New York “The danger is that because the problem is so big, we say we can’t solve it, and then we say we can’t do anything. That’s nonsense. We can do a lot. We can take positive steps, and that’s what this initiative is. Catholic Charities is very, very pleased to work with a partner to help move this forward.”

By creating partnerships and coalitions that bring vital skills and resources together, CCNY can (and does) accomplish great things. No task is so daunting that it cannot be done.

Because for those who believe, all things are possible.