News Articles

Homeless in NYC: We Can Do Better

By Catherine Kirch 10/9/19

Those living on the streets face hunger, lack of shelter, and—especially as the weather continues to cool—freezing temperatures. Violence, especially in the past few weeks, is also a huge risk facing our homeless population.

While homeless shelters across New York City host over 60,000 people every night, there are still many more who must find places to sleep in the harsh landscape of the city streets and subway system.

We can do better

Catholic Charities of New York serves the homeless population in a number of ways, including providing emergency shelter and preparing people for employment.

Helping the homeless find safe places to stay is just one way we can serve these New Yorkers. Catholic Charities collaborates with community organizations, including parishes and other groups, that provide temporary shelter for the homeless. Catholic Charities agencies also provide transitional housing in case of emergencies—like abuse or natural disaster—that might displace people from their home.

Not only is it important to provide shelter, but it is also crucial to support people on their journey to overcoming homelessness and achieving financial independence. Finding a job is an important step toward securing housing and financial stability, but it is not always easy. It is especially difficult for the most vulnerable homeless populations, including immigrants, people with disabilities, young people aging out of foster care, and those who have been out of the workforce for a long time.

Catholic Charities offers employment training to both get and keep a job. In addition to developing concrete job skills, Catholic Charities also helps job seekers master English and study for high school equivalency exams.

Part of the Solution

Part of the Solution (POTS) is one of Catholic Charities’ family of 90 agencies that helps transition individuals from the streets to personal autonomy. What began as a community-building soup kitchen in 1982 is now a multi-service agency serving the Bronx.

POTS calls themselves a “one-stop shop” to help people gain self-sufficiency, offering a wide variety of services and solutions for anyone in crisis. They address basic food and medical needs through their community dining room, food pantry, and medical and dental clinic. POTS also offers shower facilities, a barbershop, and a clothing room to address hygiene needs and prepare job seekers for interviews. Individuals can get legal help through their legal clinic, case management services, and Immigrant Justice Corps, and can develop job skills through their workforce development program.

What makes POTS especially effective is not only their comprehensive programming, but also their philosophy. POTS strives to provide a warm, hospitable, professional environment, where people are treated with compassion and respect. POTS understands that these vulnerable populations not only have basic survival needs, but also deserve to be treated with dignity.

In the wake of the violence inflicted on those five homeless men last weekend, it is important to not only protect but to also empower our most vulnerable populations. Together, we can help our fellow New Yorkers overcome the many trials of poverty and make our streets safer for all of us.