Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Care for the Homeless Holds Second Speakers’ Bureau Class Where Clients Learn to “Advocate for Themselves”

Care for the Homeless began the Speakers’ Bureau in September 2013 as a program to help homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers tell their stories and advocate for changes in homeless policy in New York City.  From presentations at universities such as Pratt, John Jay and Mt. Saint Vincent in the Bronx, to elementary school classrooms, to advocacy events and city council hearings, our first class of ‘Certified Advocates’ have told their stories to a wide-variety of New Yorkers, sharing the message that we can end homelessness as we know it.

This past weekend January 17th and 18th saw the second course of Speakers’ Bureau applicants, each a CFH client who has experienced homelessness in New York City,  improve their public speaking and learn about housing policies and advocacy techniques. The program is full of dedicated New Yorkers who want to take a part in calling community leaders to greater action in solving the homeless crisis.

The class was taught by Jeff Foreman, CFH Policy Director and Aaron Brown, a professional public speaking instructor who generously volunteered his time and talents to help bring in the next round of CFH ‘Certified Advocates.’ The speakers went through an intensive 12 hour training to learn how to relate their compelling personal stories to policies to advocate for.

“I’m taking what I learned here back to my community because housing is a human right and I want to let people know that we can end homelessness.” said CFH Client George Phipps. The new applicants will practice their new advocacy skills in an upcoming ‘Certified Advocate’ graduation.

Care for the Homeless’ new ‘Certified Advocates’ include:
                                     George Phipps
                                     Monica Sayers
                                     Brenda Turner
                                     Raymond West
Presentations featuring the Certified Advocates are available to interested groups by contacting Jeff Foreman in the Policy Office at 212-366-4459, ext. 206 or via email at policy@cfhnyc.org.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

61st Anniversary – FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

“the right of every family to a decent home”
by Jeff Foreman, Policy Director at Care for the Homeless

Sunday, January 11, marked the 61st anniversary of President Franklin Roosevelt’s renowned
“Second Bill of Rights” Speech, still remembered and celebrated by social justice advocates and those who work for better policies to fight poverty and homelessness.

It’s interesting to recognize that FDR made his famous rights commitment not during the Depression, but at the height of the Second World War. In his State of the Union address that year the President argued it was time to commit to a new set of standards, a “second bill of rights,” that he referred to as an eight point “economic bill of rights”.

Roosevelt included in his plan to assure equality in the pursuit of happiness an enumerated “right of every family to a decent home.” He also included “the right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health” as well as rights like adequate food and clothing, employment and education.

Roosevelt spoke to a nation that had dramatically recovered economically from the Depression. He told us despite a higher standard of living we can’t be content “…no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people – whether it be one-third, or one-fifth or one-tenth – is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

Those rights remind us at Care for the Homeless of our own mission to provide health care, services and shelter to New York City’s most vulnerable and our commitment to prevent, fight and end homelessness.

Photo by Nancy Ribeck

Friday, January 9, 2015

Did you know...

On Monday, January 5th, Care for the Homeless got together to discuss Mayor de Blasio’s first year in housing policy. The lively conversation covered the Mayor’s housing plan and recently begun LINC programs that issue rental subsidies to help people move from shelter into housing. Get up to speed on NYC housing policy and join the discussion during Care for the Homeless 1st Monday Policy Briefings! Next discussion will be held Mon., February 2nd, 2015 at 5 pm. Want to attend? Send us an email at policy@cfhnyc.org

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

RIP, Mario Cuomo

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

For New Yorkers who lived through the ’80s and cared about helping people in need, the passing of former Governor Mario Cuomo, while not entirely unexpected, was personal.  One of only 5 Empire State Governors who served more than 2 terms in the last 175 years, among them giants of history like Al Smith, Tom Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller, Cuomo loomed large for a generation in the U.S.

The first Governor Cuomo reveled in ideas, words and perhaps ironies. He was a near baseball star who would have traded his political celebrity for baseball stardom. He was thought of as the next-Presidential-hopeful, but couldn't quite convince himself to run. He was famous for a 1984 political convention keynote address he never considered a good speech, that inspires those who hear it today. He died on the day his son, our current governor, was sworn into his second term.

Cuomo’s 1984 speech came at a critical time. It was the Reagan era, well into the process of throwing off a “liberal” political paradigm that dominated policy for generations to adopt a conservative view with a smaller role for government and a less generous social contract. Politics was shifting from fighting poverty and homelessness to cutting spending and stressing personal responsibility.

In that context Cuomo spoke about the needs of vulnerable people, specifically including homeless people, when he responded to President Reagan’s view of the U.S. as “a shining city on a hill.”

“You ought to know that this nation is more a “Tale of Two Cities” Cuomo said, speaking to his time, but sounding so to today.

He spoke of people suffering and said “…the hard truth is that not everyone is sharing in this city’s splendor and glory.” Cuomo said, of another part of shining city “… where some people can’t pay their mortgages, and most young people can’t afford one…in this part of the city there are more poor than ever, more families in trouble, more and more people who need help but can’t find it. Even worse: There are elderly people who tremble in the basements of the houses there. And there are people who sleep in the city streets, in the gutter, where glitter doesn't show.” 
Speaking to us today from 31 years ago, Mario Cuomo asked us to believe “…a society as blessed as ours, the most affluent democracy in the world’s history…ought to be able to help the middle class in its struggle, ought to be able to find work for all who can do it, room at the table, shelter for the homeless, care for the elderly and infirm, and hope for the destitute.”     

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Every 3.5 minutes, Care for the Homeless transforms a life

Photos by: (clockwise, l-r) Harvey Wang, Nancy Ribeck, Harvey Wang, Nancy Ribeck, Nancy Ribeck
In less than 3 minutes, you too can change a life by donating to our End of Year fundraising campaign on Crowdrise

Six-year old Jake's medical record includes something that may seem unusual: a copy of his most-improved student award. 

When his dad first came to the Care for the Homeless clinic frustrated and concerned about his son's hyperactive behavior, Jake was failing kindergarten. After his parents lost their jobs, the family fell on hard times and lost their apartment.  

Jake's family has joined a group of more than 60,000 New Yorkers experiencing homeless every night. Unfortunately, his experience is not unique. Families like Jakes' now spend more than 435 days living in NYC homeless shelter before they can find affordable housing. 

Your gift makes life-changing care for Jake and his parents possible. Donate Now. Every $25, 50 or $75 donated to this Crowdrise campaign will be matched by a very generous donor.  

Your investment in health today, will help end homelessness tomorrow. On behalf of 8,000 homeless men, women and children we serve, THANK YOU.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Still Unmet Promise of Universal Basic Human Rights

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy

Tomorrow, December 10th, is Human Rights Day. It marks the 66th anniversary of the adoption of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Care for the Homeless joins in recognizing the fundamental human rights proclaimed in that document in 1948 including the right to housing.
When the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights it was a vow by the community of nations still standing in the shadow of the horrors of World War II. It was drafted initially by an 18 member international “Drafting” Committee chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt, and eventually by a committee composed of delegations from 50 nations. When it was overwhelmingly adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948, eight nations abstained but not a single country voted in opposition.

The Declaration is based on the inherent dignity and equality of all people and the “inalienable rights of all members of the human family”. Among those fundamental human rights enumerated, the Declaration recognizes: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Today that fundamental human right to food, clothing, housing, medical care, social services and security are still a daily struggle for nearly 59,000 New Yorkers who will sleep in city homeless shelters tonight, and more than 3,000 who sleep rough on the streets on any given day. More than 4 out of ten of our neighbors experiencing homelessness in shelters or on the streets are children.
Even as we celebrate the commitment and positive actions taken by the Mayor and City Council to prevent and fight homelessness, CFH will pause tomorrow to recognize how much more we need to do. We believe modern day homelessness in the U.S. and New York City was created by public policy choices and that better policies can end it. Please join with us in advocating for those policies we know can work to prevent, fight and end homelessness as we know it.

And as we fight for those fundamental values officially adopted out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Care for the Homeless will continue providing critical medical and social services to many thousands of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.       

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Care for the Homeless Observes World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1st, client leaders of Care for the Homeless (CFH) observed World AIDS Day at the CFH offices at 30 E. 33rd Street in Manhattan. Members of the CFH Consumer Advisory Boards led presentations and discussions about services for people living with AIDS/HIV, current medical programs and advances and the New York State strategy to end the AIDS epidemic in the state by 2020.

Clients, CFH staff and others in attendance heard presentations for consumer leaders including
Calvin Alston, Gayle Dorsky and George Phipps. They lauded efforts announced by Governor Cuomo to end the AIDS epidemic – which he has defined as reducing new cases to the point where there is no net increase in AIDS cases in the state annually – by 2020.

“That’s a lot of ground to cover in the next five or six years,” according to Alston, “but the Governor and the AIDS Task Force have developed a workable three part plan to do just that.”

“As part of the Governor’s plan, advocates and activists like those of us who are client leaders are responsible for raising awareness and educating people about what needs to be done,” Ms. Dorsky said. “And along with promoting AIDS health education we need to work at reducing the stigma for people living with AIDS.”

The two CFH consumer boards are made up of leaders who are CFH patients receiving medical or social services at CFH locations across four of the five city boroughs. The boards provide feed-back and consumer input about CFH operations, organize and run various activities throughout the year including events like the World AIDS Day observance and voter registration drives, and advocate for public policies to prevent, fight and end homelessness.