Andrea Karshan's Articles, Brooklyn, Homeless Shelters

Cumbo Blasts City For Booting 70 Women From Fort Greene Homeless Shelter

image008By Andrea Karshan

City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo (Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights) today blasted the de Blasio Administration for booting 70 homeless women last week from the Auburn Family Residence in her district with less than 24 hours notice in sweltering heat.

According to the New York Daily News, who first broke the story, the destitute ladies were transferred to a Holiday Inn near Kennedy Airport to make room for an influx of families into the Auburn shelter, 89 Auburn Place.

“As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I was gravely disappointed to witness the manner by which approximately 70 women were removed from the Auburn Family Residence, with less than 24 hours notice, in the sweltering 90 degree heat on August 4,” said Cumbo.

“I was disappointed that the health and welfare of these women was not appropriately considered. My office received numerous phone calls alerting us of the situation, and my constituents affairs team was able to negotiate an extended stay for eight women due to the residents’ pre-existing medical conditions and doctor appointments,” she added.

Cumbo’s comments came as Mayor de Blasio announced today that 40,050 New Yorkers exited or avoided shelters through the administration’s rental assistance programs that began in July 2014.

“The solution to homelessness and the many problems it causes for New York families is a home. That’s why one of the first steps we took was to create new rental assistance programs and reopen NYCHA vacancies to homeless families. In less than two years, these programs have helped more than 40,000 New Yorkers escape homeless shelters and find a home, while saving taxpayers’ money because rental assistance is much less expensive than the cost of a homeless shelter,” said de Blasio.

De Blasio noted that the City’s tenant legal services programs have served more than 27,000 households, including more than 75,000 people, and that evictions in housing court are down 24 percent since 2013.

But that didn’t help the 70 women in the city-run shelter, who were not availed any tenant legal services.

David Neustadt, spokesperson for the Human Resources Administration, which recently took over the Department of Homeless Services in a consolidation move, refused to answer several questions regarding the fate of the displaced women or the policy of where and when homeless people are displaced from shelters.

“Due to the usual summer increase in families entering homeless shelters, to make space for families DHS arranged to move about 70 single women to a space appropriate only for single adults so that adult families could take their place. No women with serious health issues were moved,” said Neustadt in a terse one-sentence answer that addressed none of the KCP questions

Cumbo said in light of last week’s displacement, regulations need to be established to ensure the safety of all people while operationalizing procedures at homeless shelters for individuals and families. She is also exploring legislation that would require the DHS to provide shelter residents at least 48-72 hours warning before a transfer is set to take place.

“In addition, DHS must act to accommodate shelter residents’ travel to the new shelter, and during this relocation window, individuals must be provided with safe temporary conditions and accommodations, including a temperature appropriate space and access to food and water,” said Cumbo.

“Nearly 60,000 people sleep in a NYC shelter each night, many of whom are women and children. The homelessness crisis in our city must be addressed through a thoughtful allocation of resources, and sensible policy decisions. It is our collective responsibility to protect our most vulnerable population and provide them with a pathway towards independence,” she added.

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