Commissioner Banks and Borough President Adams Led Information Campaign on Homelessness
On Friday, Steven Banks, commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration led an information campaign at 12 schools in Brooklyn neighborhoods where many families enter the shelter system, NY Times reports.
“We’re talking to people on the street corner today, and I want them to know help is available to them and to people they know,” Banks said.
The commissioner was joined at New Bridges Elementary School by Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, as well as by about 100 workers from community groups, distributing brochures and taking down contact information from parents in need of help.
According to figures from the city’s Independent Budget Office, the number of public school students living in homeless shelters in New York City has increased over the last five years, reaching nearly 33,000 in the 2015-16 school year. Additionally, there were about 100,000 students who had lived in temporary housing, such as shelters, motels or with another family at some point.
Ralph da Costa Nunez, president of the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, called the effort a mere “Band-Aid”.
“I think these things are good, telling them about legal assistance people don’t know about,” he said. “Eventually some of these families will find themselves in the system.”
According to Mr. Banks, the outreach was a part of larger approach that includes a significant increase in funding for legal services to help people avoid eviction and trying to restructure the shelter system so people can stay in their own borough instead of being sent across the city.
“Simply focusing on the larger numbers misses the reality that homelessness occurs on a family-by-family basis,” Mr. Banks said. “Behind the statistics are individual families going to these schools, and putting information into the hands of teachers, in the hands of parent coordinators, in the hands of people in the neighborhoods can make a big difference.”