City Turns Babies Away

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The New York City Department of Homeless Services says from now on, families with children that they deem "ineligible" for shelter can fend for themselves on the streets

"You're on your own."  That's what Department of Homeless Services Commissioner, Robert Hess has to say to homeless families of his choosing.  As a result, many homeless families that include children and babies are being turned away from the City’s shelter system and left on the streets to fend for themselves. 

The Department of Homeless Services says from now on, it will not grant overnight shelter to families who have already been determined "ineligible" for temporary housing.  The City says these families are attempting to scam the system by trying to get into the shelter even though they already have a place to stay with either relatives or friends. 

“We're saying to these families, You know what?  You have been found ineligible; we know you have an alternative housing option; we really need you to go home.” Hess stated in a recent NY1 report by Dean Meminger. "But many are asking, 'What home,’” stated Meminger who broke the story.  "Some families who are turned away say they end up sleeping on the streets," Meminger added.

Decades long advocate for the homeless, Steve Banks, a lawyer for the Coalition for the Homeless stated, “The City’s own records show that one out of every three families who apply and are found eligible are made to apply multiple times.”

“People who actually live in private homes and apartments in the neighborhood say they know that the people who come to this [Mott Haven] intake center are homeless because many nights, they sleep on the sidewalk outside of the local school,” Meminger concluded.

This reporter is at a loss to understand, how a man can tell a 5-year-old or an infant, "You know what? You're not eligible for a warm place to stay!"  What would Mr. Hess say if it were his own child. 

In a recent survey by Coalition for the Homeless, family homelessness in New York City has increased by 11 percent this year.  The number of homeless families in shelters has risen nearly every month of 2006.  The number of homeless NYC children has risen by 11 percent.  The number of homeless families in shelters – currently more than 8,700 families – is the highest since November 2004.

Could it be that the City is working to lower those numbers by turning families away, thus not counting the increasing numbers?

A more important question would be, WHY DO WE NEED THE CITY TO HOUSE OUR PEOPLE!!!  Why don’t we take care of our own?!!  The Chinese do it – there are many other cultures you will not see down at the Welfare (or Job Center as they now call it – CONTEMPORARY PLANTATION, IS WHAT THIS REPORTER CALLS IT!), nor will you see them at the aweful Emergency Assistance Unit seeking shelter.  Why?  Because they have systems already set up within their culture that take care of their own.  There are THOUSANDS of Black churches and Hispanic churches (and I name Black and Hispanic, because they are the highest percent of homeless in New York City) who should be taking care of these families in need.  

Brothers and Sisters, we as a people have to do more!  Those are OUR families out there.  Those are OUR sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, children and grandchildren.  I understand that we may not be able to take a family into our own homes for whatever reason – but we really need to find a way to come together and work with our churches to get these people and these babies OFF THE STREETS!!! 

That's right!  The churches have to do more!  MUCH MORE!!!  There are a handfull of churches who do try to address human needs, but they cannot do it alone.  So for all of the churches who are in the mode of self-indulgence and self-righteousness, and caught up in materialism, please know that it is time for you to get a new agenda for your "Building Funds" and start using that funding to provide a warm place for people who are homeless.  As you pass the plate a half dozen times, demanding and imploring that we "dig deeper" into our pockets to pay for your fine lifestyles and fancy cars, put that money towards helping the people in need that you are always preaching about.  How can you come week after week rollin' up in your fine cars, flossin' your pastel and neon colored Armani suits with the shoes to match, knowing that our families are suffering like this.  Who are you trying to impress?  (Maybe I'd better save that question for another story.)  But I digress.  The churches who are not already on the case, must step up -- stop turning a blind eye to this major crisis -- and help these people!  There is a time for sermons and there is a time for action.  The time for action is NOW!  Enough showing off and showboating.  If you want to be important, do something that is that is really important. It is time to PUT YOUR MONEY (OR OUR MONEY) WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS -- GET THESE PEOPLE SOME BEDS; GIVE THEM SOME LOVE AND SUPPORT -- educate them -- help them help themselves.  Be the Godly example you have been ordained to be. 

It’s getting cold, people.  But what the weather feels like should not determine a person's need for a place to live.  Most people who are homeless are or have been hard workers and tax payers, and they deserve better. 

During Dean Meminger’s NY1 report, he showed among many little children and babies and their moms in distress, out in the cold, waiting and hoping on line outside of the shelter, one little toddler, consoling her crying baby sister in the stroller.  This report hurt me to my heart.  What do they do when it rains?  What will they do when it snows?  How do they manage school?  How do they do their homework?  What will these human beings do?  Some dogs are treated with more compassion.  Children should be clamouring for toys for Christmas -- not a home or a warm place to lay their heads. 

More importantly, does anyone smell conspiracy as these predominantly Black and Latino children are being deprived of basic living accommodations, thereby, disabling them from functioning normally in school -- or attending school at all, on a regular basis?  Again, the playing field has been altered.  The bar has been raised yet again, and we have been given another huge obstacle to overcome.

We have got to stabililze our people -- IMMEDIATELY!  We cannot turn our backs on this crisis.  PLEASE!!!  WE HAVE TO HELP!!!

Remember this -- they won't forget. If nobody helps these children, they won't forget.  Children will give tomorrow what they get today.  So, if we don't help these children, don't be surprised if there are a whole lot of elderly folks, sitting out in the cold, shivering in their wheelchairs with frozen bedpans in the year 2030.  Mark my words.

Here’s my message to Robert Hess and Linda Gibbs:  “There but for the grace of God go YOU!”

Special Note: In a previous report, I mentioned "they" would be coming for our children next.  I hate to say, "I told you so," but I did. This is a call for EVERYONE to come together, all races, colors, cultures and creeds, to help us rescue these families, because history has shown -- once they get bored with sticking it to us, theyr'e coming straight after you.   Please don't make me again have to say, "I told you so."


ANYONE who can share possible solutions, please e-mail me at brenda@blackstarnews.com


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