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Announces Opening of Community-Based Homeless Prevention Offices, Supportive Housing Investment and Voluntary HIV Testing for Single Men

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September 22, 2004 - Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Linda Gibbs, Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden, MD, today announced the opening of six innovative homeless prevention offices in high-need neighborhoods, $150 million in private sector investment in supportive housing and a “rapid result” HIV testing options for single adult men entering shelter. The Mayor also outlined timeframes and targets for the 60 initiatives in the City’s five-year action plan, Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter, that aims to reduce homelessness in New York City by two-thirds over five years. The Mayor made the announcement at the new HomeBase office in the East Tremont/Belmont Section of the Bronx. The Mayor announced the action plan on June 23rd at a speech before the Association for A Better New York and the non-profit community.

“All City agencies are working together to help end homelessness,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I am pleased that we are able to announce such significant progress in such a short time. Today we are serious about shifting our approach, our priorities, and our resources to dramatically reduce homelessness in New York City. Our accountability plan shows the public that we are going to hold ourselves accountable for mobilizing resources, attacking problems and producing results. We will continue our work until all New Yorkers have a place to call home.”

Community-based Homelessness Prevention

During the next four weeks, new HomeBase Offices will be opened by recently contracted community-based organizations (CBO) in six high-need Community Board Districts (CBD). Each CBO will provide casework services, issue short-term financial assistance, and help clients locate and access existing community-based resources such as job training, child care, anti-eviction legal services and others. The Mayor allocated $12 million in new prevention spending in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget to support the initiative. The CBOs and impact communities are: HELP USA in Bronx CBD 6, Citizens Advice Bureau in Bronx CBD 1 (South Bronx), Palladia in Manhattan CBD 11 (East Harlem), Builders for Family and Youth in Queens CBD 12 (Jamaica), Bushwick Collaborative to Prevent Homelessness in Brooklyn CBD 4 (Bushwick), and Church Avenue Merchants Block Association in Brooklyn CBD 3 (Bedford Stuyvesant).

“We now have the ability to look at the community districts, the census tracts, the very apartment buildings that experience the most homelessness in our City,” said DHS Commissioner Gibbs. “Through technological advances and mapping techniques, we’ve increased the probability of finding those most likely to become homeless before they reach the steps of the shelter intake center.”

Supportive Housing Development

Enterprise New York, a national non-profit that helps build and rehabilitate low-income apartments, has invested $150 million in new funding to jump-start the creation of 2,500 units of supportive housing in 45 buildings Citywide. Enterprise will be working with Fannie Mae, who has made a $100 million national commitment to supportive housing. The funding will help leverage City operating and service dollars and existing development programs. Enterprise New York and Fannie Mae’s investment will allow the City to permanently house special needs populations and is an example of how the Mayor’s plan has spurred the City’s private and nonprofit partners to invest in supportive housing. On September 20, the City and its partners celebrated the opening of the nation’s first Foyer Housing, supportive housing for youth aging out of foster care. The facility is located in Chelsea and operated by Common Ground Community, Good Shepard Services, and Center for Urban Community Services, leading providers of housing and services to formerly homeless individuals. Three new projects to provide similar supportive housing to this at-risk youth population are in the pipeline.

“Supportive housing is the right way to get people back on their feet and back into society,” said HPD Commissioner Donovan. “Mayor Bloomberg has made an unprecedented commitment to the development of supportive housing throughout the City.”

Voluntary HIV Tests for At-Risk Homeless Men

The Mayor also announced that this week, that DHS in coordination with the Department DOHMH, has begun offering single adult men entering shelter rapid result HIV testing. The new protocol stems from a Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter initiative to advance Take Care New York, the City’s comprehensive policy for improving health over the next five years. Single adult men – many of whom enter shelter from the streets or incarceration – represent a population at high risk for HIV that has inadequate access to health care. Individuals will also be offered education and counseling services, as well as referrals to medical providers for treatment if they have a positive test result.

“Improving HIV services for people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless, including prevention education and rapid, confidential and voluntary HIV testing and linkage to care is important to address both the challenge of homelessness and the epidemic of HIV in our City,” said DOHMH Commissioner Frieden.

The Mayor also released a comprehensive implementation plan for Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter. Included in the plan are milestones and target dates for reconfiguring outreach services (July, 2006), creating a Citywide client database (September, 2005), strengthening performance management systems for shelter providers (July, 2005), developing new models for serving chronically homeless clients (September, 2006) and developing a takedown schedule and reinvestment plan for shelters (January, 2005). Beginning in January 2005, monthly updates on implementing the plan will be posted at www.nyc.gov/endinghomelessness.