FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2004
MAYOR MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG OPENS TEMPORARY INTAKE OFFICE FOR FAMILIES SEEKING SHELTER AND ANNOUNCES $30 MILLION COMMITMENT TO CREATE NEW PERMANENT INTAKE CENTER
New Intake Site, to Open Thursday, Embodies Court Panel Recommendations to Improve Family Experiences with Shelter System
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner (DHS) Linda Gibbs today announced the opening of a temporary intake facility designed to fundamentally improve the intake experience for homeless families with children seeking shelter. The Mayor also announced a $30 million capital investment to rebuild the 20-year-old Emergency Assistance Unit (EAU) on its current site in the Bronx. The temporary intake site was conceptualized and implemented in the five months since a court-appointed panel released recommendations to improve the intake and eligibility processes for families with children. Mayor Bloomberg was joined at the new intake center by Special Master Panel members Gail Nayowith, John Feerick, and Daniel Kronenfeld.
"For twenty years, the Emergency Assistance Unit has come to represent confusion and pain for vulnerable families applying for temporary emergency housing," said Mayor Bloomberg. "As a result of a historic settlement and the sound recommendations of this court panel, we are ushering in a new day - a day where families in need are treated with the utmost respect and where our efforts are guided by rationale policies rather than crisis-driven court orders. We can and must be more responsive to those in need. This new intake center represents our commitment to compassion and service for those in need."
Beginning Thursday, the temporary intake site, called the Prevention Assistance & Temporary Housing (PATH) Office, will begin serving all single pregnant women and families with children who are submitting their first application for shelter. The office design, program mix, and staffing models were informed by the set of recommendations released by a three-member court appointed panel in June of 2004. Consistent with those recommendations, PATH includes multiple opportunities for families to access prevention services, an enhanced social work component, a midpoint case conference, where families are apprised of the likely outcome of their eligibility determination, and bridge services to transition shelter ineligible families back to available housing and community supports.
In addition, DHS client advocates will be onsite to help families resolve problems and the new Administration for Children's Services Family Services Team will be stationed there to promote healthy and safe behavior to protect the health and well being of children.
"We're here today as a result of our collaboration with the panel and Legal Aid," said Commissioner Linda Gibbs. "As this facility and new vision make clear, we can achieve far better results for families through collaboration than through courtroom battles. At the end of the day, serving families more holistically and appropriately is what everyone has always sought to achieve."
"This new office and the capital commitment highlights the City's commitment to reform, reflecting continuous improvement in addressing the needs of vulnerable families," said Gail Nayowith, Executive Director of the Citizen's Committee for Children and a member of the court-appointed Special Master Panel.
The Mayor also announced that $30 million in capital funds will be allocated for a new permanent intake center at the location of the existing Emergency Assistance Unit. Groundbreaking will take place in February 2006, with the project to be completed in 2008.
The new site will feature child-friendly design elements, state of the art technology, and overnight shelter beds to eliminate late night busing of applicant families to "overnight" shelters. Like the temporary intake site, the building design and program offerings will incorporate recommendations made by the court-appointed panel.
On January 17, 2003, the City of New York and the Legal Aid Society entered into a historic, two-year agreement approved by the New York State Supreme Court to significantly reduce litigation and promote constructive problem solving. The agreement established the Family Homelessness Special Master Panel. The agreement charged the Panel with evaluating various aspects of the shelter system, including the intake process. At the end of its term, the Panel will make recommendations regarding the resolution of longstanding litigation.
The PATH Office, located at 346 Powers Avenue in the Bronx, will be open Monday through Friday from 9am - 5 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am - 2 pm. After hour applications, as well as applications from families re-applying for shelter, will be processed at the existing EAU, located at 151 East 151st Street.
Edward Skyler / Jordan Barowitz (212) 788-2958
James Anderson (Homeless Services)
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