The first annual policy symposium sponsored by Homeless Services United (HSU), a coalition of New York City-based non-profit providers that advocate for effective solutions to the homelessness crisis in NYC, was held on January 30, 2018, at the Mutual of America building in Manhattan. HSU created the event to bring together shelter providers, city government partners and thought leaders, to harness and synthesize their collective expertise in an effort to create action steps for ending the crisis of homelessness.
Over 100 people attended the event, which opened with a powerful presentation from Administrator Joslyn Carter from the New York City Dept. of Homeless Services (DHS). She set the tone by addressing the realities of homelessness in New York City – a challenge that requires citywide solutions. While she spoke to the progress that has been made in housing New Yorkers, she also acknowledged the difficulty of serving this population, and asked for continued collaboration between DHS and providers.
Catherine Trapani, Executive Director of HSU, then outlined HSU’s four-pronged policy roadmap, which included:
- Integration of programs into the communities where shelters are located;
- Greater fiscal health of the sector improving how the city does business with providers and how programs are funded;
- More comprehensive services that include increased staffing levels;
- Connections to more robust housing options.
The morning also included two panel discussions with a variety of experts in the field. The first addressed the role of homeless programs in the community, and the discussion focused on shared experiences partnering with communities to host homeless programs and how these programs support residents in the shelters while maintaining good neighbor policies and reducing stigma for program residents. The panel was moderated by Steve Rockman, Community Care Consultant Group, and included:
- Jackie Bray, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Dept. of Homeless Services
- City Council Member Stephen Levin
- Claire Sheedy, Vice President of Housing Operations and Programs, Breaking Ground
- Claire Harding-Keefe, Assistant Deputy Director, CAMBA
The second panel focused on making innovative program models a reality, and on how to translate best practices into reality, creating client-centered programs that have real impact. Moderator Daniel Farrell, Senior Vice President of Homeless Prevention and Rehousing Services, HELP USA, led a discussion that included:
- Frederick Shack, Executive Director, Urban Pathways
- Sheryl Silver, Senior Vice President, Community Case Management Programs, The Bridge
- Nadia Huntley-Smith, Program Director, Samaritan Daytop Village
- Jeremy Reiss, Deputy Development Officer, Public Policy and External Relations, Henry Street Settlement
The event concluded with a call to action from George Nashak, Executive Director of Care for the Homeless and the board president of HSU. He spoke about feeling encouraged by the collaborative nature of the provider community, and that the community has a seat at the policy making table. He encouraged the audience to take this message back to their organizations and to get them more involved in the work of “de-mythologizing homelessness.”
For more information on how to get your organization involved with HSU’s efforts to help end homelessness in New York City, visit www.hsunited.org/get-involved.