Cities go further to help homeless

We got this article from Heather Plan who found it in USA Today and we wanted to share it.

Cities go further to help homeless

By Charisse Jones, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — It took a new kind of shelter to bring Thomas Malinowski in off the streets where he has slept and lived for 13 years.

At the 2-month-old Safe Haven, the first shelter of its kind in the city, there is no curfew and no requirement that residents give up alcohol or drugs in order to have a bed.

It gave Malinowski, 48, comfort to see other men he’d met during his years roaming from the Lower East Side to Harlem. “I said if they got this person off the street and that person off the street, something’s got to be right,” he says.

Safe Haven is one of several steps the city is taking to achieve Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ambitious goal of reducing the homeless population here by two-thirds by 2009.

As New York and other cities throughout the USA conduct a biennial count this month of those living on their streets, at least 285 communities are creating or implementing plans to end homelessness in a decade.

More than 2 million Americans experience homelessness during the course of a year, according to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, the federal agency overseeing the government’s response to the issue.

Cities are going far beyond providing emergency shelter, focusing on creating housing and even giving families rent money to avoid eviction.

“The question is why have so many mayors signed on,” says Philip Mangano, the council’s executive director. “They recognize it’s the right thing to do morally, and it’s also the right thing to do economically.”

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