A recent report on WNYC by Cindy Rodriguez reported on the City of New York’s Next Step shelters that some refer to as boot camps. Is this something that can help to end homelessness? Is this a new role for shelters in an ending homelessness strategy?
The following is part of the report in text. To read more click here.
The Department of Homeless Services is cracking down on homeless families lingering in city shelters for too long. A few hundred have been put into a program designed to structure their days and intensify any services available so they can find a permanent place to live and move out. WNYC’s Cindy Rodriguez reports:
REPORTER: Some homeless advocates call them boot camp shelters. The city calls them “ next step” shelters. So far about 260 families have begun the program.
HARRIS: My name is Mary Harris…I’m 57 years old
REPORTER: As the head of her 5 member household –Harris entered the Next Step program two months ago. For her it has meant regular van rides to see potential apartments, escorts to public assistance appointments, reminder notes slipped under her door, mandatory attendance at workshops on subjects such as how to manage credit and early morning wake up calls that Harris says annoyed people at first:
HARRIS: Oh they knocking on your door. That’s the security guards. The security guards were under heat as well. This is not your job don’t come knocking on my door like you the police. I’m not getting up. They were getting cursed out for like but now everybody just mellowed and eased out now everybody is like I’m in the Next Step, we’re proud.
REPORTER: Harris sees the extra monitoring as attention she had been lacking. She speaks to me inside a small office at the Jamaica Family Center, a Queens shelter where she’s been for two years. Prior to that though she spent several years at shelters in Flatlands Brooklyn and elsewhere:
HARRIS: Like Flatlands, I was there for maybe two years, I never knew my social worker….I never knew the name of my housing specialist, they never came to me and said oh you gotta look for a place your under this program or your under that program file for section 8, nothing.