Downtown

Kids ask de Blasio to help homeless families

Children send postcards seeking NYCHA housing

June 7, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of Kids for a Better Future hold a press conference to call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to help homeless families. Photo by Nicole Edine/Coalition for the Homeless

Politically savvy Brooklyn fourth-graders are joining forces with the nonprofit group Coalition for the Homeless to fight for better housing conditions for their peers.

On June 2, members of Kids for a Better Future (KBF) and representatives of the Coalition for the Homeless held a press conference outside City Hall to deliver post cards to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him to increase the number of families placed into apartments run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), a move that would enable those families to leave the city’s homeless shelter system.

KBF members are seeking to increase the number of families placed into NYCHA housing to 3,000 a year. Twenty-three thousand children sleep in shelters every night, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. 

This isn’t the first time the KBF has worked alongside the Coalition for the Homeless. KBF members shared their own personal stories at the press conference. 

“When Kids for a Better Future supported Coalition for the Homeless in 2009 when I was just two years old, there were 16,000 kids in NYC sleeping in shelters. I know because I still have my older brother’s KBF T-shirt from that year which says that. In 2017, there are 23,000 children in NYC sleeping in shelters. My hope is that Mayor de Blasio will do everything he can to help these kids just like me find a home,” KBF member Satya Shaw said.

In a recent State of the Homeless report, the Coalition for the Homeless outlined steps the city could take to improve homeless shelter conditions and expand permanent housing options to reduce homelessness. 

Among the recommendations are to increase the number of public housing placements for homeless families from 1,500 per year to at least 3,000.

“By immediately increasing NYCHA placements for homeless families and children, the mayor can help as many as 1,500 more families move out of the notoriously poor-quality cluster sites and into permanent homes of their own this year and next,” said Giselle Routhier, the coalition’s policy director. 

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Routhier said she was impressed with the passion that the young KBF members have brought to the issue. “Kudos to Kids for a Better Future for all their hard work raising awareness of this critical issue,” she said. 

Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-North Brooklyn), chairman the General Welfare Committee, said a multipronged approach is necessary to combat homelessness. 

“There is no single solution that will solve the problem, every effort helps. That’s why it’s so important to commit to increase NYCHA housing opportunities for children in their families. I fully support Kids for a Better Future, Coalition for the Homeless and all the advocates fighting to provide children and families the homes they deserve,” Levin said. 

In recent months, KBF members have worked with the Coalition for the Homeless on such projects as collecting food, blankets and clothing for homeless families, volunteering in a soup kitchen and distributing sandwiches to homeless people on the streets.

 

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