NEW YORK (Dec. 28)
A survey of 450 homeless New York City residents — most of them Jews — just released by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies Homeless Project found that these residents included “shocking” examples of well-educated heads of families with young children. A Project official said today that the Federation expected to find more cases of this kind which the survey described as the “new homeless.”
David Liederman, Federation executive director for public affairs, who is coordinator of the Federation program for the homeless, said the survey was started in March and covered data through the end of this month. He said that, of the 450 such homeless New Yorkers studied, about 400 were Jews. He said the Federation expected to expand its Homeless Project in expectation that the situation would become worse this winter.
Reporting that many of the 450 homeless residents were young, that many had at least a high school education and that families with young children made up more than a third of the 450, Saul Cohen, chairman of the Federation Committee on the Homeless, called the information “a somber surprise.”
He said that with the advent of winter, “our first priority is to locate homeless families and individuals who do not know of our service. We must get people off the streets,” a comment underlined by the arrival of cold weather which shattered all known records.
The 450 who were evaluated are being helped by the Federation Homeless Program, which is administered by the Federation Employment and Guidance Service, Liederman said.
A BREAKDOWN OF FINDINGS
In a breakdown of the findings, Liederman reported that families with children make up 34 percent of the 450, or about 150 of the “new homeless”; the majority — 52 percent — are headed by a single parent; more than half of homeless adults have a high school diploma; 28 have college degrees, and nine have graduate degrees.
He added that 56 percent, around 230 individuals, are between the ages of 21 and 50; women make up 40 percent, about 180 persons, of the 450 homeless; and that some of the “new homeless” have good job records and skills and some have held professional, managerial, technical and clerical jobs.
Last March, the Federation opened its homeless Project as a crash program. Since then, a spokesperson told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the project has developed a method of mobilization of a number of Federation agencies providing the various kinds of help when the “catastrophe” of homelessness occurs. These include shelter, food, cash, medical treatment and job placement.
The spokesperson said that most of the 450, who had never before faced such a devastating situation, had been helped by the Federation out of the homeless category. The spokesperson added that some of the 450 had been drifters for many years and some had dropped out of the aid program.
Last August, the Federation announced an allocation of $150,000 for aiding the homeless. As of August, the spokesperson said, private donors had contributed $50,000. In addition, $286,540 in grants were received by Federation agencies from the New York City Voluntary Board as part of the federal JOBS Stimulus Act to provide food and shelter to the homeless and hungry in New York.
PROGRAMS TO AID THE HOMELESS
Liederman said FEGS offers rehabilitation, job training and job counseling to the homeless, working in conjunction with Altro; the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services; and the Metropolitan Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty.
When emergency quarters and other help is needed, the Educational Alliance’s Respite House on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, is available, as is Project Dorot, on the Upper West Side. Both Respite House and Project Dorot normally serve senior citizens.
The Hartman Y in Queens operates a shelter for abused and homeless women. The Jewish Community Services of Long Island, which is headquartered in Rego Park, provides food and shelter to the homeless in Queens.
The Federation’s homeless program provides specialists who direct people to the various private and government agencies which can help. In addition to being numbed by the catastrophe, the homeless person does not know what resources are available, and what help he or she is entitled to, Liederman pointed out. Finally, the homeless project worker can help the victim fill out the maze of official applications of public and private agencies for assistance.