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Homeless

The Takeaway

Can You End Homelessness by Providing Homes?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

In 2005, Utah set out to end chronic homelessness within 10 years by providing each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. As they inch closer to their deadline, it looks like the state could actually pull it off: The state says the homeless population has shrunk by nearly 75 percent since Utah started its initiative. Whittney Evans reports on local government for Takeaway affiliate station KUER. She joins the program to discuss how this program works.

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WNYC News

Stepping up Help for the Homeless as Temperatures Plummet

Monday, January 06, 2014

WNYC

Extra vans, staff and outreach for those most vulnerable to the bitter cold.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Homelessness in New York City

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Yorker staff writer Ian Frazier and Mary Brosnahan, president of Coalition for the Homeless, discuss why New York has more homeless now than it had for decades, what life is like for many of the homeless families in the city, and what the new mayor should do to address the problem. Frazier’s article “Hidden City” appeared in the October 28 issue of The New Yorker.

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WNYC News

Mysterious Gambler Brings In Celebrity Chefs to Cook Dinner for Homeless

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

An anonymous donor who goes by the name "Robin Hood 702" has brought in a White House chef and the executive chef at of Rao's in East Harlem to cook a special Christmas dinner for 200 to 300 people at the New York City Rescue Mission in Chinatown.

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WNYC News

Baby, It's Cold Outside: Coat Donations Down 35 Percent This Year

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dozens of people lined up on a cold Christmas morning outside the New York City Rescue Mission in Chinatown hoping to find a donated coat that might fit and protect against the winter weather.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Profiling a "Girl in the Shadows"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New York Times reporter Andrea Elliot spent a year with Dasani, a child living with her family in a Brooklyn shelter -- one of 22,000 homeless children in New York City. She describes the process of gaining the family's trust, and the policy response to the personal story she chronicled.

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New Jersey News

Soup Kitchens Didn't Get Enough Food Donations to Offer Thanksgiving Meals

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

WNYC

Churches in North Jersey who regularly feed the hungry say they didn’t get enough food donations this year to offer a Thanksgiving meal.

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WNYC News

Top Court Rejects Bloomberg's Homeless Policy

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New York State’s top court on Tuesday blocked the Bloomberg administration's plan to impose new requirements on single adults trying to enter homeless shelters.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Why New York Has More Homeless Now Than In Decades

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Yorker staff writer Ian Frazier and Mary Brosnahan, president of Coalition for the Homeless, discuss what life is like for many homeless families in the city, and what the new mayor should do to address the problem.

 

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Where Recycling Goes; the Musical "The Landing"; Russell Banks's New Short Stories; Homelessness in NYC

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Adam Minter describes what happens to our soda cans, glass bottles,and old newspapers after they’re put out on the curb, and how recycling became a global industry. Composer John Kander and lyricist Greg Pierce on their new musical, “The Landing.” Russell Banks talks about his new collection of short stories. And New Yorker staff writer Ian Frazier and Coalition for the Homeless president Mary Brosnahan discuss why homelessness in New York has reached such high numbers.

WNYC News

In Limbo, Long After the Waters Rose

Friday, October 25, 2013

WNYC

On Oct. 29, 2012, Cherell Manuel and three of her kids escaped rising Sandy flood waters on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway. On Friday, they’ll be transferred to their fourth hotel since the storm hit. After a while, Manuel said, you stop unpacking.

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WNYC News

Families Displaced by Sandy Receive Last Minute Aid

Friday, October 04, 2013

WNYC

More than 100 families left homeless by Sandy who've been staying in hotels didn't get kicked out on Friday as expected.

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The Takeaway

In Boston, Signs of the Homeless Get Colorful Makeovers

Monday, September 16, 2013

A new, provocative art project in Boston seeks to raise awareness of homelessness. Christopher Hope and Kenji Nakayama have started a program called “Signs for the Homeless,” which invites artists in Massachusetts to give the drab cardboard signs of the local homeless colorful makeovers. A Cambridge, MA street worker, Hope talks about a provocative art project that's trying to raise awareness of homelessness.  

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WNYC News

To Create Housing for Homeless, Landlords Evict Paying Tenants

Monday, August 12, 2013

Desperate for shelter space, New York City has been paying landlords in low income communities much more for their apartments than they could get in the private market. The result? Landlords are pushing out paying tenants to make room for the homeless.

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Transportation Nation

One Train Ticket in New Jersey Can be Valid for Years ... If You Never Get on a Train

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The main waiting room at Newark Penn Station (photo by Luke H. Gordon via flickr)

(Sarah Gonzalez - WNYC/NJPR) John Williams says he’s been living at Newark Penn Station for a couple months.

His nails are almost an inch long; his grey beard less groomed than he’d like. But the 60-year-old is dressed sharp in a light brown plaid suit.

“I done had it on for two months,” he said. “I don’t smell and stuff like that but that’s a problem, you got some people in here that really, really smell bad.”

Laws prevent transit police from asking anyone – including the homeless – to leave stations unless they’re breaking rules.

“We can sleep sitting up in here, but if you lay down in here they’re going to wake you,” Williams said. “They take a stick and stick you with it. Or hit on the side of the wall or the bench.”

Inspector Al Stiehler with NJ Transit Police says managing the homeless in train stations takes officers are away from their primary role, which is counter-terrorism and safety.

“Sometimes we’re dealing with the same person two, three times a day,” Stielher said. “They’re intoxicated, they go to the hospital, they come right back. They have a seizure, they go to the hospital, they come right back. Police officers didn’t have the tools to do what they needed. It was just a cycle.”

(photo by Laser Burners via flickr)

Since New Jersey Transit can't ask homeless people to leave the waiting areas, they’re trying to offer help instead.

Michelle Walsh is the Community Intervention Specialist with New Jersey Transit. She tries to get the homeless into shelters and connect them to programs that offer food and services. She says the program has two goals.

“Helping the homeless but also making it more comfortable for passengers when they’re riding through,” she said.

Walsh says she engages about 75 percent of the homeless in some way.

“Even if it looks like someone isn’t working with me, we might be working on… getting their birth certificate from a different state which takes time.”

Many of the homeless men and women have mental disorders, Walsh said. Many want to stay at train stations.

And they have the right to be there, according to Ed Barocas, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in New Jersey.

“If someone is simply sitting up on a bench, whether they do it for a half hour or 4 hours that’s their right to do it,” Barocas said. “These are areas open to the public, and people who are homeless are a part of the public.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given the state $24 million dollars to help with the homeless. And some of that money will go to organizations that New Jersey Transit partners with.

Buying a Ticket to Sleep on the Benches

John Williams says he prefers to stay at train stations where there are a lot of other homeless people – like a station in Summit. He says it makes him feel more comfortable.

And if he wants to sit, or rest his eyes, on the benches for ticketed passengers only, he knows what he needs to do.

“I have a ticket, okay. This is what you need to have to stay in,” Williams says. “If you doesn’t have that you’re going to have to go out in the cold.”

He doesn’t need to buy a train ticket every night in order to sleep on the benches.

“No I don’t buy a ticket every night. I buy a ticket one time, as long as it’s not punched it’s good. As long as it doesn’t have a hole in it. I done had this for two months.”

Once you’re on a train, conductors, which cost taxpayers about 30 million dollars a year, come by with a hole-puncher, manually punching two holes in every passenger’s ticket.

If you never get on a train to get your ticket punched, your ticket will never expire.

Some of the homeless people at Newark Penn Station have been there for years. One has been at the station for 19 years; another for 26 years.

Inspector Al Stiehler says NJ Transit has been tossing around ideas to create a system where tickets would eventually expire, but he says that’s way down the line.

He says train stations attract large homeless populations because they offer amenities the homeless can’t get elsewhere.

“They have access to liquor stores and bars, there’s people around here that can get money, there’s food, and they have 24/7 hour police protection. They’re not going to get that at a shelter.”

John Williams says he shouldn’t have to go to a shelter.

“Because I am a taxpayer,” he said. “Well, I used to be a taxpayer.”

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New Jersey News

One Train Ticket in New Jersey Can be Valid for Years ... If You Never Get on a Train

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

WNYC

Constrained by the lack of public loitering laws in the Garden State, New Jersey Transit is taking a different approach with homeless people who have taken up residence in train stations. The transit agency can't ask homeless people to leave the waiting areas, so they’re trying a kinder approach to help the homeless out of train stations.

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WNYC News

Bloomberg's Homeless Policy Under Fire as Shelter Population Grows

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

On any given night in January, there were more than 50,000 people sleeping in New York City shelters, according to a new report from a homeless advocacy group.

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WNYC News

City is Counting on Federal Housing Vouchers to House Poorest Sandy Victims

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

WNYC

The city plans to use federally funded housing vouchers to place some of the poorest Sandy victims in private apartments. But vouchers must still be approved by the federal government and there's concern they may not come soon enough to keep some families from ending up in shelters.

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WNYC News

As Blizzard Looms, Officials on Edge About Some Sandy-Hit Residents

Friday, February 08, 2013

More than 100 days after Sandy struck the region, the impending blizzard has officials and social service non-profits worried about the thousands who maybe living in substandard housing damaged by the October storm.

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WNYC News

Calling a Hotel Home, For Now

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thousands of storm victims are currently staying in New York City hotels. The accommodations range from high end midtown Manhattan hotels to the West Side YMCA. And while many are grateful to have a roof over their heads, more than anything, they want a permanent place to live again.

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