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Deborah Berkman

NYLAG Testimony: Remove Police from Homeless Outreach; Increase Supportive Housing

Safe and secure housing is a basic human need and should be a universal right; without it, everything, from employment to education, becomes so much harder. Through our shelter and homelessness advocacy efforts, NYLAG fights tirelessly to ensure that New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or in crisis have a safe place to sleep. Below is an excerpt from our testimony to the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare demanding more supportive housing and homeless outreach.

“Quite simply, police officers are not licensed social service providers. Clients experiencing street homelessness generally do not just end up on the street; rather most have stayed in shelters before, and often in other institutional settings as well (such as foster care, hospitals, residential treatment, jail and prison, halfway and three-quarter houses, etc.) and have found it intolerable to be there. There are many reasons why this may be the case, but quite a few clients describe violent interactions with shelter police, staff, and other residents and fear for their safety. Outreach efforts need to speak to those fears; however, police officers are trained to respond to emergencies, not to address the fears of traumatized people.”

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