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Finding Solutions Beyond Homeless Shelters

  |  January 8, 2016
To the Editor:
Christine C. Quinn offers some great ideas for ending homelessness in New York (“Let’s Rethink Our Homeless Shelters,” Op-Ed, Jan. 2), but calling for the construction of new shelters is wrong. The answer isn’t more shelters; what’s needed is a smarter, faster and more connected housing system.
For families facing homelessness, the city’s HomeBase homelessness prevention program should be a required first step. HomeBase has proved a successful alternative to automatically assessing families for shelter, but too few families know about the program or understand its effectiveness.
For families who do become homeless, extensive research over many years shows that the vast majority need only limited rental assistance and services to get back on their feet quickly. The portion of families requiring more intensive, long-term support is small and easily identifiable with data.
Rather than expanding shelters, and institutionalizing families, city dollars would be better spent targeting the right level of assistance to families quickly to help them secure and stay in their own homes.
President, Community Solutions
New York