Rights of Passage supporting NYC’s homeless youth
With the first snow of 2016, there was lots of excitement and anticipation in the air. While many people worried about travel plans and navigating through the snow, the New York City homeless population had to deal with this weather in a much more serious capacity – living out on the streets and freezing to death. Far more serious problems.
On Sunday, January 3, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced he would administer an executive order requiring police, state agencies and social service providers to bring homeless people from the streets into shelters when the temperature drops below freezing.
According to an internal city document, the current three ways to legally remove a person from the street include: voluntary entrance into a shelter; arrest if a crime was committed or involuntary transfer for psychiatric evaluation or treatment if he or she poses a danger to himself or others.
The reigning policy in New York City, called Code Blue, entails increasing the number of vans checking in on homeless people when temperatures drop to freezing and forgoing the extensive intake procedures typical at local shelters. Mayor Bill de Blasio insists that the city is doing what it can, and efforts will remain as they are, increasing as appropriate with inclement weather.
The good news is the homelessness crisis in the city is gaining awareness. Demanding space at shelters, and if need be hospitals, to house these people when temperatures are freezing is helpful and definitely advances the cause.
The Covenant House New York, a community partner of the NYJL, serves more than 400 homeless youth each day – providing food, shelter, and other basic needs and services through a variety of custom-fit programs. In New York City, this organization alone aids over 4,000 young people each year, and it’s obvious they would do more if they could. On that cold night of January 5, Covenant House President Kevin Ryan tweeted “Brutally cold night. Direct homeless youth in NYC to @CovenantHouse at 41st and 10th Ave in Manhattan. We’ll make room.”
Find out more about the Covenant House Rights of Passage Program and how they provide housing for young men and women, offering them a chance to make a life for themselves away from the street. It is often a last resort for young people, and the Rights of Passage committee provides them with basic life skills workshops to help them along their path at Covenant House and beyond.