[Hpn] Nw York, NY - Housing in ex-Jail Is Better Than Sleeping on Floor - NewsDay.com - August 14, 2002

Editor Editor <hccjr@bellsouth.net>
Wed, 14 Aug 2002 22:18:57 -0500


Housing in ex-Jail Is Better Than Sleeping on Floor

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EDITORIAL - NewsDay.com - August 14, 2002

As troubling as it is, the city's reopening of a Bronx jail for
use as a temporary homeless shelter is better for families than
the alternative: sleeping on the floor of the Department of
Homeless Services' Emergency Assistance Unit.

But the real tragedy is that city officials have allowed the
fate of homeless children and their parents to come down
to these two degrading options.

Last week's suicide by a 16-year-old boy at a hotel for the
homeless exposed both the severity of the shortage of temporary
housing and the vulnerability of families desperate for shelter.

The boy had spent two nights at the city's only shelter-intake
office, which is in the Bronx, before moving to the hotel shelter,
where he overdosed on medication.

City officials have since scrambled to find more immediate relief
for up to 100 families that spend any given night on the floor at
the EAU.

The best officials have offered is to reopen the former Bronx
House of Detention for Men, although the city banned such
"barracks-style" shelters years ago.

The system counts a record 8,400 homeless families, and the city
is right to focus long- term on reducing the homeless rolls.

One plan is to move more homeless families into public- housing
apartments, in addition to seeking more federal money to help pay
for housing.

More immediately, however, the city should push for an increase
in state public-assistance rental allowances; they are less than
those on Long Island, for instance. It also should expedite
repairs to out-of-service shelter units.

The issue gained prominence in Queens recently after the city
created a shelter at a bankrupt hotel in South Ozone Park, adding
to the area's already disproportionate number of social service
sites.

The only way to spare down-on-their luck families such
animosity and vulnerability is to find them places to live -
permanently.


Copyright  2002, Newsday, Inc.
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