/ The New York City Traveler
New York — By Steve Mirsky on April 28, 2010 at 10:50 am
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Give Real Change – From Street to Home

It’s inevitable…just like in any city, you’ll hear it eventually.  It’s usually something like “Scuse me, could you spare a quarter?”  The approach and story can get more elaborate or you might just see somebody curled up on the sidewalk or pushing a grocery cart filled with tons of plastic bags.  Unless you are a long time resident, you may be surprised to know that NYC’s homeless population has plummeted in recent years.

Homeless Population Decreasing in NYC

New York City’s unsheltered resident population is now estimated to be hovering around 3,000 giving it a homeless ratio that is actually lower than other major cities like San Francisco and Atlanta. So how did all this happen to a city that had a crisis of epic proportions peaking in the 1980s?

Much of it is the result of an ongoing dogged effort dependant on key partnerships between City agencies and volunteers.  A couple of recently established programs have cut down on the number of street people by 30 percent in the last 2 years alone.  One of them is the Give Real Change Public Education Campaign.  A joint effort between the City and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, posters all across the city remind New Yorkers that the best way to help the homeless on the streets and in subways is to call 311 to have an outreach team sent to help. Just remember that pocket change does nothing to help tackle the problem.

Another program is From Street to Home which moves away from conventional outreach methods focusing on the number of times a team contacts particular clients to one that emphasizes placing the longest-term or most chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing. In the past year, providers have placed over 1000 individuals, some with decades of street homelessness into permanent or transitional housing.

photo courtesy of projectharmonist.org

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