Long Nights With Little Sleep for Homeless Families Seeking Shelter

August 31st, 2016  |  Source: NYT.com

Wednesday, New York City hit a record 59,373 people in shelters overseen by the Department of Homeless Services.

There is no clearer indicator of the homelessness crisis than in the Bronx at the intake center for families with children, where on a recent Saturday morning at 7:30, Larissa Galindo had just gotten off the bus from a temporary shelter.

“We’re tired,” Ms. Galindo, 19, said, burying her face in her hands and trying to wipe the sleep and frustration from her eyes. Unique, her 1-year-old daughter, looked up from a stroller. They had left the center, known as PATH, short for Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing, four hours earlier.

“I want to go to sleep,” Ms. Galindo said.

In a cascade of good intentions and unintended consequences, homeless parents and their children are facing dayslong waits and sleepless nights as they flood the city’s already overwhelmed homeless services.

Under a 1999 law that was supposed to give homeless families dignity and relief, parents and children seeking shelter are not allowed to sleep at the center. Instead, those still in the process of applying for housing at 10 p.m. must be given beds for the night. The city must also transport them to and from wherever they sleep so families can continue the application process the next morning.

But with 12,913 families in homeless shelters, which is also a record, and the city trying to avoid giving them “overnights” twice in a row, New York has created a bureaucracy of sleep that, paradoxically, keeps many families from getting any rest. Some yellow school buses transporting them to shelters leave the PATH center as late as 4 a.m. People who are loaded onto them then are bused back two hours later so they can be seen by 11 a.m., before a new wave of families arrives.

Read on here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/nyregion/long-nights-with-little-sleep-for-homeless-families-seeking-shelter.html?_r=1.




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