Monday, February 18, 2013

The city's 'code blue' policy that provides shelter for people when temperatures dip below freezing is leaving families out in the cold

Homeless advocates claim the Bloomberg administration and the Department of Homeless Services have been turning away families who can't prove they have nowhere else to go


Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013, 2:00 AM











Junior and Kaneesha Clarke with their daughter Janiah,4, are homeless and struggling in the cold , here on the corner of Linden and Supthin Blvd. Usually during a Code Blue the city would relax its shelter admissions rules so people on the street could come inside but thats no longer true.Queens, Friday January 25,2013 (photo Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)

Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News

Junior and Kaneesha Clarke with their daughter Janiah,4, are homeless and struggling in the cold. Usually during a 'code blue' the city would relax its shelter admissions rules so people on the street could come inside but thats no longer true.

Families seeking refuge on frigid winter nights were once guaranteed a place in the city’s shelters.
Not anymore.
Homeless advocates and elected officials are accusing the Bloomberg administration of turning families away from shelter when the temperature plunges below freezing.
Take Junior Clarke, 23, and his family. The dad said city workers told him to leave the Bronx PATH Center — an intake hub for families — during a cold snap last month.
“They tried to send us outside into the cold,” said Clarke, 23, who was with his his wife, Kaneesha, 23, and 4-year-old daughter, Janiah. “They threatened to have us thrown out by police.”
The city historically invoked “code blue” status when the temperature dipped below freezing, easing shelter restrictions to get people indoors.
It’s not clear when, exactly, the city altered its policy and started enforcing rules requiring some shelter residents to prove they have nowhere else to go — even on cold winter nights.
RELATED: NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN CITY'S HOMELESS SHELTERS NEARS 48,000
CODEBLUE17N_5_WEB

Lucas Jackson/AP

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaves the podium after presenting his proposed executive 2013 New York City budget at City Hall in New York, Thursday, May 3, 2012. The total proposed city budget exceeds $68.7 billion this year and Bloomberg has until the end of June to negotiate a final version with the City Council. (AP Photo/Lucas Jackson, Pool)

Homeless advocates first noticed the policy change this winter due to the long stretch of bitter cold.
Department of Homeless Services spokeswoman Barbara Brancaccio refused to answer questions about when the policy changed — or why. She failed to return multiple phone calls made over a week and refused to grant an interview with Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond, who did not respond to emailed questions.
Instead, Brancaccio sent a vague statement that said all families applying for shelter for the first time are given a bed — but returning families have to meet city criteria. “For reapplications, we take into account weather conditions, and we work to ensure that applicants who have alternate living situations do not take up beds that are needed by those who truly have no recourse,” Brancaccio’s statement said.
Asked for clarification, she sent the statement again.
The Clarkes were considered reapplicants when they showed up at the center Jan. 22. They stayed in shelter for 10 days in 2008 after being thrown out of his mother-in-law’s Suffolk County home, Junior Clarke said. The family had returned to the center because they were kicked out of a rented room after falling behind on rent, Clarke said. He lost his job as an EMT in December.
At PATH, shelter workers told him to go back to his mother-in-law’s house. Clarke told them the family wasn’t welcome.
“They tried to make us leave and we refused,” Clarke said. “You know some people leave, walk away and go sleep on the train with their families.”
RELATED: BROOKLYN HIT WITH CROP OF SIX NEW SHELTERS IN TWO YEARS AS HOMELESS POPULATION SWELLS

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/heart-ice-mayor-change-code-blue-policy-leaving-homeless-cold-article-1.1266176#ixzz2LHCpZOlG
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