Police, Safe Horizon target homelessness

Police, Safe Horizon target homelessness
Photo by Michael Shain
By Naeisha Rose

The 102nd Precinct and Safe Horizon, an agency that helps victims of violence, has created a new program called the Crime Victims Assistance Program.

For the first time, both institutions joined Queens Connections, an interagency initiative between the Dept. of Homeless Services, the Dept. of Social Services and Queens Public Library July 17 to combat homelessness. CVAP associates will go to libraries in Queens to talk with victims of violence so that they can provide them information through Queens Connections on how to get a better footing in life and avoid becoming destitute, according to Bryan Pacheco, a spokesman for Safe Horizon.

“Safe Horizon advocates are committed to engaging with the local community to inform members of the services and programs available to them should they be a victim of crime or abuse. And, unfortunately, we know that abuse can lead to homelessness,” said Pacheco. “As an example, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness and many survivors seek a safe place to stay after fleeing an abusive relationship. Through these outreach events, we can let survivors know the options available to them and connect them to services that can help keep them safe.”

The agencies within Queens Connections work together at libraries like Lefferts and Central Library, to combine their resources and supplement the work of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams, according to Arianna Fishman, a DHS spokeswoman.

HOME-STAT uses maps and 311 calls from New Yorkers who spot people in need and sends street teams to contact those who are destitute or facing destitution weekly so that those who are struggling can use resources from Queens Connections to transition out of homelessness or stay in their home, according to nyc.gov.

Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott was pleased that individuals were able to use the library to better their lives.

“The program makes it possible for us to more effectively help the homeless and those at risk of losing their housing when they visit our libraries, and gives us a chance to introduce them to the services we offer, such as job placement programs, computer workshops and literacy classes,” Walcott said.

Last year, Queens Library, DSS and DHS helped to keep 748 people off the street throughout New York City, according to Fishman.

These agencies were proud of the work that they have done and hope to strengthen their partnership.

“We know there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the citywide challenge of homelessness, which built up over many decades,” said Isaac McGinn, a DHS spokesman. “Strengthening collaboration with agencies and provider partners across the board is crucial to building on last year’s progress and finding the unique solutions that will encourage individuals to accept a helping hand.”

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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