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NYC Department of Homeless Services services brings women of color faith and community leaders together for new, targeted homelessness prevention event


Friday, June 24, 2016


Lauren Gray, NYC Department of Homeless Services 917-790-3890


Women of color disproportionately impacted by homelessness, event focuses on prevention and breaking down myths

NEW YORK—Today, the NYC Department of Homeless Services hosted “I Am My Sister, My Sister is Me,” a new event at Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church that brought together women of color faith and community leaders to provide information on Homebase programs and other targeted homelessness prevention resources. Attendees heard from a panel of experts, including the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies’ Jennifer Jones Austin, Former City Council Speaker and Women in Need Executive Director Christine Quinn, Deputy Mayor of Health & Human Services Herminia Palacio, Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Cecile Noel, Faith in New York’s Onleilove Alston and others. Speakers presented educational information on drivers of homelessness among women of color, including poverty, domestic violence, affordable housing and others with the goal of taking this information back to communities across the City to keep families in their homes.

New York City’s women and children of color are disproportionately impacted by poverty and homelessness:

• Two-thirds of women in single adult shelters are Black or African-American and 26% identify as Hispanic/Latino.

• 70% of women heads of household in families with children shelter are Black or African-American and 36% identify as Hispanic/Latino.

Today’s event continues the NYC Department of Social Services’ coordinated homelessness prevention campaigns, including its recent Days of Action event series focused on connecting families with children to Homebase to address the annual spike in homelessness at the end of each school year. New York City’s Homebase program is the most comprehensive and innovative homelessness prevention network in the country, providing access to an array of services and financial assistance to help households on the brink of homelessness remain in their communities and out of shelter. Since July 2014, Homebase has provided services to more than 40,000 households across New York City.

“As part of this Administration's unwavering commitment to prevent and address homelessness in New York City, today we bring together women of color leaders from across the city to examine drivers of homelessness among women of color and work together to stem the tide through targeted prevention." said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “Addressing homelessness goes far beyond providing a safe place to sleep. I applaud the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for recognizing the need to address the root causes of homelessness, especially for women of color who are an underserved and increasingly vulnerable population,” said Chair of the Committee on Public Safety Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson. “By examining the impact of domestic violence, tenant harassment, and the wage gap has on low-income women of color and their families, we can better focus our prevention efforts and help New Yorkers stay in their homes. Today's discussion is an important step in raising community awareness about the driving factors of homelessness among low-income women of color and I look forward to partnering with DHS on this matter and on all efforts to ensure lasting housing stability for the people of New York.”

"Single women from communities of color form a majority of the homeless population in New York City, and nearly all are the heads of their households ¬ it's a daily struggle to make ends meet," said Christine Quinn, President of Women In Need (WIN). "Every night thousands of these courageous, extraordinary women will put their kids to bed in a Win shelter and wake up the next day, send their kids to school or day care, and set about putting their all into breaking the cycle of homelessness once and for all. A little known fact is that 46% of homeless women in our shelters are actually working. They are our sisters. We recognize as they do that in order to break the cycle we need a holistic system of support in place it's much more than four walls and a bed. I am proud to stand alongside other providers and organizations today in drawing attention to this initiative, and the work DHS is doing to break down barriers to develop real solutions for homeless women."

“It is a priority for the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence to connect all victims of intimate partner violence to the services they need. ‘I Am My Sister, My Sister Is Me’ is a welcomed event that builds bridges between individuals and families and the help that is available to them,” said Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Commissioner Cecile Noel. “We are honored to partner with the Human Resources Administration and Department of Homeless Services, community-based organizations and faith leaders to continue addressing the challenges experienced by too many women and their families in our city.”

“Today, the NYC Department of Homeless Services is proud to bring together women of color leaders from across New York City to focus on increasing homelessness prevention for women and families of color,” said Lorraine Stephens, First Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Homeless Services. “We hope our targeted efforts today will be another step forward in our important work to keep women and families in their homes and communities.”

“The Fortune Society is honored to be part of this event in support of the women who come to us to rebuild their lives with hope in their hearts and enormous unfair obstacles in their way,” said JoAnne Page, President and CEO of the Fortune Society.

“As a formerly homeless African-American woman of faith I know that if we do not deal with the affordable housing crisis in New York City more families will be torn apart by homelessness the way in which my family was torn apart during my childhood when we lost our home here in New York City,” said Faith in New York Executive Director Onleilove Alston. “In one of the richest cities in the world it is a moral failure that thousands of children go to sleep homeless every night. Now is the time to end the housing crisis in New York City and keep families together.” “We know that Black and Latino girls are overrepresented when it comes to the juvenile justice system, experiencing teen pregnancy and living in poverty. Unfortunately, when Black and Latino girls look for role models, they find that women of color are underrepresented in higher education, business, science and STEM, and government,” said Children’s Defense Fund-New York Executive Director Naomi Post. “The ‘I am My Sister’ event, which is bringing together women of color leaders and role models, is an important step toward identifying ways we can work together to help women and children of color living in poverty in the city and CDF-NY is proud to support.”

"I am extremely proud to support the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), ‘I Am My Sister, My Sister is Me’ event,” said YWCA of the City of New York President & CEO Dr. Danielle Moss Lee. “It is always a special honor to partner with other leaders from the public, social, and private sector in addressing the economic and public health challenges of the women and children of color living in poverty in New York City. The YWCA of the City of New York has provided programs and services for women and children that focus on eliminating racism and empowering women for over 150 years. Thank you so much for creating this amazing platform to raise the awareness that will bring about systematic changes needed to expand the reach of programs and services that have the potential to transform the lives of the women and families in New York City."

“The ‘I Am My Sister’ initiative hits home for me. It was my foster sister that inspired the launch of my organization Precious Dreams Foundation,” said Precious Dreams Co-Founder and Executive Director Nicole Russell. “It is imperative that we unite to provide support in every child’s efforts to pursue higher goals and follow their dreams. Every major corporation has found success because there was a great team behind it. I can only hope my 11 year old sister knows that even if her biological mother is not present, her foster sister and friend is there to give her the love she needs to break the cycle.”

“Mother Teresa once said: ‘I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.’ It is time to create ripples against poverty, and homelessness affecting women of color in this City,” said Latino Pastoral Action Center Chief Operating Officer Nilza I. Oyola. “We must no longer accept things that we are told cannot be changed, instead we must change things that we can't no longer accept as the status quo.

"Homelessness and hunger are serious issues affecting far too many New Yorkers – but together, we can better channel resources and help the vulnerable women and families we are discussing here today,” said Lisa Hines-Johnson, Chief Operating Officer, Food Bank For New York City. "Food Bank For New York City values our work in partnership with the government agencies and charities here, today and every day, to find solutions to issues that affect New Yorkers across the five boroughs."