Legal Aid Praises City for Adding Beds for Homeless Youth, but Urges Expansion of Shelter Stays and Special Services
MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2016

The Legal Aid Society praised Mayor de Blasio for announcing that the City will add a total of 300 beds over the next three years for homeless youth 18 and older but warned that “our clients will continue to suffer” if the city and state do not expand shelter stays and create access to permanent housing.

In 2013, The Legal Aid Society and the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler filed a federal lawsuit to require the City to make the specialized beds available to all young people seeking them. Kim Forte, Supervising Attorney of the LGBT Law and Policy Initiative of The Legal Aid Society told the New York Times that “We are happy that the city is committed to expanding the number of beds to begin to meet this important need."

"Our clients, homeless young people, desperately need these emergency youth shelter beds to get off the streets," Ms Forte said. "We are happy that the City is committed to expanding the number of beds to begin to meet this important need. However, unless the City, with the State’s agreement, stops evicting young people to the streets after 30 to 60 days in shelter, expands access to permanent housing, and provides critical support services to stabilize youth in all city shelters, our clients will continue to suffer. We look forward to working with the City to resolve these critical issues and the claims asserted in the litigation filed by The Legal Aid Society and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, CW v City of New York (EDNY) 13 CV 7376(SJ)(VVP) on behalf of a class of homeless youth 16 to 20 years of age."




The New York Times
New York to Add 300 Shelter Beds for Homeless Young People
By NIKITA STEWART
JAN. 8, 2016

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his latest attempt to address New York City’s homelessness crisis, unveiled a plan on Friday to add 300 shelter beds for older teenagers, an age group that advocates say is underserved and especially vulnerable to suicide and sex trafficking.

Many homeless adolescents are or were runaways. Often they have fled homophobia in their own families, only to find their sexual orientation unwelcome in traditional homeless shelters, which has led advocates to push the city to add to the 453 beds it now has for people ages 16 to 20.

The plan announced by the mayor will add 100 beds a year over the next three years to serve that same age group, a sizable increase but one that service providers say will still leave the system well short of the need.

They estimate the number of homeless young people at 3,800, some of them sleeping on couches and others living in the streets, sleeping on trains or finding shelter through prostitution. Half of the current beds are “crisis” beds and limited to stays up to 60 days, a restriction Mr. de Blasio said he was trying to get the state to expand to three months.

In 2013, the Legal Aid Society and the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler filed a federal lawsuit to require the city to make the specialized beds available to all young people seeking them. The city has argued that young people 18 and older can find shelter through the Department of Homeless Services, like other populations of homeless people. The lawsuit is pending.

Kim Forte, a supervising attorney for the Legal Aid Society, said that “our clients will continue to suffer” if the city and state did not expand shelter stays and create access to permanent housing. “We are happy that the city is committed to expanding the number of beds to begin to meet this important need,” Ms. Forte said.

The announcement on Friday was Mr. de Blasio’s third this week on social services. On Monday, he made public an initiative to improve conditions in the city’s shelters, and on Wednesday, he announced the appointment of Herminia Palacio as the deputy mayor of health and human services, ending a four-month search to fill the administration’s top social services post.

Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, made his latest announcement at Covenant House, a shelter for young people that is near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He was empathetic and reflective, drawing a connection from homeless young people to his own children.

*But frustrated by the attention of the last several months on the city’s homelessness problem, the mayor criticized the news media and his predecessors, saying the roots of the problem go back many years.

“I’m going to be really clear and blunt in 2016,” he said. “We have to be responsible for everything that’s happened in the last two years. And everyone else who was there before us should be responsible for what happened on their watches, and we should all take responsibility.