Friday, April 24, 2009

Response to Lew Fidler

Dear Friend of Runaway and Homeless Youth,

As one of the "losers", let me be the first to say that Sylvia's Place of MCCNY Homeless Youth Services is here to stay and will remain the NYC institution it has become. We are looking into every alternative means to recoup these funds to prevent programatic cuts.

I do appreciate all the work of Lew Fidler as he is our greatest ally in the NYC Council addressing issues legislatively after getting advisement of RHY service providers. We will continue to support every endeavor the New York City Council puts forth on behalf of LGBTQ RHY. Let me take this opportunity to personally thank the work being done by Chair Fidler to add LGBTQ youth to the RHY Act and I look forward to the day that this legislation is signed onto National RHY Act, so that we can begin appropriations of funding for this population that all evidence shows is going underserved not only in NYC, but globally. The support of Chair Fidler's and Speaker Quinn's offices are integral in the work that needs to happen in this city in order to see that our youth are all accounted for and provided services.

That said, we have a long way to go and we need the support of the New York City Department Youth and Community Development to see that all RHY programs providing essential services to the homeless and street-involved youth are included in this continuim so that every one of the lives of our young people are equally valued and cared for. As service providers, we are all in a position to advocate on behalf of the best interest of the youth on the streets and their development which we will do every time we see injustice in the system that governs, administers funding, or in any way effects this population. In your efforts to track the data of program changes as a result of this RFP, I want you to keep in mind all of the youth that continue to be out of service or are being provided by services that have yet to included in this "system" that has been developed in NYC.

The work being done at the Empire State Coalition and the NYC Association of Homeless and Street-Involved Youth Organizations are also to be credited for the great strides taken in this city and state to assure that the RHY population are provided adequate services and that all service providers are brought to the table. If their model of seeing and addressing trends with this population were to be replicated by the entities involved in funding decisions, we would be further on the road to attaining our collective goals.

MCCNY Homeless Youth Services does not have city funded beds so we were in the unique position to fight for those that do. We are a service provider that has fought aggressively from its inception to provide the services needed to get these youth off the streets and into city funded crisis beds with waiting lists in the hundreds. Our drop-in program is critical to the process of getting them access to services, putting them on the lists for crisis beds, getting them identification, and caring for them until they get into a program elsewhere. We all depend on each other to co-exist and work effectively for the young people that we serve. Informing us that our population could be adequately served elsewhere is unacceptable, as suggested in the form letter from DYCD to MCCNY Homeless Youth Services and every individual advocating on our behalf. DYCD is in no position to know what is best for the development of the youth in our program, but unfortunately their decisions will effect the lives of these young people.

Our call on City Council Members was in no way to suggest that they had anything to do with these DYCD matters, but our only real chance for resolving them. Thus, as our elected officials we need their full support in getting DYCD to address these issues as it is the city entity designed to administer the funds going into RHY programs.

The inadvertant consequences of this DYCD RFP process were too much for us to ignore. We need to see the evidence of these large service gaps that DYCD has left us with being addressed and look forward to hearing real solutions to this matter by DYCD Commisioner Jeanine Mulgrav and the City Council Members going into coversation. Making great strides forward and then steps backwards is not effective to providing the consistant growth that we need to see in order to attain the goal of EVERY child being afforded shelter from the streets of this city.

Lucky S.Michaels
Program Director
MCCNY Homeless Youth Services

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