In the upcoming year, CUCS will roll-out a series of new projects and programs that will expand our capacity to serve more individuals and families in New York City.
In part two of our interview with Tony Hannigan, CUCS Founder, President and CEO, we discuss some of these new developments and his hopes for the future as we continue to celebrate our 24th birthday!
Looking forward, what are some developments that you are most excited about at CUCS?
I am very interested in Paul’s Place, our new drop-in center and safe haven that we will open in February 2018. We are calling it Paul’s Place in honor of Paul Gualano, our Chief Operating Officer who passed away last July.
For various reasons, some years back, the City closed many drop-in centers and safe havens. This change upstream had ramifications downstream, largely felt by people living on the street and by New Yorkers who saw more homeless people. Among the homeless, there are people who will not go to a shelter but will go to a drop-in center for a shower, a meal, or just to get out of the cold. The centers also provide a place to be with others, make phone calls, search the net, and watch the news. Our new drop-in center, which will have a safe haven upstairs with 24 beds, will be the answer for some of the people who will not go to a shelter but may be open to other options and support. It will work in tandem with the Manhattan Street Outreach Teams and provide primary and mental health care in addition to housing placement services.
As of July 1st, under a contract with the City, CUCS is the lead organization responsible for addressing street homelessness in Manhattan. We bring our triad of housing, psychiatric and medical services and a unique partnership with Breaking Ground and Goddard Riverside which, together with CUCS, comprise the Manhattan Outreach Consortium.
How do you think these new developments will play a role in helping the City reduce the number of homeless individuals on the streets of Manhattan?
Our new drop-in center and safe haven will be on 14th Street, which is an area with a high concentration of homeless people. Our safe haven in Harlem, ranked number one out of 200 NYC programs by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for the third year in a row, will be expanding to serve even more street homeless men and women. That New York State and New York City announced respective plans to collectively introduce 35,000 new supportive housing units extending over numerous years will have a tremendous impact and provide permanent housing opportunities for people living on the street and in shelters.
What is your dream for the future?
My dream would be to bring street homelessness down to what is called functional zero. Functional zero takes into account that there are will always be some people experiencing homelessness but aims to end street homelessness as we currently know it. For example, in New York City, we have reached functional zero for homeless veterans. There are still several hundred veterans experiencing homelessness, but that number has been reduced from thousands. So it would be great if we could bring the same focus and will to street homelessness.
What would need to be done to reach this goal?
There are many things we would need that we do not yet have. For starters, we would need more safe havens, stabilization beds, and treatment and employment programs. Over the years, however, we have moved closer and closer to this advanced network of housing and supports, so maybe someday it can actually be achieved.