World magazine reports that New York City’s public shelters housed 50,000 people in January, a 19% surge from a year ago — not including those homeless because of Superstorm Sandy — and up 73% over a decade ago. A massive outreach called Don’t Walk By sent thousands of volunteers out to talk with homeless in Manhattan, giving them supplies and directing them to churches for a hot meal and medical care.
“We’re living in a time where people have two choices: You pay your rent, you don’t eat. You eat, and you’re homeless,” said James Macklin, director of outreach at NYC’s Bowery Mission. “We’re trying to fix the human being so he can get out of the condition he’s in, not enabling him to stay where he’s at.”
Emily Belz writes:
NEW YORK—How many blocks are there in Manhattan? More than 6,000. Over the last month, volunteers from a coalition of ministries to the homeless have canvassed every block on the island in a massive outreach called Don’t Walk By.
Thousands of volunteers talked with those living on the street and in the subways, provided them with emergency kits, and directed them to nearby churches where they can get a hot meal and medical care.
These ministries have been blanketing Manhattan for the last five winters, when the homeless population is most vulnerable. From 2009 to 2012, volunteers met about 4,000 homeless, and about 1,700 have returned with volunteers to neighborhood churches for care. For many homeless people, the conversations on the street are the beginning of a relationship that leads to rehabilitation programs, jobs, and permanent housing.
The ministries concluded their month-long project this past weekend, as new numbers emerged showing homelessness in New York at a record-high. In January, the city’s public shelters housed 50,000 people, a 19 percent surge from a year ago, according to a report from the Coalition for the Homeless released Tuesday. The number represents a 73 percent rise from a decade ago. The latest numbers do not include those who are homeless because of Superstorm Sandy.
“New York is facing a homeless crisis worse than any time since the Great Depression,” said Mary Brosnahan, president of the Coalition for the Homeless, in releasing the report.
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What is your church doing to help the homeless in your community?