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Offering a Hand Up, Not a Handout: Homeless Street Outreach During the Republican National Convention
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When the Republican National Committee chose New York City’s Madison Square Garden for its 2004 convention, it was the first time in 12 years a major political convention was held there. The last time, during the 1992 Democratic convention, there were widespread complaints about a lack of communication between the City, the homeless and homeless service providers in the area. There were also allegations that homeless individuals living in the area had been displaced with little warning. This year, despite much greater security, every effort was made to improve the flow of information to homeless clients in the area and to minimize the disruption of their lives. Outreach specialists from the Bowery Residents’ Committee’s Project Rescue intensified their usual efforts to engage and assess homeless clients and place them into services. In the months leading up to and during the convention, Project Rescue also became an important source of information and assistance for homeless individuals in the Midtown area, helping them prepare for the changes that were coming, and to use these changes as an opportunity to make a change in their lives. As a result, 87 individuals decided to leave the streets and at least 30 of these remain in their placements today. The success of this effort is due to early planning and ongoing cooperation between the City of New York, the Bowery Residents’ Committee, and other service providers who worked in the vicinity, and can serve as a model for other large events in high security environments. (Authors)
New York, NY
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