Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Non-Story Appears on NY Times Front Page
All the newspapers, cable television, and wire services are lit up with the New York Times story about shipping homeless people to other communities. The Mayor of NY has had to issue a statement today, and the media is burning up the phones for the National Coalition and homeless advocates in New York City. This must be a slow news day, because this is a non story.
Let's get some perspective here: There are 9,700 families (including children) in the shelters every night in New York City. This program served 550 families over a year or an insignificant number for the nearly 100,000 homeless families within the City. Traveler's Aid is a legitimate service in a community. From the family stuck in the City trying to get home to a grandmother or to a job or the Mom who cannot afford the rent and has a place available to her in the Midwest, these are good programs. These are not forced relocation's. These are not dumping the problem on some other city. These are helping people with a need in the community. If the City pays $36,000 for shelter per family and can spend $400 on gas back to Michigan, this is a huge savings. I have no idea why this is such a big deal in the media except that the story was written in a slanted manner by focusing on the exotic trips.
We do not have any Traveler's Aid in Cleveland. First, because we cannot afford to lose any more people. We certainly don't want government to pay for Cleveland to be a smaller city. Secondly, we just don't have the money to pay to relocate people. Finally, our shelter costs are not as expensive as New York City and our housing is way cheaper than most other cities in America. It is not as economically sound to send people away as it is in the bigger cities like New York. Sometimes I wish we had this type of program, but I understand how politically sensitive this issue is in the media.
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