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Before Pope Francis’ Visit, Mayor de Blasio & Cardinal Dolan Reveal Plans to House Homeless

Posted on September 23, 2015 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Today, the day before Pope Francis’ visit to New York City, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan stood behind Timothy Cardinal Dolan and Mayor Bill de Blasio as they announced that the Catholic Church will honor the Pope’s visit by working with the City to provide up to 150 beds with social services for street homeless individuals by the winter.

This is the first announcement resulting from work between the City and Archdiocese to leverage buildings in the Archdiocese portfolio that could potentially provide affordable housing and emergency shelters with services to homeless people in the city. The announcement demonstrates the Church’s long-standing tradition to help the poor and the needy and represents the largest allocation of beds in the Homeless Services clergy initiative, Opening Doors.

“Pope Francis’ visit is a time to reflect on our common humanity and obligations to one another,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Too often, our city’s homeless are stigmatized, ostracized, dehumanized, and we must remember that they are our fellow human beings in crisis. That’s why I’m proud and humbled to announce today that Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese are providing up to 150 beds for homeless New Yorkers on our streets. We must do all that we can to uplift those struggling and help get them back on their feet.”

Cardinal Dolan agreed.

“I am pleased to join with Mayor de Blasio in this important collaboration to assist some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers who currently call the streets of our City their home” Cardinal Dolan said. “This continues the Church’s long-standing commitment on behalf of New Yorkers through Catholic Charities and our parishes and schools to provide help and create hope in the lives of New Yorkers in need.”

Multiple officials echoed their sentiments:

  • “Faith-based organizations such as the Archdiocese are important community partners in our united efforts to uplift New Yorkers and combat inequality, poverty, homelessness and hunger. By leveraging underutilized properties in the Church, we can ensure more New Yorkers in need have a safe place to shelter and access crucial services to help rebuild their lives. I thank Cardinal Dolan for his forward-thinking, compassionate commitment to our homeless and for working with the City to connect more of these individuals with the support they need,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
  • “The support of the Church is extremely important in our efforts to reduce the number of people living on New York City streets,” said DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor. “The compassion and dedication of faith-based organizations play a critical role in providing individuals with a safe place to sleep and necessary services that can improve their lives.”
  • "I'm grateful to the Church for opening its doors to the neediest New Yorkers. Street homeless individuals are especially at risk in the winter, when a bed means not only a place to rest but also shelter from the cold. It's heartening to know that those in need can count on their houses of worship to help them get back on their feet and I thank the Mayor and the Archdioceses for their work to make these badly needed beds available," said Council Member Stephen Levin.

Participants of Opening Doors commit to providing between 10-19 beds, dinner, and social services in unused or community space to unsheltered homeless residing in their specific neighborhoods.  All sites will be open overnight, and some programs may remain open around-the-clock to provide daytime services.

Of the approximately 57,000 New Yorkers in shelter, over 40,000 are families with children. Homelessness in New York is exacerbated by high housing costs combined with low wages for those at bottom of the income ladder. In fact, 30-percent of the heads of households of families with children in shelter are currently employed and 46-percent of the heads of households of families with children are employed or were employed within the past year.

“We cannot deny the human crisis of homelessness in our city, just as we cannot deny our duty as New Yorkers to do all we can to meet this critical challenge of providing shelter and support to the most vulnerable among us,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “The announcement of the Catholic Church's partnership with the City to achieve this mission is truly welcome, particularly as Pope Francis makes his first visit to New York City. This announcement should serve as a call to action for all of our religious communities. I ask houses of worship in Brooklyn and beyond, regardless of creed, to help us combat homelessness and to welcome the stranger among us.”