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Testimony: NYC’s Shelters Need Stronger Services, Reporting, and Accommodations for Clients

Residents in NYC’s shelter system often face insufficient resources and services, unfair treatment, and prolonged delays in their time living in shelters. Deborah Berkman, coordinating attorney of the Shelter Advocacy Initiative at NYLAG, has worked with numerous single adults and families residing in and trying to access the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system. On September 13, 2022, she Spoke before the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare about the treatment of residents and applicants within the DHS shelter system, and proposed multiple improvements to reduce the trauma and difficulties that applicants and residents face. 

Below is an excerpt from her testimony:. 

“Many of my clients have suffered from extreme physical or emotional trauma and discrimination. Shelters and intake centers are strongly policed, either by DHS police themselves or by private security providers. Overwhelmingly, clients report that their interactions with shelter and intake staff are either emotionally or physically aggressive. We recognize there is both a lack of cultural competency for staff working with diverse populations and a lack of recourse for these marginalized individuals.”

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