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NYC Mayor Bloomberg Will Offer HIV "Rapid Test' to Homeless
September 23, 2004
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced details of a homeless prevention initiative yesterday that he said was part of his five-year plan to end "chronic homelessness."
Besides creating six field offices aimed at slashing homelessness in high-need neighborhoods, the mayor said 2,500 units of housing will be built by a private agency for single people with special needs, part of a plan to build 12,000 new units in the next 10 years.
The city also revealed a new "rapid result" HIV testing program for single adult men entering shelters. The tests will provide results in one hour, not the usual seven days.
Bloomberg said the homeless plan was a "dramatic shift" in policy, moving the city away from the mind-set that emergency shelter is the sole solution.
"While everybody has a right to shelter, that doesn't mean emergency shelter is always right for everyone," he said.
In the coming weeks, the doors of HomeBase Offices will be opened. The offices will offer casework services, provide short-term financial assistance, as well as job training, child care and anti-eviction legal services. They will be funded with a $12-million allocation in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget.
The city will open two offices in the Bronx and one each in East Harlem, Jamaica, Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
While several agencies working with the homeless praised the mayor's plan, there were some reservations about certain aspects of it.
"We applaud this as an important first step, and we applaud the mayor," said Arnold Cohen, president and chief executive of the Partnership for the Homeless.
He said that while the program calls for new homes for "supportive housing," it also should focus on families who need permanent shelter.
"It is largely a program for single adults with special needs," he said.
Jim Anderson, a spokesman for the Department of Homeless Services, disputed Cohen's assertion, saying "nothing could be farther from the truth." Anderson said the mayor has doubled the placement of homeless families in permanent housing in the past year with more than 7,000 placements. He added that some of the housing units in the current plan will be available to families.
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