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Advocates say outdated laws and government funding cuts are making it harder for one of New York's most overlooked populations â€” homeless young people at risk for sexual exploitation and human trafficking â€” to get the help they need.
That was the message from the leaders of youth outreach programs who testified today at a hearing convened by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Westchester County and the chair of the Committee on Children and Families.
The goal of the hearing was to examine the current system in place to help homeless young people and to discuss how to handle the lack of funding for assistance program.
Under the current budget, $1.5 million in funding provides homeless children with safe shelter and short-term or long-term housing and guidance.
While these programs are in place and have been proven to work, the recent funding cuts have only led to a decrease in the number of young people that are able to receive the assistance they need.
To meet the growing need to shelter the homeless, the Bloomberg Administration has been using its power of emergency authority to create shelters as quickly as possible, bypassing the typical community approval process. Unlike in other cities, New York is required by law to provide shelter to every person who seeks it. Ten new homeless shelters in recent months, in places that include the Upper West Side. Every night, 46,000 people seek shelter, the highest number ever recorded. New York City makes up 14 percent of the nation's homeless, with Los Angeles a distant second at 3 percent.
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