Homelessness

Eli Carter: From Homelessness to Housing and Advocacy

Eli Carter, formerly homeless resident of Urban Pathways' Safe Haven

Eli Carter, formerly homeless resident of Urban Pathways' Safe Haven

Born in Pensacola Florida, Eli moved to New York for work after finishing highschool in 1963.

Soon after arriving in New York Eli found a job working in a printing press. He worked at the same company for 40 years until his retirement, moving up from an associate to printing manager.

During this time Mr. Carter was living in Brooklyn in a house where he rented a room. He lived at this location until he was told to leave by the police as the owner of the house had not been paying the mortgage thus leaving Mr. Carter homeless.

For 2 years, Eli lived in Penn Station relying on his social security income (that was direct deposited to his card) to survive.

He only left Penn Station to get food, and never got on the trains or went to a city shelter as he had heard horror stories about men and women being abused and taken advantage of.

Eli kept all his important documents with him in a folder and never let it out of his sight. When he was approached by Urban Pathways outreach team about the Olivieri Drop-In Center he was naturally hesitant thinking the location was the same as a city shelter.

After 3 months of continuous outreach Mr. Carter finally agreed to go to The Olivieri Drop-In Center where he started working towards acquiring housing and stability.

The Antonio Olivieri Drop-In Center 

The Antonio Olivieri Drop-In Center 

Since Eli had all his personal documents and information with him he was able to speed up the process of gaining housing faster than most at-risk and homeless individuals usually do.

Mr. Carter moved into Urban Pathways’ Safe Haven residence in Brooklyn a little over 2 years after losing his apartment. In early 2017, Mr. Carter moved into his own apartment in Harlem with the help of the staff at Urban Pathways. He never forgets how helpful the Safe Haven staff was and credits them for getting him stabilized and back on his feet.

Hegeman Safe Haven In Brooklyn 

Hegeman Safe Haven In Brooklyn 

The staff at Hegeman was always there for me when I needed them. They helped me find my own apartment. They were so helpful in making sure I had everything I needed and that I found a studio apartment somewhere that was comfortable and that I was sure would work for me.”

Now, Eli lives comfortably in his studio apartment where he watches his grandchildren after school and continues to stay in touch with his 3 children who live in various parts of the city.

He also travels back to Florida where he still has family he keeps in touch with.

Eli has also become active in Urban Pathways Peer Advocacy headed by Nicole Bramstedt, Director of Policy at Urban Pathways.

When I was working and living in my room, I would always empathize with the homeless. I would give them any food or drink that I had, and I would even buy people food if they asked.

Once I became homeless, I saw so many things wrong with the systems in place to help at-risk and homeless men and women. Once I was able to stabilize in the Safe Haven, I joined Nicole’s advocacy group to help bring an increased awareness to the plight of the homeless, and to use my experience living in the street to help those who are where I used to be.

The advocacy group has been instrumental in giving me a voice to talk to community leaders, politicians, and other formerly homeless individuals. I feel like this is my calling now, when I encounter a homeless person I try and talk to them about my experience and the fact that I now have my own apartment.

I think continuing to spread the word about organizations like Urban Pathways can only help those who need it most.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org. Donate

Join us for Homeless Persons' Memorial Day 2017

Urban Pathways, in partnership with Long Island University Brooklyn and Care for the Homeless is holding its annual Homeless Persons' Memorial Day, commemorating those who passed away this year while experiencing homelessness.

The event will take place at the LIU Brooklyn Campus, Luntey Commons, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn (the entrance is on the corner of Dekalb and Flatbush Avenues). The evening will begin with a meal at 4:30 p.m. followed by the program at 5:30 p.m.

The program will feature a meal, live entertainment, and a special tribute with a reading of names of those we lost this past year. As each name is read, a bell will toll and a candle will be lit. The memorial is free and open to the public. You can register here.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org. Donate 

Community Advocate for the homeless, Deborah Dickerson speaks in Hamburg, Germany

DeBoRah Dickerson on 3rd Avenue between 106th and 107th street. (Courtesy of City Limits) 

DeBoRah Dickerson on 3rd Avenue between 106th and 107th street. (Courtesy of City Limits) 

Community advocate for the homeless, chaplain and former client at Urban Pathways; DeBorah Dickerson is traveling to Hamburg, Germany this month to continue her advocacy on homelessness at the Right to the City Alliance - Transatlantic Workshop.

Dickerson, being sponsored by fellow nonprofit Picture the Homeless will speak on a panel of 10 women of color from various backgrounds covering a wide range of topics from: race, migration to democratic governance.

DeBorah speaks during the Right to the City Transatlantic Workshop

DeBorah speaks during the Right to the City Transatlantic Workshop

Upon her return, DeBorah plans to take the information she has learned on alternative housing methods and theories on universal rental control and present it to the New York City Coalition for Continuum of Care Consumers Committee, which meets in Harlem.

DeBorah believes it is important to know and understand the population you intend to help and looks forward to speaking at more conferences, panels and workshops; both domestically and internationally.

Follow the workshop panels on twitter.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org.

Donate Today

 

Learning About Housing Policy Abroad

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Director of Policy for Urban Pathways Nicole Bramstedt  

Nicole Bramstedt, Director of Policy at Urban Pathways took part in a unique exchange program this past April.

 The Transatlantic Practice Exchange is an opportunity for homeless staff in the U.K. and the U.S. to trade places in an effort to explore a practice and share it upon their return; this year Nicole was lucky enough to be chosen.

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

              Crisis UK, a homeless services organization. 

 Nicole spent 3 weeks working with Crisis, a 50-year old homeless organization with offices and services in England, Scotland, and Wales. Nicole’s goal was to learn what strategies Crisis uses to engage the private rental sector (PRS) to address homelessness.

 Crisis provides education, employment, housing and well-being services. Since 1997, Crisis has worked to make the (PRS) a viable housing option for the homeless. This is done by engaging the landlords, and understanding their concerns. Once the landlords concerns are heard, Crisis develops strategies to combat these issues starting pre, and during tenancy that benefit both the homeless and the landlord.

 The Tenancy Support Program begins with a housing induction to familiarize potential members with housing services. Crisis then explains the realities of the tight U.K. rental market, and the need to adjust housing expectations. Potential members then attend a Mini Renting Ready workshop that provides information on how to search for housing, the type of housing to search for, and the rent one can afford. After the workshop, members work with a housing coach and attend a “property searching club”.

 Tenancy support also aids members during tenancyby providing accredited Renting Readycourses including: housing rights, money management, and communications (tenant to tenant— tenant to landlord).

 This program enhances exit options, tenancy sustainment, and facilitates the transition to housing. According to staff at Crisis, landlords prefer tenancy support and have been more inclined to offer tenancy to individuals who have shown commitment to the program; sometimes even at lower rents.

 Landlords also prefer the consistent support by reputable providers that the tenancy program provides. Crisis engages landlords in advocacy; keeping them up to date on policy recommendations so that they are implemented, and homeless issues can be resolved.

 After her 3 week placement abroad, Nicole arrived back at Urban Pathways with the following feedback:

In the U.S. I think we need to think outside the box about addressing homelessness, all sectors should make efforts to work together. Crisis’ practices of tenancy training and engaging landlords in both housing and advocacy address the lack of information among the landlords, and the homeless.

My recommendations to improve sustaining tenancy and exit options are providing tenancy training in Shelters, Drop-In Centers, and Safe Havens. Utilizing matching programs for homeless individuals placed in shared permanent housing. Develop a housing pilot program for adults exiting transitional housing, and needing tenancy support. Finally engage landlords in homeless advocacy. “

These initiatives will aid in bridging the gap between the stakeholders, providers and the homeless.

We thank Nicole for taking part in the Transatlantic Practice Exchange and working with Crisis.

About Urban Pathways
Urban Pathways is a New York City-based, nonprofit organization that provides housing and support to homeless and at-risk adults throughout the New York Metropolitan area.  Urban Pathways serves more than 2,000 homeless individuals a year and provides transitional, extended stay and permanent housing to chronically homeless individuals. www.urbanpathways.org