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CUOMO ANNOUNCES HOMELESS INFORMATION LINE AND DRIVE TO HELP HOMELESS PEOPLE DURING WINTER AND BEYONDWASHINGTON -- Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo today announced an unprecedented National Homeless Information Line and an intensified drive to recruit more people to help homeless Americans, in a satellite TV conference involving over 5,000 homeless assistance providers and others around the nation.
The effort is designed to help homeless people survive harsh winter weather and find permanent jobs and housing to become self-sufficient.
The toll-free phone line -- 1-800-HUD-1010 -- will connect callers from around the country with their local homeless services providers, creating the first such direct connection from a single phone number.
The local providers can summon help for homeless people who might otherwise be ignored and can also tell callers how they can provide long-term help to homeless adults and children in their communities. In addition, HUD will mail written material to callers detailing steps they can take to help homeless people obtain housing, jobs, health care and other services, and providing information on the national problem of homelessness.
Cuomo also announced that HUD will distribute over 300,000 Take Ten Tip Cards to callers to the National Homeless Information Line and to other groups. The wallet-sized cards encourage people to take ten minutes, hours, weeks or months to help homeless people in ten specific ways to find housing and jobs so they become self-sufficient.
In addition to going to callers to the Homeless Information Line, cards will be distributed by HUD field offices to supermarkets, bookstores and community centers. Other groups will be encouraged to reproduce and distribute the cards.
"Millions of Americans have walked by homeless people, wanting to help but not knowing how," Cuomo said. "HUD's Homeless Information Line and our Take Ten Tip Card give Americans a quick and easy way to get information on how to help homeless people in their own community."
"Our message is simple: take ten seconds to pick up the phone to bring homeless people immediate help, and then do more over 10 days or weeks or months to make a permanent difference in their lives," Cuomo said. "The warm hearts of caring Americans will shield homeless men, women and children from the winter freeze and help them build better lives."
The televised conference where Cuomo made the announcements brought together over 5,000 homelessness assistance providers, representatives of national homeless advocacy groups, local weather forecasters, and city officials at more than 70 sites across the country to assist local communities in making special winter preparedness plans for helping homeless people.
At the end of the national conference, people in each of the participating cities were scheduled to continue meeting to discuss ways to coordinate and improve their local efforts to help homeless people this winter.
Cuomo was joined at the conference by Dr. Ants Leetmaa, director of the Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service, who is a leading expert on the impact of El Niño. Weather forecasters believe storms caused by El Niño could worsen weather conditions in parts of the country this winter, making life on the streets harder.
The National Weather Service gave homeless assistance providers state-by-state temperature and precipitation predictions for the winter, including a presentation of how El Niño may affect the weather around the country.
Also present at the conference were several local homeless providers who shared successful winter preparedness strategies. Kelly Cronin, who works for the City of Boston, described the city's successful effort, which includes: outreach to homeless people on the streets, transportation to shelters, and additional overflow beds to meet cold weather demand for shelter.
Conference participants were given information and telephone contacts for successful homeless programs in nine cities, so they could learn from programs that work well. The cities are: Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Pittsburgh/Allegheny County (PA), Portland (OR), Richmond (VA), and Seattle.
The actions announced today by Cuomo are part of HUD's "Continuum of Care" strategy to help homeless people become self-sufficient and move into permanent housing. A Columbia University study concluded a year ago that HUD's homeless policies -- which were developed and overseen by Cuomo when he was an Assistant Secretary -- "have had a positive impact on communities across the nation" and were an improvement from past efforts that focused on short-term emergency shelter.
Non-profit groups, the private sector and local and state governments work together to develop and implement a continuum of care to provide permanent solutions to homelessness by providing homeless people not just with emergency shelter, but by emphasizing transitional and permanent housing, the study found.
In addition, the Continuum of Care program helps homeless people move out of poverty with programs such as job training, child care, substance abuse treatment and mental health care, according to the Columbia study.
Here's how the Homeless Information Line, which opened at 8 a.m. EST today, works:
The Homeless Information Line will be answered by operators from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time on weekdays. Callers on evenings and weekends will get an automated service that will give them toll-free local numbers for major cities and for all states to respond to emergencies.
The Take Ten Tip Card lists these tips for people who want to help homeless people in their community, and notes that more information is available from the Homeless Information Line:
Content Archived: January 20, 2009