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Letter to HIV

Hey, how are you I know you’re not doing well, I can say that because you have not yet and never will you destroy my dreams, take away my hopes for the future or break me down. I used to be scared of you thinking that you would one day end my life but now I know that does not have to happen I’m in control, I call the shots not you.

I’ve learned that I live with you not for you and as long as you rent space in my body, my temple, you have to live by my rules. I hold the lease to your apartment and I look forward to the day when I don’t have to renew it.

HIV you’re sneaky, untrustworthy, and not worth me expending all of my wonderful energy worrying about what you can possibly do to me.

In closing I need to let you know that your days are numbered and through education and reaching out to our communities I know I have the platform necessary to let everyone know who you are and what you intend to do to all unsuspecting, uneducated people, so stay in your lane HIV I’m driving in this one.

Donnie White

Donnie White, CAB Member

HIV pos. since 1991

Commentary on Coalition of the Homeless Report 2012

Click here to read Coalition for Homeless Report.

 

The Bloomberg administration made a bold move in 2005 when it instituted the denial policy, which terminated the longstanding practice of homeless individuals, and families receiving priority federal housing vouchers (Section 8).  This decision was made largely because of the administrations belief that some people were taking advantage of the shelter system and using it as a “shortcut” to obtain the housing voucher.  The Bloomberg administration believed that if they ended this practice, the number of people applying for emergency shelter would decrease significantly.  Unfortunately, for the increasing number of individuals and families living in the Department of Homeless Services shelters across the city, they were wrong.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless “State of the Homeless 2012 Report”, the New York City shelter population is, “39 percent higher than it was ten years ago”.   The report also disclosed an increase in the length of time that people are residing in city shelters, which on average rose from nine months to 12 months.  In FY 2011, the number of families entering the shelter system was 51 percent more than in FY 2005, which was the year priority Section 8 vouchers were terminated for homeless people in the city.  Additionally, the report states that from FY 1990 through FY 2005, an average of 5,916 homeless families resided in city shelters, during the period when vouchers were still provided.  After the vouchers were terminated in 2005, an increase of 13,543 homeless families entered the shelter system.   The report also suggests a significant rise in the number of single adults in city shelters for the first time since the late 1980’s.  In total, nearly 113, 000 New Yorkers slept in DHS shelters in FY 2011.

Working with homeless, single, young adults for the past 14 years, I have witnessed firsthand the crippling impact that the termination of Section 8 vouchers has on my client’s ability to obtain/maintain permanent housing.  Most of my clients are equipped with the determination to succeed and become productive members of society, but due to their lack of formal education and work experience, it is difficult for them to secure jobs which will allow them to afford rents in most NYC apartments.  The absence of any rental assistance to help them with their monthly rent means longer shelter stays because it is more difficult for them to obtain permanent housing.   Consequently, for those who are fortunate enough to secure an apartment/room with their low paying jobs and the struggling economy, the chance of recidivism is extremely likely.  It has been a very discouraging experience for many of my clients and those of us who work with them, when clients are unable to maintain their apartments and have to return for shelter placement.

What is more disturbing to me is that in the Coalition of the Homeless report, it is estimated that on average it costs $3000 a month to house a family of four in shelter but only $800 in rental subsidy to pay rent for an apartment.  The report goes on to state that, “creating a new rental assistance program is not only the right thing to do it’s the fiscal responsible thing to do”.  Now I am far from an accountant, but I know that numbers don’t lie and these numbers make a whole lot of “cents” to me!  I hope and pray that the incoming city administration does not ignore this issue and creates a new path to independence and stability for all homeless New Yorkers.  Everyone deserves a fair chance and in my opinion, the only proven way to decrease the number of individuals/families in New York City shelters is to revamp the federal housing subsidy and make the homeless a priority!

 

By Iesha Moore, Director of Transitional Housing at Turning Point

My Turning Point

 

At Turning Point Transitional Shelter we try to empower our young women by giving them the tools they may need to make it in today’s society. The programs mission is to change lives by providing comfort and help to homeless young women ages 18 to 25. Many of these young women enter our program with little or no self-confidence. We (staff) started to see how this behavior affected their ability to make smart decisions regarding everyday life.  Like many of us have asked ourselves “what is wrong with me” or don’t take pride in how we look on the outside.

We (staff) felt that it was very important to make our clients feel good about themselves, so we started to volunteer our time and did a few of the clients hair for job interviews, appointments and their birthdays. The clients slowly started to show signs that this was successful and so we decided to continue doing it. Majority of the clients started to show great progress in the way they carry themselves and now spoke with confidence.

Clients and staff suggested that we do their hair and let them dress up and model for their peers, so we did. That was the beginning of TURNING POINT TRANSITIONAL HOUSING’s ANNUAL FASHION SHOW. We decided to host this event during the Thanksgiving holiday. This was our way of showing the clients that they are very important and appreciated.

After the success of the first fashion show, we received a lot of donations from different places like Women In Need, Turning Point staff members, Aisha Goodridge, Renee Hagwood, Alice Tapia and Rob Lewis who helped us made it an annual tradition for our agency. This event has become a highlight for our clients as well as the agency. The clients and staff work Above and Beyond “together in the spirit of community to make sure it is a success.

This year due to Hurricane Sandy, the event was postponed until our Christmas holiday celebration. We felt the need to uplift the spirits of everyone that we knew that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. So we decided to incorporate our Annual Fashion Show and our Christmas Coat Drive.  This was another successful event thanks to the generosity of our supporters. The organizations’ goal is to hopefully expand this event where other internal Turning Point programs clients can participate and help us in celebrating the empowerment of all of Turning Point’s clients.

 

By Nichole Waldron

Coordinator /Intake

 

 

                                                 

Headshot of Stacy, Resident of                                                      Stacy modeling for the annual fashion show

Turning Point Transitional Housing

 

                                                  

Turning Point Transitional                                                              Stacy, Resident of Turning Point’s

Housing staff & Stacy at annual fashion show                          Transitional Housing at annual fashion show                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                      

 

 

 

 

My Experience

My life had a remarkable change since the day I came to Turning Point.  They are very committed, supportive, and dedicated.  I knew I was in good hands, especially after I’ve been through the storm and back.  This was a part of my life, that I will better myself.  Turning Point was really preparing me for my future.  So I went there with a positive attitude and a bright smile.

I was smiling because I knew it took a lot of sacrifices for me to be there.  It was a part of my journey in my life to experience.  Yes, I must admit I didn’t have this planned in my life, but it was something I had to do.  There were plenty of days and nights when I thought I just could not do it anymore.  But having the faith, and believing myself, I got really far.  My situation was a little different than others, but I choose to be a *Star* at everything I do.

So I always kept a job and if I didn’t have one I dress up so sweet and professional looking for one.  When I got there, it was a whole new different atmosphere.  I thought it was all a dream, until I open my eyes and realize that it was reality.  I thought my life was over, not knowing my life was just starting.  It felt like the world was cold, with no one to call on.  Like the clouds was dark and heavy everyday and night with no sun.

It felt like the grass was there with no flowers blooming out of it.  When your tears fall, no one there to wipe away.  The worst feeling ever.  I was always the type of person to be ambitious, smart, sweet hearted, strong minded, caring, loving, loyal, honest, and very amusing.  I just could not understand why such things will happen to me.  But I had to accept it, and go about it the right way.

Now I’m working on being a writer.  Also sitting here in my own apartment, with my food handling certificate, my G.E.D., and also thinking about going back to college.  Turning Point turned me from a young girl, into a young independent, strong, young lady.  I recommend this place to everyone in the world.

I always knew I had a bright future.  I always kept it in the back of my mind since I was young.  I will be a *Star* one day.  I had to stay positive, and make right decisions in order to make it in life.  I just want to thank all Turning Point staffs, directors, case managers, and everyone’s help to improve a better me.

 

By Star A. Williams

I Love You Guys!!!

A Lifetime of Outcomes for Youth Education

A former student at Turning Point Educational Center applied for college this month. This is actually a pretty common event these days; more and more students attend our GED program expecting to do something big after they earn a GED. So why choose to write about it Turning Point’s first blog?

His story represents the Ed Center’s journey — and also, I hope, the path we’re working towards here in Sunset Park and Brooklyn.

“Rolando” first came to Turning Point in our lowest level ABE class (‘Adult Basic Education’) in 2009, at the age of 16. Many students struggle at this level. To begin with, they are often reading at a 5th grade level, with similar writing and math levels — so they have a lot of academic work to do. In addition, they are at least a year away from taking the GED test (due to minimum age requirements). And finally – most importantly – these young students are still growing into the adults they will become. Overall, their stay at class will be a little longer and a little more likely to be interrupted by the stresses of NYC life.

Rolando quickly established himself as a hard worker, quiet but with a strong presence, and a subtle sense of humor. Though he struggled in some academic areas, Rolando always worked his way through.

However, whenever the topic of post-secondary education came up, Rolando was very clear that it wasn’t for him. Not college, nor a degree-certificate program — nope, no thanks, nada, not even for discussion or consideration. He seemed to only envision himself on a straight-to-the-workforce model, with perhaps a short training program (both of which, studies tell us, net much less wage earnings than an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree).

Rolando continued in our classes, on and off, over the last 3 years. He progressed to the highest level class, GED Prep, but seemed to struggle with that last push to get over the top. Finally, he earned his GED in January 2012. Three years is a long time to keep at a single goal. The crucial benefit of such a journey is that Rolando didn’t just achieve his goal, but he developed and grew along the way.

Youth Development (YD) is a main tenant of the Ed Center’s mission, and YD ideals are a huge reason for our ‘beyond the GED’ culture. Teachers and counselors use effective and innovative techniques to create a safe space, within which students can overcome barriers to success and strategize long-term goals. (The Ed Center has had excellent partners in this process, including the Youth Development Institute’s CEPS program, Ramapo Training, and our fellow Sunset Park Alliance members.)

Over the last few months, we have seen the benefits of this developmental journey in Rolando. In January, with the help of Educational Center and Literacy Zone staff, Rolando landed a job at the Zoo. Signing up for CUNY is the latest step in his personal growth. His example reminds us that, sometimes, it’s enough to bring up the topic of long-term goal planning. Even if a student seems very disinterested at the time, seeds are planted and grow.

Rolando’s story is emblematic of many Ed Center students over the years. When I first began teaching at Turning Point six years ago, I often asked my students: “Do you want to go to college?” More often than not, the answer from the younger heads was pointed. College was “for other people,” “not for me,” “too hard,” or “too expensive.”

By consistently bringing up college as a possibility, our students slowly started to move their self-assessment from “No way!”, to “Maybe…”, and then eventually to: “College is a way to achieve my goals. I can do this.” Rolando’s long journey to achievement is also not uncommon for our youth — many take several years to accomplish their goals. (Indeed, the field is increasingly recognizing that youth development outcomes are inherently varied and long term). We are always here for students when they decide to return and continue their journey.

Rolando readily acknowledges he is nervous about the new challenges of college; but his quiet smile says everything you need to know about the confidence he is building to keep achieving.

 

By Josh Willis