Thanks to an email reply from The Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy organization, I’ve been able to find some official documentation of the existence of the “5-or-0 rule” in a City of New York concept paper. There are 2 concept papers related to the Bloomberg administration’s plan to aid the city’s 35,000+ chronically homeless individuals. (See the NYC DHS homepage for the daily census of known homeless receiving services.)
The paper describing the reorganization of the DHS Drop-in Center program describes what DHS contracted vendors (coordinators of shelters, essentially) must require of those who would provide shelter, to include that they must be open 5 nights per week. Neither document provides the rationale for this rule. A phone call to DHS to inquire found a helpful person on the other end who said she didn’t know, but would try to find out and reply to me by email (NYC phones can’t call outside the metropolitan area codes).
The Coalition for the Homeless, in response to the DHS concept papers released last week, yesterday released their analysis of the impact of the plan. You can read that here.
I share all this with you for your action. I don’t even live in New York City, but I am outraged by several aspects of this plan.
First, that the government is exerting control over caring for the chronic homeless, and then making it more difficult for them to actually get help.
Second, that the 5-or-0 nights rule appears to mainly impact faith-based shelters.
Third, church, we’ve given the government responsibility and control over how we serve the least of these!
Do you want to be known for closing your doors to the homeless? Really? Because that’s what the people you formerly sheltered will see – “that church doesn’t help us anymore.” Or do you want to be known for passionately and creatively serving the poor? Beloved, God commanded us to care for our neighbor, not the government.