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We are affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the association of Conservative congregations in North America.

Homelessness Increasing on Long Island

Tikkun Olam

HOMELESSNESS INCREASING ON LONG ISLAND

Family Shelters On The Rise

By: The Tikkun Olam Committee

Suffolk officials say homelessness has increased across the County because of the recession and grew with Superstorm Sandy. Many Sandy victims are still struggling and the County is obligated to provide them emergency shelter.

Members from the Commack Jewish Center formed the Tikkun Olum Committee in hopes of helping families in need. We immediately found large family shelters housing hundreds of families within a few miles of us, over 500 of those homeless are children. After visiting the shelters on many occasions, it was evident that not one of those residents wants to be there, but because of the slow-recovering economy and the rising costs of housing on long Island- they have no choice. Ever wonder what their days are like?

Once a family reports to the Department of Social Services (DSS) that they are homeless and their finances allot them space at a shelter, DSS searches for the closest shelter to where the children were going to school. However, if those shelters are all filled, they could be traveling an hour away, and those children are still required to be bused to their original school district.

Each morning buses arrive at the shelters from all over Long Island and attendance is taken to make sure each child is on their assigned bus. While the children are at school, the parent(s) must try and find permanent housing with the help of DSS, and large shelters have a housing department to help. They also must try and find work or attend school.

The parent(s) must be back at the shelter by 2:30pm to get their children from the bus. The children come home starving, as they have little food. Each of the residents rooms are only equipped with a small refrigerator and a microwave. They have no ovens. Many of their healthy snacks come from volunteers, such as ours.

Children living in shelters are not allowed to have friends over and their parents cannot have guests. Having other people from the shelter in your room is also not allowed. Sunday –Thursday the shelters perform bed checks where each family member must be in their room by 9pm. On Friday and Saturday, the curfew is 11pm. The shelters also perform daily room checks to observe cleanliness and see if any damages have occurred. A messy room could result in a violation and damages need to be paid for by the resident or they can risk eviction. If a resident does not follow the rules, a verbal warning is given, followed by a written warning, followed by a violation. After 3 incidents the resident is put on a behavioral modification plan and is at risk for discharge. If you would like to contribute funds you may drop a check off at the synagogue office or via Paypal on CJC’s website. If you would like to volunteer at a family shelter, please email us at enjinear@aol.com; and we are always collecting healthy snacks. Please have a heart for the homeless.

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