HOMELESS DEBATE DEFANGED

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New York City’s homeless policy has long been shaped by two opposing forces: an administration determined to rein in the problem, and advocates trained to defend the rights of their indigent clients. Now a new voice has emerged: a coalition of service providers staking out the middle ground. New Yorkers for Ending Homelessness includes local luminaries like Sam Tsemberis, director of Pathways to Housing, and Eric Brettschneider, director of Agenda for Children Tomorrow. Those involved say they want to move the debate out of the courts and into the public realm, drawing on available data and research. They also plan to examine the best practices of other cities, such as San Francisco, which uses a housing-first model to get single adults off the streets. Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, a former city commissioner who now runs a nonprofit for homeless teens, co-chairs the group’s steering committee along with Rosanne Haggerty, president of Common Ground Community, a housing provider. “We wanted to change the nature of the dialogue that we’re having around homelessness,” said Barrios-Paoli. “We want to say ‘homelessness is solvable and this is how.'” (C. Feldman) [11/21/05]