Touro College Graduate School of Social Work Takes Part in NYC’s Eleventh Annual ‘HOPE’ Survey
Students, faculty, administrators and support staff from the Touro College Graduate School of Social Work (GSSW) braved freezing temperatures after midnight Monday to help New York City with its annual count of the numbers of homeless living on the streets, and offer to take them to shelters.
Since 2008 the graduate school has participated in the count, which draws thousands of volunteers from throughout the boroughs to canvass parks, subways and other public spaces as part of the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE). Over 3,000 volunteers turned out for the federally-mandated survey.
“Homelessness is a complex, 300-year-old social problem. The approximately 60,000 people who sleep in city shelters each night and the 3,000 more who make their homes on subways and public thoroughfares are the most vulnerable members of society,” said Professor Elhanan Marvit, MSW, director of administrative services at the GSSW, who leads the graduate school’s team every year on the HOPE count.
He continued: “Homelessness stems from a confluence of multiple factors, social structures and community circumstances. This annual count is critical to helping overcome homelessness, and is aligned with Touro’s mission – which is to train clinical social work practitioners to help individuals, families and communities meet their needs and enhance well-being.”
Georgia Van Cooten, a GSSW student on the count Monday for the second year in a row, said she encountered multiple homeless veterans and individuals and offered them transportation to a shelter or drop-in center, but many refused. She attributed the response to “past experiences of assault, unhealthy conditions and an overall sense of fear surrounding the city’s shelter system.”
In spite of the cold, Ms. Van Cooten said she’d like to participate again next year as an alumna, “remembering how great it was to be surrounded by alumni during my first year, able to see how it’s done and realize that it’s not just a survey filled with questions but a conversation between people living in a city plagued with homelessness.”
The City announced that to help boost the efficiency and productivity of HOPE this year, the count piloted a new HOPE mobile app, allowing one team in each borough to use GPS-powered maps of their assigned routes and submit digital questionnaires. The digital capabilities, the City said, would increase efficiency, accuracy and accountability in the data collection process, as well as improve analytic efforts.
Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions.
Touro College has branch campuses, locations and instructional sites in the New York area, as well as branch campuses and programs in Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College, Touro University California and its Nevada branch campus, as well as Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. #