From the city with a heart, via the Times Union:
No child is supposed to sleep on the street in New York. The city is unique among major cities in that it has guaranteed — by consent decree and later court orders — shelter to every homeless person or family.
But on a recent cold and rainy night, Cristal, Rocheleet and Bryan Garcia, ages 13, 16, and 17, splayed out on a sidewalk across the street from a city office that is supposed to help people find a place to spend the night.
City officials have declared them ineligible for shelter, asserting that they are not really homeless and they have relatives in Puerto Rico with whom they could stay. And because of a new city policy, social workers also denied the family emergency one-night shelter…
“If the family is found ineligible for shelter because they have another housing option, what we say to that family is, ‘Look, go home,’ ” said Robert Hess, the commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services.
Go home, Cristal, Rocheleet and Bryan. Stop messing up the Big Apple’s statistics. They want the numbers of homeless down. Down they will go. So go on home. Take the subway. To Puerto Rico. Only 1,600 miles away. Lotsa time to sleep.
Advocates say the city… makes too many mistakes. Steven Banks, a lead attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said that in 2006, 51.8 percent of all families deemed ineligible subsequently were found eligible.