Homeless Homos Get Helping Hand

A faithful reader just sent us a press release from the kids over at Queers for Economic Justice celebrating the NYC Department of Homeless Services new pro-domestic parntership stance. The release reads:

As of February 1st, homeless couples who have registered with the City Clerk as domestic partners will be sheltered as families in the same way as married couples. This policy will apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. So a homeless domestic partner couple who seeks shelter need only present their domestic partnership certificate in order to be considered a family by DHS for the purpose of securing shelter. In addition, the new policy grants “family status” to homeless adults who have other family relationships (e.g., grandparent and grandson/daughter, or siblings) who have resided together for six of the previous 12 months, and to street homeless couples who are assisted by an outreach worker.

This is good news, of course – homelessness remains one of nation’s biggest and unspoken problems. We’re astonished the DHS discriminated in the first place – isn’t it their job to find everyone a home? Although, we don’t mean to be callous, but if our asses were on the street, we’d probably ditch our family if we had to. But, then again, we’re heartless fucks.

Complete release, after the jump…

Queers for Economic Justice is pleased to announce that due to the hard work of many community members and organizations, and the support of the New York City Council, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has finally changed its domestic partner policy.

DHS will no longer continue to discriminate against domestic partners seeking family shelter. Domestic partners will no longer have to provide extra documentation (burdensome proof which is not required of married couples), in order to be sheltered together as a family.

As of February 1st, homeless couples who have registered with the City Clerk as domestic partners will be sheltered as families in the same way as married couples. This policy will apply to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. So a homeless domestic partner couple who seeks shelter need only present their domestic partnership certificate in order to be considered a family by DHS for the purpose of securing shelter. In addition, the new policy grants “family status” to homeless adults who have other family relationships (e.g., grandparent and grandson/daughter, or siblings) who have resided together for six of the previous 12 months, and to street homeless couples who are assisted by an outreach worker.

Currently this is a six-month pilot program, but it is our hope and expectation that this policy will be made permanent at the end of the trial period. During this time, we will need to monitor how the pilot program is going. In particular, we want to pay attention to couples who cannot get domestic partnership certificates, to make sure that they will still have available to them the options that existed before this pilot program.

This victory came after over two years of hard work by Queers for Economic Justice, working hand-in-hand with a coalition consisting of QEJ Network members, the Coalition for the Homeless, the LGBT Community Center and the Peter Cicchino Youth Project.

QEJ would like to thank all those individuals and organizations who supported us over the these two years, and those that worked hard during the holiday season to put pressure on DHS to change this unfair policy.

A special thanks goes out to other QEJ Network members — the Ali Forney Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Bronx Community Pride Center, Bronx Defenders, Empire State Pride Agenda, FIERCE!, Gay Men of African Descent, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Greater Voices coalition, Hetrick Martin Institute, Interfaith Taskforce on LGBTQ Homeless Youth, Lambda Legal, LeGAL, New York City AIDS Housing Network, Planned Parenthood, Pride At Work, Queens Pride House, SAGE/Queens, Street Work, Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Sylvia’s Place. These groups worked with our coalition over the past two years, and/or attended the December press conference (organized by the LGBT Community Center) and helped collect signatures.

In addition, thanks to all of the thousands of people who collected signatures, signed postcards, forwarded the email or signed the petition online. It was because of this community collaboration that we won the victory.

New York City Council Speaker Quinn and the City Council were also instrumental in changing this policy, and have also committed to making sure that this type of policy does not get written again in any social service agency. Thank you to Speaker Quinn and to City Council for their continued support for equal treatment for domestic partners by all agencies in this city.