Offering a hand up instead of a hand out, BRC effectively assists the unsheltered to come in and find shelter - 24/7/365 - on terms our clients can accept.
Living unsheltered, on the streets and subways, in stations and parks, isn’t easy. It may seem hopeless, for our clients, and to us all; but it’s not. With over 100 staff outfitted in bright orange uniforms, driving orange and white vans, BRC is connecting with thousands of unsheltered New Yorkers, in the City and beyond, around the clock. The impact: over 3,300 placements into appropriate living situations last year…almost 10 times a day. And while not everyone succeeds on the first attempt, many do, and many more do after a few attempts. Bottom line: we never stop trying; and when we believe in our clients, they begin to believe in themselves.
How We Work
The people we meet are poor, ill, scared, and reluctant to trust others. They are also resilient and resourceful. While they may not be thriving, they are surviving. So BRC outreach workers have a challenging job convincing these men and women to let us help them. We succeed by listening, and motivating. We communicate with love and respect, looking beyond the surface to find the person hiding underneath the fear, and the layers of clothes and accoutrements of a life unsheltered. We offer help, but we don’t force. We leave people alone when they ask us to, in the hopes we send a message that we will also help when they ask us to. And we keep coming back, establishing a relationship and earning trust. We don’t “propose marriage” he first time we meet; we usually go on a lot of “dates” before we’re able to motivate a client to want to “move in with us”.
Where We Work
We have many partners. The City of New York, through the Department of Homeless Services, the State of New York, through the MTA, and Amtrak, all invest in our efforts. We are in the city subways 24 hours a day, each and every day, as well as at Penn Station and Grand Central, where we have offices and dedicated staff (at Penn at the foot of the escalator at 32nd and 7th, and at GCT on the lower concourse, next to the police substation). You may even see us at a Metro North or Long Island Railroad station north and east of the City. We’re also fortunate to partner with two of Manhattan’s business improvement districts (BIDs): the Downtown Alliance and the East Midtown Partnership, where we work with community and business leaders to help, not harass, people in need. And we are proud of collaboration with the NYPD, which received national recognition with a 2009 Mutual of America Community Partnership Award, from a selection committee that included the late human rights and social justice advocate, Elie Wiesel.
What You Can Do
New Yorkers know if you see something to say something. At BRC, we say if you see someone, you should call someone; and that someone is us. In addition to the City’s 311, which makes referrals to BRC, we operate our own 24-hour Homeless Helpline: 212.533.5151. So if you see someone who needs our help, call us. You’ll speak with a BRC outreach specialist, who will help you help us help the homeless.