Mi Casa es su Casa: A New Approach for unauthorized Noncitizens in New York City


As New York City faces the challenge of addressing the housing crisis for unauthorized noncitizens, it is crucial to explore alternatives that prioritize compassion, integration, and empowerment. While the recent use of school gyms, re-purposed prisons, and tent city’s under expressways may provide temporary relief, a more comprehensive and humane solution can be found by drawing inspiration from a tried and effective model; Charles Loring Brace’s foster care concept. Using this historical approach, we can create an environment that not only addresses the immediate housing needs but also fosters social integration, provides comprehensive support, and empowers unauthorized noncitizens to thrive.

The foster care model can serve as a valuable foundation for addressing the housing crisis faced by unauthorized noncitizens. Instead of utilizing school gyms, prisons, and tent city’s, we can recruit foster families, hereinafter Host Families, who are willing to open their homes to provide nurturing environments for individuals and families. This approach ensures a safe and stable housing solution while emphasizing the importance of compassion and support during uncertain times. Host Families can provide more personalized care, emotional support, and a sense of belonging that traditional institutional settings may lack.

Host Families will be supported by a Social Worker. In the role of case manager, the Social Worker will provide a range of resources, services, and programs to support unauthorized noncitizens. From language classes and legal aid to job training and cultural exchange opportunities, host families can empower individuals, promote social integration, and facilitate connections with the wider community.

Restructuring aspects of the foster care model creates a comprehensive support network that addresses the multifaceted needs of unauthorized noncitizens. Host Families, supported by Social Workers, can provide immediate housing stability, emotional support, and guidance. This integrated approach ensures that the unauthorized noncitizens housing crisis is not merely a short-term fix but an opportunity to foster long-term empowerment and integration within the community.

Implementing this alternative approach requires collaboration among governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, community leaders, and concerned citizens. The government can provide funding, regulatory support, and coordination efforts, while non profits offer their expertise and services. Engaging community leaders and concerned citizens will help ensure that this solution is embraced with empathy and support. Public-private partnerships can play a pivotal role in establishing this concept, enhancing their resources, and expanding their reach.

By embracing a compassionate and integrated approach, New York City can uphold the principles of human dignity and social cohesion. Rather than relying on temporary solutions that may perpetuate feelings of exclusion and isolation, this model emphasizes empathy, support, and integration. By providing stable housing, comprehensive support, and opportunities for personal growth, we can create an environment where unauthorized noncitizens are empowered to contribute to society and work towards legal pathways to citizenship, or permanency.

The unauthorized noncitizen situation in New York City calls for a fresh perspective that prioritizes compassion, integration, and empowerment. By drawing inspiration from past solutions toward immigrant integration, we can create a more humane and effective approach. Through the recruitment of Host Families we can provide stable housing, comprehensive support, and opportunities, including JOBS.

May 8, 2023 Laura Nahmias
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