Needs Assessment Committee Meeting November 9th, 2023

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Members Present: Emma Kaywin (Co-chair), Marcy Thompson (Co-chair), Graham Harriman (Governmental – chair), John Schoepp, Steven Wilcox, Freddy Molano, Marcy Sedlacek, David Martin, Arthur Fitting, Fay Barrett, Billy Fields, Beth Hribar, Raffi Babakhanian, Reginald Brown, Jennifer Irwin, Vanessa Decamps, Rasheed Ford, Reginald Brown, Alan Peralta, Mayra Gilborn, Maria Rodriques, Claire Simon, Beth Hbirar

DOHMH, PHS, NYS, CHAIN and Other Staff Present: Doienne Saab, Kimbirly Mack, Connor Reynolds, Adrianna Eppinger-Meiering, Maiko Yomogida, Amanda Lugg, Prima Manandhar-Sasaki, Nadine Alexander, Kaylee Lamarche, Monika Pathak, Patrick Padgen, Max Hadler, Albert Medina, Christina Rodriguez, Lily Ha, Alberto Medina

Agenda Item #1: Welcome/Roll Call/Moment of Silence/Minutes:

Emma Kaywin and Marcy Thompson opened the meeting with a brief introduction of new and existing committee members, staff and guests. Raffi led the moment of silence. Marcy announced Graham Harriman’s departure as Governmental-Chair to the NY HIV Planning Council. The minutes of the July 13th meeting were approved with no changes.

Agenda Item #2: Emerging Issue – Immigrant/Asylum Seeker Communities of NYC  

2A. Context to Issue and Framing the Discussion Doienne Saab introduced one of the finalized topics to prioritize from the Epidemiology Profile section of the Needs Assessment completed in May 2023. One of the topics, included improving HIV outcomes for those born outside of the US, specifically immigrant and asylum seeker communities of NYC. The introduction was followed by presentations from Monika Pathak and Max Hadler of the NYC Health Department.  Monika Pathak (Sr. Policy Advisor – BHHS Policy and External Affairs) reported on the timeline of asylum seekers arriving in NYC from April 2022 to present day and the City’s response to providing housing and shelter. She also provided a timeline on recent local, state and federal policies to respond to the influx of newly arrived. Max Hadler (Dir. Of Policy and Immigrant Initiatives – Health Care Access and Policy Unit) reported on the federal border and immigration policy landscape, the current scope of the newly arrived, the supportive structures by NYC government and partners, and future consideration to meet the needs of new New Yorkers. He also discussed the various types of shelter and support sites and the connections to care, and system navigation being coordinated by the City’s agencies. The presentations were followed by a rich discussion between the subcommittee and our presenters. 2B. Coordinating Health Services The subcommittee discussed the importance of coordinating health services for migrants with a specific focus on STIs and HIV service referrals and screenings. Concern was expressed about the lack of initial health screenings for individuals entering the country. Several members suggested the need for a visual workflow to better understand the process one goes through when seeking assistance through the various City coordination sites for asylum seekers.  Doienne requested a map to track the path of someone seeking asylum or healthcare services. Monika agreed to help find a solution, while Max clarified that such a map does not currently exist in his office. Doienne agreed to start a draft on a workflow process map with the subcommittee’s feedback. The subcommittee recognized the involvement of multiple city agencies and considered collaborating with the New York Immigrant Coalition for a comprehensive view. Marcy proposed the formation of a subcommittee as a next step and highlighted the need for a document illustrating the current interactions between key stakeholders like DHS, HPD, and HHC. 2C. Costs and Funding There was an expressed interest in the daily or monthly-per person costs associated with housing migrants, which Max and Monika agreed to investigate. Beth Hribar noted that the Department of Homeless Services used to receive $3,000 a month per family in 2010. Max estimated that the influx of migrant cost to the City over the past three years is estimated at around 12 billion dollars, based on public reporting. Mayra Gilborn discussed the high cost of running the three sanctuary shelters for families being operated at privately owned hotels. She mentioned that the cost for these shelters is more than that of the regular family homeless system in NYS. Marcy highlighted the need for a more coordinated approach and questioned the best use of funding. 2E. Migrant Response Outside of NYC Doienne asked if there were any conversations between NYC and other Right to Shelter jurisdictions (outside of NYC) to coordinate efforts to offer the newly arrived with the option of settling elsewhere. Monika confirmed that there’s been some coordination with other counties within NYS, however no coordinated effort with out of state jurisdictions. Beth asked if there were any good models for managing the migrant crisis, and Max mentioned that refugee resettlement programs have good models that incorporate a lot of services. However, he noted that scaling these models for the size of the population of NYC and with urgency posed a challenge. Marcy asked about the process of completing applications for migrants and whether they are done electronically or with hard copies. 2F. Attitudes and Perceptions The subcommittee discussed the historical rhetoric of racist immigration policies and the need to address misconceptions about immigration to avoid perpetuating hate, stigma, and xenophobia among towards this community. Graham discussed the poor attitude of people in shelters and how it negatively impacts how sites are operated. He also mentioned that these City sites are often overstaffed, leaving many with nothing to do during work shifts. He suggested that the funding used to pay third-party staffing companies be used more efficiently to better meet the many and dire resources needed by migrants. The subcommittee also discussed the need for better communication and understanding of the situation. Graham mentioned that we should approach this issue from a position of compassion. Others agreed that this issue presented numerous opportunities and was a matter of human rights and social justice.  

Agenda Item #3: Public Comments and Announcements

There being no further discussion, the meeting was adjourned.