Mayor Baraka speaks at International Homelessness Conference in Paris

Mayor Ras J. Baraka and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, Luis Ulerio, attended a two-day international conference of worldwide mayors and municipal leaders to create solutions to the global homelessness crisis, in Paris.

The conference, organized by Paris Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, is a partnership with the European Federation of National Organizations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), the National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH), the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH), and Bloomberg Associates. Between 100 and 150 participants, mostly mayors and elected officials from around the world, attended.

“The groundbreaking measures and strategy we began a year-and-a-half ago in Newark, entitled ‘The Path Home,’ to end homelessness in three years have resulted in us reducing street homelessness by 57.6 percent. While this is a considerable achievement, it also reminds us how far we have to go. Decent housing is not a privilege for human beings; it is a right, whether in Newark or Paris. We must unite, as this conference has told us, to ‘leave no one behind,’” Mayor Baraka said. “We are honored, as the smallest city represented at this conference, to be recognized for our humanitarian approach and strategic agency.”

The conference hosted local elected officials and specialized organizations and highlighted the common challenges that cities face in dealing with the growing number of homeless residents. These conversations are especially important amid the growth in migration and while policies conducted at different levels (local, national, and international) are still poorly integrated.

“It is important that cities take advantage of opportunities to discuss the pressing challenge of homelessness, develop solutions and share lessons learned,” said Linda Gibbs, Principal at Bloomberg Associates, a part of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and a former New York City Deputy Mayor for Human Services under Mayor Bloomberg. “Newark Mayor Ras Baraka has been a leader in the fight to end chronic homelessness. Newark has made great progress in reducing its number of homless people and by doing so has shown other city leaders that it is not an impossible task.”

Cities are currently under considerable pressure to address the homeless population’s needs, and the arrival of people seeking shelter and refuge, which poses a major challenge to them.

The meeting provided an opportunity to share best practices and innovative approaches developed by cities at a local level to facilitate the reception and integration of these people.

Mayor Baraka served as a member on a panel discussion entitled “Migration: Mayors Working to Meet the Challenges of Reception,” with Mayor Hidalgo; Bogotá Mayor Carlos Fernando Galan Pachon; Dakar, Senegal, Deputy Mayor Fambaye Ndoye; and Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas.