The Space at Tompkins’ Members
The Space at Tompkins works with transient, and often homeless, individuals in New York City’s East Village neighborhood.
Why are our members are not receiving consistent support:
Most city agencies are specialized and serve specific populations, and our members need a spectrum of support that does not exist at one single organization;
- Many of our members identify as “youth” but are over the age limits of youth-specific organizations, and they often feel out of place or uncomfortable at agencies tailored to adults;
- Our members are often targeted by law enforcement and they do not always feel confident approaching service providers and large government institutions;
- Our members are frequently unaware of what local services are available to them because they are often staying in unstable housing while traveling and are not originally from New York City.
How We Work
The Space at Tompkins’ Peer-Run Outreach
Who knows more about a community than the members in it? Our staff is as diverse as the people we serve, and half of us are currently members of the transient community. The only way to reach a marginalized population is by literally meeting people where they are at and offering the services that we can provide. We find that the most effective way to reach individuals is through consistent walkabout outreach that we conduct five days a week. Our outreach program is peer-run, and anyone who wants to chip in and distribute clean clothes, socks, food and healthcare supplies to the community, is welcomed to join.
We also link individuals to local services by escorting them to different organizations, doctors appointments and even emergency rooms, to ensure that they are taken care of and do not fall through the cracks. Our unique perspective as members of the transient community and our primary focus on peer-run walkabout outreach as a way to reach people, sets The Space apart from other area organizations.
The Space’s goals to provide support:
- Provide a radically welcoming community of support, and one that sincerely seeks to engage all who choose to take part in the community;
- Always work under the guidelines of harm reduction;
- Utilize mutual aid, the reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit, and encourage mutual aid amongst members in as many aspects of life as possible;
- Adopt resourceful strategies from the lives of our members to achieve a low ecological and financial footprint in New York City through saving resources including food, energy, and renewable materials
Our Current Work
The Space at Tompkins’ outreach team meets weekly in Tompkins Square Park to give out food, pet supplies, informational material and clothing when available. We are currently linking individuals to local services by escorting them to different organizations, doctors appointments and even emergency rooms, to ensure that they are taken care of and do not fall through the cracks.
Co-Founders Amy Long and Andréa Stella started The Space at Tompkins in October 2009. Amy, an NYU graduate and East Village resident, was aware of the different social issues facing the East Village community. Andréa, a Fordham graduate, worked at the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center as an outreach intern, and formed relationships with many of the participants. The two joined together, Amy with the understanding of the local community and Andréa with knowledge of the public health issues, to create a place for people in the transient homeless community to go.