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Homeless advocates target $5G goal for students’ laundry needs

Some schools have seen attendance rates improve once washers and dryers are available.

A campaign is raising money to distribute as

A campaign is raising money to distribute as laundry gift certificates in Hell's Kitchen. Photo Credit: iStock

Manhattanites are raising funds for laundry gift certificates, which they hope will help homeless students get into the spin this school year.

John Mudd, president of the Midtown South Community Council, and Josephine Ishmon, a member of Community Education Council 2, plan to push for more support, now that the academic year is underway. A GoFundMe launched by Mudd in May has gathered more than $3,000 toward its target of $5,000. The campaign distributes the money in $10 increments, which can be used at Clothespin Laundromat, located at 656 10th Ave. in Hell’s Kitchen.

“We’re seeing an increase in students in temporary housing citywide, particularly in areas where hotels are being used as shelters,” said Ishmon, who sits on the education advisory committee covering much of lower Manhattan. “Obviously, we want all these kids to come to school confident and avoid any type of stigmatization.”

Ishmon and Mudd met at an informational meeting on participatory budgeting last year, and began collaborating.

Ishmon has been working with nonprofits to distribute the gift certificates to families in hotels and shelters. As they are used, Mudd reimburses Boris Kogan, the owner of Clothespin Laundromat.

“I give them free soap,” Kogan said. “It’s not much, but it helps. If we can help the kids, I don’t have no problem.”

As of the 2016-2017 school year, the public school system enrolled about 105,000 homeless students, according to Amanda Ragnauth, senior policy analyst for the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness. She said that statistic does not include students in charter schools.

“Homeless students are more likely to be chronically absent,” Ragnauth said.

Across the nation, some communities have had success boosting homeless students’ attendance by installing washers and dryers in schools. A Detroit school saw absences drop 10 percent after a washer was installed, Chalkbeat reported.

Whirlpool launched an initiative to help bring washers and dryers to schools in 2015. Some 900 schools have reached out to the appliance company about participating in the Care Counts program, and so far, 58 have received equipment, according to Kelsey McGovern, a Whirlpool spokeswoman.

Locally, a few schools in District 2 have asked the city for washers and dryers, according to Ishmon.

The city Department of Education did not directly respond to questions about their requests.

“We understand the serious challenges facing our students in temporary housing, and work in close partnership across city agencies and with community-based organizations to support these students and their families, including making washers and dryers available when possible,” Miranda Barbot, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The city Department of Homeless Services looked into concerns about families in shelters having a difficult time doing laundry, and determined this was not an issue, according to its spokesman, Isaac McGinn.

“We take allegations like this very seriously and immediately followed up with the not-for-profit service providers that operate facilities in the area,” McGinn said in a statement. “While this allegation proved unfounded, we required providers to increase offerings of free laundry clinics and connect families to laundry services.”

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