De Blasio Turns Corner to Move Street Homeless Into Homes

(THE CITY) December 26, 2019

The city will create 2,000 apartments and beds in informal shelters in a bid to end chronic street homelessness in five years, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

The commitment to giving housing to people coming in straight off the street marks a change of course for the mayor in tackling the challenge of people living on sidewalks and in subways — nearly 3,600 at last count.

Meanwhile, city shelters are bulging with more than 60,000 people.

The announcement came as winter approached and a little over two months after four homeless men were beaten to death as they slept on the streets of Chinatown. The killings underscored the dangers facing vulnerable homeless people too afraid or unwilling to stay in city shelters.

“What we’re saying is, the people that we have known year after year to be in need, who have been out there, in some cases effectively permanently, no end in sight, we now know we can get those people in. We’re going to focus on them,” de Blasio said at Judson Church in Greenwich Village, surrounded by religious leaders and administration personnel.

The mayor said the new plan, which will be funded by taxpayers, will cost about $100 million in the coming fiscal year — bringing the city’s annual tab for street homelessness programs to $240 million, according to Department of Social Services officials.

From Street to Home

De Blasio said private developers and nonprofits will create 1,000 units of permanent housing — with medical, mental health and other supports — that will for the first time allow the homeless to quickly go from the street directly to an apartment.

People living on the street currently endure a lengthy evaluation and application process to get into supportive housing and other permanent placements. They also have to prove they’ve been on the streets for a set amount of time to secure a bed in an informal shelter, known as a safe haven.