Our Homelessness Crisis: The Case For Change

(NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL) February 2, 2020

Our Homeless Crisis: The Case For Change

Homelessness is a national problem that has reached a crisis level in New York City. If you live here, you encounter this reality every day. On the subway, on the street, at school, and at work, we interact with colleagues, friends, and neighbors who are experiencing, or are at risk of, homelessness. Everyone wants a safe home where they can rest their head at night, and everyone wants to experience the enormous possibilities of living in the greatest city in the world. But, for approximately 80,000 of our fellow New Yorkers, realizing those possibilities is complicated by the experience of homelessness.

We can no longer simply accept this reality. It requires urgent action. Unfortunately, our federal and state governments have failed to fulfill the roles they should play in alleviating poverty. While we must continue to raise our voices and advocate that they meet their responsibilities to all of us, we, as a City, must act.

We need to take immediate steps to provide appropriate services and supports that enable people to exit homeless shelters more quickly and easily, or avoid them in the first place. We need to equip all street outreach teams with the tools and flexibility to bring unsheltered individuals inside. We also need a long-term vision that shifts resources to permanent, affordable housing and reduces the number of people who are homeless.

Over the past year and a half, the City Council has engaged with a multitude of stakeholders and advocates. Their perspectives have been invaluable and have allowed us to develop the set of recommendations contained in this report. We want to thank each person who has shared their insights and experience with us. The development of this paper has been a team effort, and it is that kind of collaboration that is essential to moving this work forward.

Homeless Crisis: The Case For Change


Corey Johnson

Stephen Levin
Chair, General Welfare Committee