By 2021, the city aims to reduce the number of people living in shelters by 2,500.
The figures might be difficult to comprehend, but consider this: in a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 men, women, and children sleep in homeless shelters. An additional 3,100 sleep on the streets and this equates to 1 in every 147 New York citizens being homeless. Because this is a travesty, the mayor of New York recently unveiled a new plan which intends to reduce the number of people in shelters by 2,500 within the next five years.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Tuesday that the city will replace the use of hotels and “cluster” shelters which are scattered around the city with 20 new shelters in 2017 and 20 more in 2018. These structures will be located closer to peoples’ own neighborhoods, that way they will be near the support systems offered by churches and family members.
By 2021, 90 new shelters will be constructed in five boroughs, informs a report released by the mayor’s office. The initiative also includes renovating and expanding 30 existing shelters. Mayor Blasio emphasized that progress will be “slow and incremental,” but is optimistic, nonetheless, that the goal can be accomplished. He told an audience of nonprofit service providers and community leaders:
“I hope and I believe it will be steady. If we sustain incremental progress, it will be the first time that’s happened in three-and-half decades, and that can open the door to something better up ahead.”
A media release by the Mayor’s office suggests that the plan will:
- Continue to implement an aggressive prevention-first strategy that keeps more people in their homes by making housing more affordable, stopping illegal evictions, and connecting New Yorkers who are struggling to resources that will help them stabilize their lives;
- Continue to actualize the 46 reforms identified throughout the 90-day review of homeless services, making long-needed operational and other reforms to better serve New Yorkers on the verge of homelessness and homeless New Yorkers in shelter;
- Completely eliminate the use of cluster apartment units by the end of 2021 and commercial hotel facilities by the end of 2023;
- Reduce the overall current number of shelter sites (which include hotels and cluster sites) by 45 percent;
- Keep homeless New Yorkers closer to their communities and supports that they need;
- The City will eliminate the use of 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities and replace them with approximately 90 new shelter facilities and 30 expanded existing sites;
- The City estimates opening about 20 new shelters annually over the next five years, which will require a combination of building new locations and renovating existing buildings.
This project will be tacked onto the previously implemented HOME-STAT initiative, which attempted to do something never accomplished before: meet people on the streets, get to know them and their stories, and slowly help them find stability and sanctuary before helping them rebuild their lives. So far, 387 outreach workers – which are mobilized throughout the city 24/7 – have been dispatched by the program; 690 homeless individuals were brought to NYC shelters in 2016 alone.
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