De Blasio Unveils Plan to End Long-Term Street Homelessness

The de Blasio Administration today announced an ambitious 6- Point Action Plan to get the roughly 3,600 people living on the streets and in the subways into shelters and homes within the next five years.

The plan calls for an increase in housing, mental health and medical services for unsheltered individuals, and enhance outreach resources to deliver more urgent and rapid responses to unsheltered individuals in need.

Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Homeless New Yorkers are just like us—they deserve our love and compassion and a commitment to go as far as we can to help,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “So here’s our promise: we will help every last person experiencing long-term homelessness off our streets and we will do more than we ever thought possible to bring them home.”

The six-point Action Plan is as follows:

  1. Increase Safe Haven capacity by opening 1,000 new Safe Haven beds
  2. Create 1,000 new low-barrier permanent apartments by working with partners across the housing and social services sectors
  3. Deliver new health resources to people where they are, providing treatment through street medical care and behavioral health care, and build the trust needed for clients to come inside
  4. Provide coordinated rapid outreach response through the Street Homelessness Joint Command Center
  5. Leverage state-of-the-art outreach technology to better connect clients to the services they need to transition into housing
  6. Expand Diversion and Outreach in our subway system

The plan will also improve access to rental assistance for unsheltered individuals, and make it clear that a shelter stay is not a requirement for unsheltered individuals working with outreach teams to qualify for rental assistance. For unsheltered individuals who do choose to utilize rental assistance, the City will work to expedite rehousing placements. Additionally, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) will enhance the supportive housing placement process, including through the launch of a new eligibility and tracking database system during 2020.

According to today’s announcement, since 2014, the City has redoubled outreach efforts, dedicating unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers:

  • Quintupling the City’s investment in street homeless programs, increasing from approximately $45M in 2013 to more than $240M
  • Tripling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from fewer than 200 to more than 550, with those dedicated staff canvassing the streets every day, building relationships over weeks and months through regular contact and concerted engagement with homeless New Yorkers focused on encouraging them to accept services and transition off the streets.
  • More than quadrupling the number of emergency ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ beds dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, bringing the total up from 600 to more than 1,800 today, and hundreds more set to open in the coming years.
  • Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve the delivery of services, with outreach teams now knowing approximately 1,300 street homeless individuals by name and actively engaging another 2,400 individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless.
  • Increasing joint outreach operations to engage more New Yorkers and offer more supports, including expanding joint outreach operations with partner agencies such as DOHMH, Parks Department, Department of Sanitation, NYPD, and the MTA to address conditions as they occur and provide alternative pathways to permanence.
City Councilman Stephen Levin
Antonio Reynoso
City Council Member Antonio Reynoso

Among those lauding the new initiative included Brooklyn City Council Members Stephen Levin (D-Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, Williamsburg) and Antonio Reynoso (D-Williamsburg, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Queens).

“I applaud the administration’s commitment to new housing resources for street homeless New Yorkers. We know that the homelessness crisis is a crisis of housing and we need much deeper investment in permanent housing options and safe havens,” said Levin, chair of the General Welfare Committee. “The addition of 1,000 new Safe Haven beds and 1,000 new low-barrier permanent apartments will make a real difference in the lives of our unsheltered neighbors looking to get back on their feet. I look forward to working with the administration along with housing and nonprofit providers to connect unsheltered New Yorkers to the support and housing resources they deserve.”

“No New Yorker should ever be without access to safe, quality housing,” said Reynoso. “New York City must do more to tackle our mounting homelessness crisis. The de Blasio Administration’s new 6-Point Action Plan is a promising sign that New York City is on the right path towards offering shelter and resources to those who currently do not have a place to call home while working to address the root causes of homelessness. I will continue to advocate for more permanent, deeply affordable housing and support services for our neediest populations.”

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