Getting to the Heart
of the Problem
more than 36,000 of our fellow New Yorkers, including more
than 15,000 children, did not have the good fortune the rest
of us enjoyed. They didn’t wake up in their own
beds, in their own rooms. Instead, they began the day in City homeless shelters.
Thousands more men and women met the dawn on the streets of New York—because
that is where they live. Because New York is a compassionate city, over the
last 20 years, we’ve created the largest emergency shelter system in
the nation. And during the last City Fiscal Year, our Department of Homeless
Services moved a record 24,000 people out of shelters and into permanent homes.
That’s something we can be genuinely proud of. But we also have to recognize
a hard truth—and that is that for too long we’ve focused too much
on a crisis management approach to homelessness, and not enough on finding
is changing that. In June, we presented an action plan for effectively ending
chronic homelessness in New York City within five years. And we’ve already begun to make substantial
progress toward that goal. Recently, for example, we launched a homelessness
prevention initiative in six communities throughout the city where the threat
of homelessness hangs over too many families. Called “Home Base,” this
program will work to keep people in their homes, and out of City shelters,
by providing such services as landlord-tenant mediation, substance abuse counseling,
or help with drawing up and staying on a family budget. Because the simple
fact is that while everyone has a right to shelter, emergency shelter isn’t
always the right answer to every housing crisis. Keeping families in their
homes is usually a much better solution for everyone involved.
We’re also making major
headway toward our goal of dramatically increasing the city’s supply
of supportive housing, which provides on-site social services to people who
need help getting their lives back on track. Recently, Enterprise New York,
the local chapter of one of the nation’s largest supporters of low-income
housing, committed to underwriting development of 2,500 units of supportive
housing in our city. This will go a long way toward helping New Yorkers with
special needs, such as the mentally ill, homeless, and young people who are “aging
out” of the foster care system. Without such housing, too many of them
could wind up on our streets or stay indefinitely in shelters.
accountability are the hallmarks of our Administration. So starting in January,
post monthly updates on our progress on this issue at this web site: www.nyc.gov/endinghomelessness.
I have to tell you, I like the sound of that name—because we’re
going to do everything we can to end homelessness in New York City.#