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PR- 157-04
June 23, 2004


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced plans to end chronic homelessness in New York City in five years.  The plan increases the City’s commitment to create supportive housing from 5,000 units to 12,000 units as part of a sweeping strategy to re-orientate the City’s response to homelessness.  It shifts the City’s emphasis from shelter to prevention, supportive housing, and other cost-effective solutions.  The Mayor announced that the plan, Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter’s, five-year goals are reducing street homelessness and the shelter population by two-thirds and eliminating chronic, or long-term, homelessness on City streets and in shelters. The Mayor made the announcement with Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Linda Gibbs before business, nonprofit, and public sector leaders at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY).

“Today we announced the City’s first-ever, cross-sector campaign to dramatically reduce the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in this, the world’s greatest City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “At its heart, this new plan aims to replace the City’s over-reliance on shelter with innovative, cost-effective interventions that solve homelessness – and to make visible headway in reducing homelessness on the streets and in shelters during the next five years. Today’s commitment to work with State and Federal partners to develop and fund 12,000 units of supportive housing will do much to overcome homelessness in New York City.”

Key initiatives from the Mayor’s plan include an expansion of community-based homelessness prevention programs, including a new initiative focused on preventing needless evictions at Housing Court; expanding permanent and transitional housing models for chronic street homeless individuals who today reject traditional shelter; increasing cross-agency case conferencing to prevent system-to-shelter discharges; and strategies to redirect funds now locked into shelters into prevention and other housing solutions. Within 60 days, targets, timeframes, and critical partners for each initiative will be posted on a new website, Routine progress reports around implementation will follow.

In addition, the Mayor announced plans to dramatically redesign the family intake and eligibility review process with an expansion of prevention and housing-related resources for at-risk and homeless families, improved eligibility determination making, and a new process in which families deemed ineligible for shelter no longer receive continuous shelter services. These new plans are consistent with recommendations released today by a court-appointed panel charged with evaluating the family intake and eligibility processes now at the Emergency Assistance Unit. The Mayor also announced a commitment to design a single new intake center that will reflect this new process.

“For too long, too many families applying for shelter have suffered an incoherent intake process patched together by 20 years of court orders and administrative policies,” said Commissioner Gibbs. “These recommendations offer a historic and holistic approach. They are sensible, responsible, and compassionate. If they are enacted in their totality, it’s our intent to replace the existing EAU with a building that better meets the needs of families applying for shelter.” 

“The successful collaboration between New York’s diverse sectors in creating Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter, has clarified the important role that the business community can and must play in the City’s effort to address homelessness,” said William C. Rudin, Chairman, Association for a Better New York.  “ABNY is proud to be a part of this proactive campaign to improve the quality of life in our great City.”
The planning process for Uniting for Solutions Beyond Shelter began in November 2003, when Mayor Bloomberg asked Association for a Better New York Chairman William C. Rudin, United Way of New York City’s Senior Vice President Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, and the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Peter Madonia to co-chair the process. A coordinating committee comprised of over 40 private, nonprofit, and public sector leaders, as well as task forces involving hundreds of experts, identified key themes and draft recommendations. Representatives of more than 125 organizations attended more than 50 planning meetings during this time.

“Over the past two and a half years, we have made great progress by launching the most aggressive affordable housing development program in decades and by helping record numbers of homeless people leave shelter for permanent housing,” concluded Mayor Bloomberg. “We are now building on that progress by announcing our intent to address homelessness at its core, rather than manage it at the margins.”


Edward Skyler/Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958


James Anderson   (DHS)
(212) 361-7971

More Resources
Read Homeless Policy Address
Watch press conference in 56k or 300k