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Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan That Will End Long-Term Street Homelessness in New York City

December 17, 2019

Historic, first-in-the-nation plan triples down on successful street outreach strategies and adds more new housing, new health and mental health services and interagency coordination

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration today announced its first-in-the nation, 6- Point Action Plan to end long-term street homelessness in New York City over the next five years. The plan will increase 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.

“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.”

Current strategies have helped more than 2,450 individuals off the streets and into transitional and permanent settings since the launch of HOME-STAT in April 2016.

By marshaling new and critical resources, the first-in-the-nation six-point Action Plan, unveiled today will:

  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 ou
    treach technology to better connect clients to the services they need to transition into housing 
  6. Expand Diversion and Outreach in our subway system

Create Paths to Permanency Through New Housing Resources

Through this Action Plan, the City will expand the number of beds designed to support New Yorkers who’ve lived on the streets with specialized services. These 1,000 new ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ will increase the total number of beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals by 64 percent citywide to 2,800. Today, there are approximately 1,800 such beds available across the five boroughs—triple the number available in 2014.

To address urgent housing needs, the City will also create 1,000 permanent housing units for New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness, working in collaboration with housing and social services nonprofit providers. In partnership with HPD, the City will work to identify privately-owned properties throughout the City with a large share of vacancies that can be converted into safe, secure permanent housing. These new units could be immediately occupied by eligible households, including some who are formerly unsheltered individuals.

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.

Provide Coordinated Medical and Behavioral Health Care

To strengthen the provision of medical and behavioral health care directly to unsheltered New Yorkers where they are, the City will expand the Street Medicine approach developed by HOME-STAT outreach providers to all five boroughs, delivering rapid response care on the streets and in the subways with services such as: risk assessments, wound care, referrals to medical and mental health providers, medication assistance, administration of antibiotics and blood pressure and diabetes screening. Currently, the Street Medicine program operates in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The City will also work across Agencies, bringing all relevant experience and expertise to the table, to ensure unsheltered New Yorkers with the most serious mental health challenges are closely connected to care, referred to care coordination, and/or engaged by mobile treatment teams, which provide psychosocial and psychiatric assessment, medication management, care coordination, peer support, and housing placement assistance to people where they are. Additionally, teams offer specialized treatment interventions for trauma and substance use, taking a harm reduction approach.

NYC Health + Hospitals participates in interagency coordination meetings to ensure smooth transition between homeless outreach, removal to the hospital for emergency services, and discharge back to the community. Further, there will be hospital coordination with DHS to improve discharge planning for patients returning to shelter. The NYC Health + Hospital Central Office will coordinate with city agency partners, outreach teams, and hospitals to ensure ongoing communication.​

ICYMI: Status Updates on City’s New Approaches

Street Homelessness Joint Command Center

DHS and NYPD lead a 24/7/365 Street Homelessness Joint Command Center that conducts interagency rapid outreach deployment from a central location using precision mapping, client information, and rapid response to incoming notifications.

To address the most challenging cases of unsheltered homelessness involving high-needs clients—who often face the most significant, overlapping needs, including mental health and substance misuse—the Joint Command Center also develops tailored interventions on a case-by-case basis to work towards a breakthrough to encourage these individuals to finally accept services and transition off the streets and out of the subways. Individual plans are created in close collaboration with partners including DOHMH, H+H, FDNY Emergency Medical Services, and contracted outreach providers

DiversionThe Subway Diversion Project is a citywide initiative reforming Police Officers’ approach to engaging and offering services to unsheltered New Yorkers underground, with a focus on diverting individuals from the criminal justice system towards outreach services and supportive programs.  Participants who opt into the program complete an assessment with an outreach team, receive a referral to shelter and/or other services, and have their summonses cleared, ultimately diverting them towards shelter away from unnecessary formal court processes and helping more people come inside and out of the subways. The City is expanding the program across Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens

Unprecedented Investments Show Progress – 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. Today’s announcement of 1,000 new beds will ultimately increase the citywide total by 654 percent, to approximately 2,800 beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals and available to HOME-STAT outreach teams in their citywide outreach efforts.
  • Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve 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.  

“The de Blasio administration is rising to meet the moral challenge of street homelessness with a bold plan the likes of which our country has never seen,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “This action plan to end long-term street homelessness is rooted in lessons we have learned about the power of persistent outreach and coordinated care for the whole person wherever they are in their journey. We call on all New Yorkers to help us bring family members, friends and neighbors back home from the streets.”

“In 2017, we announced Turning the Tide, the most comprehensive plan to address sheltered and unsheltered homelessness in the nation. Today, in partnership with our City Agency colleagues, faith leaders, and compassionate New Yorkers across the five boroughs, we are going deeper and tripling down on a key component of that plan: our efforts to address unsheltered homelessness. Building on the lessons we’ve learned and successes we’ve achieved over the past there years in bringing more than 2,450 people off the streets and out of the subways, we’re now prepared to go further, dedicating an unprecedented amount of housing resources and social services to individuals experiencing long-term unsheltered homelessness,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “With 1,000 new Safe Haven beds, 1,000 new low-barrier permanent housing apartments, expanded evidence-based healthcare care models, enhanced technology, and strengthened collaboration with Agency partners, all of which will help our HOME-STAT teams further target their outreach and meet people where they are, we are confident we can find pathways to stability for all New Yorkers experiencing long-term unsheltered homelessness and end this crisis that too many experience in our City.”

“Homelessness takes a toll on people’s health in so many ways, including making it more difficult to manage conditions like diabetes, mental illness and HIV,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Bringing services to the street, and people into homes, will improve New Yorkers’ lives and make our City a healthier place.”

“As the leading provider of behavioral health services in the city, NYC Health + Hospitals is committed to providing the best care for its patients at our facilities and through the coordination of other city agencies such as the Department of Homeless Services and the street outreach teams,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “This coordinated approach will ensure that our patients receive the care they need, and that our health care providers have the best information on hand at intake.”

“Improving public safety and helping unsheltered New Yorkers requires a comprehensive, multi-agency response,” said NYPD Chief of Transit Edward Delatorre. “Taken together, our efforts reinforce the NYPD’s core philosophy of Neighborhood Policing by connecting some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers with the services they need.”

“This Administration has made historic investments to support New Yorkers who have fallen through every social safety net—tripling the number of outreach staff, tripling the number of dedicated beds for New Yorkers experiencing unsheltered homelessness, and helping more than 2,450 of those New Yorkers into safe, stable housing,” said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. "Today’s Six Point Action Plan will help us accelerate our progress and achieve goals by expanding the tools available to HOME-STAT outreach teams in their efforts to engage and encourage New Yorkers in need to accept services. As HOME-STAT outreach teams work around the clock to build trust with each and every individual in need, we know that every New Yorker who accepts services and comes indoors represents an individual victory and life changed for the better.”

"In a city where a billionaire can afford a $240 million penthouse, no one should be forced to sleep on the street,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “New York City is in the midst of a housing affordability crisis, which is why I was proud to help pass historic tenant reforms in the New York State Senate. For those who still cannot afford housing, we have a responsibility as a city to provide care and resources. That's why I'm pleased to see Mayor de Blasio releasing a 6-point Action Plan to end long-term street homelessness."

“Over the past decade we’ve all witnessed the devastating reality of increasing homelessness across New York City, and the cyclical effects of systemic disadvantages for struggling communities and individual,” said State Senator Luis Sepúlveda. “The Bronx and all of NYC have been hit hard with the homelessness crisis, so I commend the Mayor and his team for their innovative efforts to invest in our communities by providing more holistic services to people facing housing insecurity and other inter-related challenges. Investments in housing and mental health for those in need can result in sustainable benefits for all.”

"Delivering permanent housing is the key to ending homelessness in NYC, and this plan aims to achieve exactly that," said Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. "Housing insecurity is a stark reality for many New Yorkers. I am pleased that the administration is taking it head on by, among other efforts, increasing homeless outreach resources and employing the latest technology to ensure that all NYC residents are contacted. While there is still much work ahead of us, this 6-Point Action Plan represents a significant step forward in the fight to end the housing crisis."

"To get palpable progress fighting our City's current homelessness crisis, it's going to take a bold and innovative plan," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Although we all wish we could end homelessness right now, a five-year plan that doubles down on some of the strategies that have been working paired with new ideas and new efforts will make an impact at decreasing the number of long-term homeless men and women on our streets. I commend Mayor de Blasio for recommitting our City's resources and efforts to this cause." 

"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 Council General Welfare Chair Stephen Levin. "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."

“The city has a responsibility to shelter individuals and to work collectively to ensure all New Yorkers have a place to stay where they feel safe and welcome. I thank the Mayor for offering solutions to address street homelessness, said Council Member Keith Powers

“No New Yorker should ever be without access to safe, quality housing,” said Council Member Antonio 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.”

“Increasing the availability of safe spaces for street homeless individuals is a critical need for the thousands of people sleeping on the streets each night,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “I am pleased to see that the administration is taking the initiative under the six-point action plan to increase the number of safe haven beds and permanent housing for the homeless. Along with the implementation of an increase in homeless set asides in new residential development, I look forward to working with the administration to ensure that the city’s most vulnerable receive the appropriate shelter they deserve.’

"Though the monstrous crisis of chronic homelessness seems to defy every effort to tame it; the mayor must be commended for his consistency in implementing initiatives to confronting this crisis that impact the lives of New Yorkers on all levels of life. This latest initiative is another clear expression of the mayor's commitment,” said Bishop Earl McKay, The Bronx Church of God of Prophecy.

"I support the Mayor's plan, with every confidence that the  locations of borough-based facilities will be equitably placed, reflective of community input and  concerns of overly-saturated neighborhoods, and  necessary investments in and for the residents of impacted areas,” said Rev. Dr Fred Lucas, Senior Pastor, Brooklyn Community Church.

“As a Christian, I believe this initiative is one of Mayor de Blasio's that is in line with the Christian ethic of caring for the  least of these" the oftentimes forgotten,” said Pastor Abraham Jules, MDiv, The Community Worship Center.

“It is a credit to the Mayor who continue to address the Homelessness in our city. This overwhelming issue needs leadership and the support of our community. Congratulations,” said  Rev. Clive Neal MDiv, Bedford Central Presbyterian.

"I am grateful for this step towards addressing a critical need for the men, women and children who are without permanent shelter; yet my hope is that we consider this as one of many responses to a humanitarian crisis that God is calling us to resolve so that God's people are prioritized over personal profits," said Rev. Brian Ellis Gibbs, Queens Baptist Church.

"A society that does not make room for all its members cannot claimed itself as advance, sophisticated or successful. We are as good as the least among us are able survive and have a real chance to rise up and succeed,” said Pastor Warner A. Richards, PsyD. Senior pastor Hanson Place SDA Church.

Offering shelter and safe haven to the homeless is a central ethical mandate of the faith community. This Action Plan turns this prophetic call into public policy, addressing in an important way the city's homelessness crisis,” said Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition.

"I applauded our Mayor and this administration addressing this problem of homelessness that has been plaguing our city for years. Because of this new initiative thousands of homeless individuals will be in safer and more conducive environment,” said Rev. Dr. Phil Craig, Pastor of the Greater Springfield Community Church and President of National Action Network, Queens Chapter.

“Anything being done to help the "homeless" (or, as I define it, the residentially challenged) is like music to my ears. Our city lags behind other cities in terms of our care for which. This is just one step in the right direction. A lot more needs to be done. I commend any and all efforts to alleviate which. Thanks much,” said Pastor Dr. Allen K. Hand, Sr.

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