New York City outlined a multi-faceted plan yesterday to reduce homelessness, help transition homeless families from shelter into permanent housing, and improve shelter conditions. Together, in collaboration with agencies like the Human Resources Administration, the steps are designed to help New York City reduce the number of families facing homelessness.
The four part plan includes steps to increase homelessness prevention efforts; proposes creation of two rent subsidy programs; utilizes targeted supportive housing for high needs populations; and reaffirms the administration's commitment "to assess, improve and reimagine shelter models."
"New Yorkers deserve action in the face of this unprecedented homelessness crisis. And that's what this plan delivers," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. "These are proven, compassionate and fiscally-responsible solutions. We have laid out a blueprint based on the fundamental knowledge that helping families avoid homelessness and moving families from shelter to permanent housing represent far better outcomes for both vulnerable New Yorkers and taxpayers than continuing an unacceptable status quo."
“This plan charts a bold, new course for homelessness in New York City, and the Mayor’s budget clearly invests in better outcomes for homeless households with a goal of homelessness prevention, independence, and permanent housing,” said Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor.
The four part plan includes the following:
Increase Homelessness Prevention Services
Expand Evidence-based Homebase Prevention Program, adding at least nine additional sites to serve 5,000 more families. Homebase is a five-borough network of neighborhood-based services that has been proven to help individuals at risk of homelessness remain in their communities and avoid entering shelters. Homebase currently operates out of 14 locations in neighborhoods with high shelter entry rates and serves over 10, 000 households annually.
Expand the Family Eviction Prevention Program, FEPS: The City, through HRA, will work with the State to explore expansion of seek State approval to expand the FEPS program. FEPS provides families assistance with paying back-due rent and/or provides an ongoing monthly rental subsidy for families with children under age 18.
Consolidate Anti-Eviction Prevention Programs: $15.1M administered by various city agencies will be consolidated at HRA to provide more targeted and effective use of resources to 6,400 DHS clients.
Create a Public Awareness Campaign for Homebase: DHS will invest $870,000 to launch a Homebase homelessness prevention public awareness campaign that is designed to target those households most at risk of entering the shelter system. The campaign will include bus, subway, and check cashing ads as well as a PSA on local cable TV.
Increase Resources To Help Homeless Families Transition to Permanent Housing
Working Families Rental Assistance Program: Provide 801 families annually (3,204 in total) with a 3 year subsidy, with an option to renew for up to 5 years.
Create Vulnerable Populations Rental Assistance Pilot Funded by a Cluster Rate Reduction: Reinvest shelter savings in permanent housing resources for vulnerable homeless families.
Target Supportive Housing for High Needs Population
Increase supportive housing: The city will continue its commitment to finish out the NY/NY III agreement, which will create 9,000 units serving people who are at risk of becoming homeless or already homeless and suffer severe mental illnesses, and work with the State to identify new supportive housing opportunities. In addition, the City will seek to further expand the production of supportive housing.
Assess, Improve and Re-Imagine City Shelters
Interagency Task Force: Convene the first Interagency Task Force on Homelessness to address the needs of and leverage resources for multi-system involved individuals and families. The first meeting will be held this summer.
Cluster Unit Reviews: DHS is conducting on-site reviews of all cluster units; sweeping inspections of its 3,000+ clusters units within the system to review health and safety conditions for each unit.
Shelter-Specific Changes including the transition of families with children at Auburn and Catherine Street shelters.
The new plan drew praise from advocates and providers.
“Today’s announcement signals a sea change in how New York City deals with homelessness,” said Mary Brosnahan, President & CEO, Coalition for the Homeless. “The Mayor is charting a new, far more constructive strategy to deal with the record homelessness crisis he inherited. These are critical pieces of comprehensive plan that must be scaled to match the unprecedented the magnitude of this problem.”
“The blight of homelessness causes suffering to far too many New Yorkers,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. " It is unacceptable. With today’s announcement, the Mayor has taken an important and necessary step in addressing this crisis."
“Taken together, a combination of expanded homelessness prevention and anti-eviction services on the front end to help families remain in their own homes, and rental assistance and access to permanent housing on the back end to help families secure and maintain affordable permanent housing, creates the very real possibility of reducing the number of homeless individuals and families,” said Gail B. Nayowith, Executive Director, SCO Family of Services.
“Mayor de Blasio is following words with action when it comes to his administration’s commitment to addressing record homelessness in our City,” said Sean Barry, Executive Director, Vocal-NY.