Mayor announces new plan to address homelessness
by Erica Finocchio
Mar 07, 2017 | 1557 views | 0 0 comments | 115 115 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a plan last Tuesday to address the problem of homelessness in New York City, which has been steadily worsening since 1994.

The 114-page proposal aims to eliminate the use of hotels as homeless shelters by the end of 2023, and the use of apartments by 2021.

The city currently uses 360 cluster sites and commercial hotels to house homeless families. Those will be replaced with 90 traditional shelters. The city said it will open 40 shelters this year, and expand another 30 next year.

According to the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), there are currently more than 60,000 homeless people in the shelter system. The mayor’s plan aims to reduce that number by 2,500 in the next five years.

“Our plan will continue to bring more people off the streets, reduce the number of shelter sites by almost half, while strengthening services and keeping homeless New Yorkers closer to the supports they need to help them get back on their feet,” de Blasio said.

The shelters will have health care and alcohol and substance abuse services.

Another aspect of the reform is community notification. Residents will be notified 30 days in advance before a permanent shelter is opened in the area. Community boards can also request public hearings.

In response to the mayor’s plan, lawmakers from the State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) proposed legislation they say would increase transparency around the placement of homeless shelters.

Their bill would require the mayor’s office to give 45 days of notice for permanent shelters and one-week notice for the use of commercial hotels. It would also require DHS to inspect the site to ensure it’s “safe and free of violations.”

The IDC proposal then asks DHS to write quarterly reports on homeless shelters and submit them to local elected officials.

“Mayor de Blasio has continuously failed to provide communities in New York City with adequate information on the placement of homeless shelters,” said State Senator Tony Avella. “Residents need to know what is going on in their neighborhoods and have a say in the process when they have concerns.”

State Senator Jose Peralta added that when hotel-to-shelter conversions began happening in his Queens district, he urged the mayor and DHS to implement a notification process for affected communities.

“Under the mayor’s new plan to combat the homelessness crisis, he again ignores common sense proposals, offering only vague notions of engaging communities and their elected officials,” Peralta said. “This is inadequate. The concerns of my constituents have been continuously neglected by the administration.”
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