NEW YORK (WABC) --Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled a new borough-based plan to reduce the footprint of New York City's homeless shelter system and drive down the population of homeless New Yorkers relying on shelters.
De Blasio outlined the timing and logistics of his plan to end the use of 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities, replacing the sites with 90 traditional shelters distributed across the five boroughs. He said the new network will be able to more effectively house the homeless near the communities, jobs, school, houses of worship and support systems needed to help them get back on track.
"Today, we turn the page by launching a new, 21st century response to the 21st century reality of homelessness," de Blasio said. "For years, too many families have struggled against rising rents to stay in the homes and communities they love.
The announcement builds on reforms underway as a result of the mayor's 90-day review of homeless services, which comprehensively examined city homeless policies for the first time in decades. The review, which included focus groups and feedback from both nonprofit service providers and homeless New Yorkers, produced 46 critical reforms now underway to increase prevention, address street homelessness, improve shelter conditions and strengthen supports to help homeless New Yorkers transition from shelter to permanent housing.
"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," he said. "It will take a united effort and the help of many New Yorkers, but together will turn the tide of homelessness."
In response, the Coalition for the Homeless released the following statement from Policy Director Giselle Routhier:
"We applaud Mayor de Blasio's announcement that the City will finally strive to live up to its legal and moral obligation to provide decent shelter to all homeless New Yorkers and will address decades of neglect and mismanagement of the shelter system. Well-designed and properly-staffed shelters located in the same communities as the displaced families themselves would be a tremendous improvement over the current system that relies far too much on expensive and inappropriate cluster sites and hotels.
"More important than improving the quality of shelters is reducing the need for them. What New Yorkers need from the Mayor is a bold and comprehensive plan to tackle our homelessness crisis by providing access to truly affordable housing and by better utilizing federal resources like public housing and Section 8. Mayor de Blasio could immediately and dramatically reduce the number of homeless families by simply increasing the number of NYCHA units for families in shelters from 1,500 a year to 3,000."