New York City to double the amount of homeless drop-in centers

Monday, January 11, 2016

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Monday, the New York City announced that it will spend $8-million to double its number of homeless drop-in centers.

A homeless drop-in center on 30th Street close to 8th Avenue has no beds, but homeless New Yorkers can sleep a bit, eat there, take a shower, and even charge their phone.

"Drop-in centers are a proven strategy to help people come in off the streets," said Steve Banks, Social Services Commissioner.

The de Blasio administration has jump-started its homeless efforts with more outreach to get people off the street.

Last week, long-overdue repairs began at shelters.

And now there's the announcement of more drop-in centers. The one that Eyewitness News visited can accommodate 50 people.

"Nobody says they want to be homeless. And for the most part, this place right here does great things. I kid you not. Safe, safe environment. The food is great," said Storm Mason, homeless.

Drop-in centers are supposed to be gateways to shelters, or more permanent housing. It's the latest in the city's effort to make a dent in the homeless crisis.

"Citizens need to be protected and they need to be taken care of," said Dorothy Raines, a drop-in center neighbor.

"So you think it's a good thing they're expanding these centers?" Eyewitness News asked.

"It's got to, it has to," Raines said.

One woman told Eyewitness News she's glad the mayor's finally tackling the crisis.

Eyewitness News asked city officials if there's any push-back to keep the new centers out of certain neighborhoods, and they said, not yet.

"These are our brothers, our sisters, these are our parents, these are our children, they are our nieces and nephews. They are our neighbors," Banks said.

So far, Eyewitness News doesn't know exactly where these new drop-in centers will be built.

On average 454 clients go to drop-in centers every day.

The mayor's team has said the centers are not a permanent solution, but will help especially during the cold winter months.