New York City Council homeless agenda focuses on housing, prevention

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Homelessness in New York City is an ongoing crisis that City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wants to address and fix, and he unveiled a report Thursday called "Our Homelessness Crisis: The Case for Change" that includes nearly 90 recommendations aimed at preventing homelessness and increasing access to permanent housing.

Johnson said he believes that the city's focus has been on managing the crisis instead of creating solutions.

His plan includes feedback from more than 100 advocates and will prioritize permanent housing to prevent homelessness from occurring.

Among the recommendations are:

--A pilot program for families with children to target people earlier in the housing instability spectrum, saying earlier intervention is vital.

--More support for seniors at risk of homelessness.

--Establishing a council to address the barriers to supportive housing, including community opposition.

--Enhanced aftercare programs to give people transitioning from shelter to permanent housing the supports they need and tailored to keep people in permanent housing.

--A safe haven system to help people move inside and create tools for street outreach teams, including intensive mental health teams dedicated to street homelessness.

--A medical respite system that tracks the number of medically homeless and addresses their short- and long-term housing needs.

--Enhanced staffing, investments in infrastructure, and tailored services to support the unique needs of those in the shelter system for Runaway and Homeless Youth.

--Creation of a Deputy Mayor of Homelessness and Housing to integrate housing and homelessness policies and streamline coordination.

The report is also calling on the state to do more to address the crisis.

"Everyone wants a home, and everyone wants to experience the enormous possibilities of living in the greatest city in the world," Johnson said. "But for approximately 80,000 of our fellow New Yorkers, realizing those possibilities is complicated by the experience of homelessness."

He said that these are feasible policies that can eventually prevent homelessness from occurring in the first place, by providing support and opening pathways to permanent housing.

"Housing stability is at the core of every person's success," Johnson said. "We must fight for every New Yorker to have this right."

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