Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday announced an additional $171 million for homeless services in his proposed executive budget for the fiscal year 2023. The mayor says the investment will pay for 1,400 Safe Haven and stabilization beds, small-scale alternatives to traditional shelter settings, the creation of three drop-in centers, and improving ongoing outreach efforts. The investment, which City Hall says would be the largest of its kind to be made by the city, will be allocated every year beginning next fiscal year.
“Too many of our fellow New Yorkers are experiencing unsheltered homelessness — but we cannot and will not abandon them,” Adams said in a statement. “We are making the largest investment in street outreach and low-barrier beds that a city administration ever has, in an effort to almost double the number of Safe Haven and stabilization beds available to New Yorkers.”
“These resources will encourage people to come inside and will pave a way toward permanent housing and the stability that every New Yorker deserves.”
Known as “low-barrier programs,” Safe Haven beds, stabilization beds, and drop-in centers are designed to help homeless New Yorkers get off the street or out of the subway system. These specialized beds are located in higher-quality facilities with better services and fewer restrictions to access them. They typically offer smaller physical settings, on-site services, and workers who try to encourage the eventual transition to permanent housing. Drop-in centers offer services to meet immediate needs, including showers, food, and connections to health care and legal help.
Adams announced that 500 low-barrier beds designated for homeless New Yorkers would be made available as part of his Subway Safety Plan unveiled in February. An additional 100 beds are expected to be made available in the coming months. The city aims to have another 570 specialized beds available by the end of the year and another 325 by the middle of 2023, together totaling more than 4,000 beds for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.
The extra investment comes as the city continues to clear homeless encampments. Two weeks after the program began in mid-March, Adams said more than 230 makeshift shelters had been cleaned. The city’s Police Department told Gothamist it had broken down more than 300 of the encampments as of April 6.
When Adams released the city’s preliminary budget in February, advocates for affordable housing and the homeless took issue with the lack of funding for basic needs and critiqued the focus on removing homeless New Yorkers from the subways.
Advocates this week applauded Adams’ investment in safe haven beds and homeless outreach services but voiced concern about its decrease in funding for services that support homeless families, like the Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) as well as reductions in the city’s Department of Homeless Services and Department of Social Services.
“Cutting the budgets at DHS and DSS will lead to fewer services for homeless New Yorkers and unconscionable delays for those trying to exit the shelter system,” Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO of Win, said in response to the budget cuts.
Quinn continued: “With the eviction moratorium expiring, we are already facing a wave of evictions that is overwhelming New York’s Right to Counsel program. That means it is even more important that we arm homeless families with the tools they need to find stability and exit shelter, like full mental health support in shelters and income building programs.”
Similarly, The Supportive Housing Network of New York took issue with Adams’ budget cuts: “While we appreciate the City’s investment in safe haven and stabilization beds, the Mayor well knows that the real answer to homelessness is housing, and we desperately need more of it. The Mayor must make good on his campaign promise to invest $4 billion a year in affordable and supportive housing.”
The final budget must be passed by the City Council before July 1. Council Speaker Adrienne Adams expressed support for the $171 million investment.
“Safe Havens, stabilization beds, and drop-in centers with health care services, along with care-centered street outreach, should be the consistent focus of the city’s efforts directed to our unsheltered neighbors,” Speaker Adams said. “The council is proud to have prioritized elevating the need for investments in these sound policies and practices, and applaud Mayor Adams for committing this level of resources to them in his Executive Budget.”
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