As city spends $3.2B on homeless services, shelter population remains flat

Posted On Thu, May 23, 2019 By

Posted On Thu, May 23, 2019 By In affordable housing

Via CC

The population of New Yorkers living in homeless shelters has remained flat for the first time in a decade, officials said on Wednesday. During a City Council budget hearing, Steven Banks, the commissioner of the Department of Social Services, said the city has finally “broken the trajectory” and started to reverse the trend of uninterrupted shelter growth. “We would have more than 70,000 people in shelter today if it wasn’t for prevention and housing investments,” Banks said, as reported by the New York Post. The number of New Yorkers living in shelters has hovered around 60,000 daily for the last two years.

But Comptroller Scott Stringer called it “unacceptable” to barely make a dent in the homeless population, despite record-spending on services, which has doubled to $3.2 billion from 2014 to 2019.

“This is a moral crisis – and what we are doing today simply isn’t working. It’s time to recognize that reality, and meet the problem head on with a new approach,” Stringer testified during the hearing on Wednesday.

Stringer’s report shows that shelter costs have doubled to $1.9 billion from 2014 to 2019, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. The report found that the Department of Homeless Services’ spending on adult and family shelter is a main driver of expenses; adult shelter operations have increased from $326 million in 2014 to $666 million in 2019.

But Banks said several reforms made through Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Turning the Tide plan have been implemented, which has driven progress over the past five years. In addition to the flat shelter census, Banks said there has been a 37 percent drop in evictions, 2,000 fewer people on the street since 2016, and 200 substandard shelter sites closed.

Jane Meyer, a spokesperson for de Blasio, told the WSJ: “The shelter census has remained flat two years in a row for the first time in a decade. While there is always more work to be done, our strategies are taking hold, and we’re focused on taking that progress further.”

[Via WSJ ]

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