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According to a new report titled “State of the Homeless 2019” by the Coalition for the Homeless, the number of New Yorkers sleeping in shelters each night is large enough to count as the state’s ninth-largest city: Close to 64,000 people took refuge in shelters each night according to the report–a record high figure that fell only slightly in February. The report takes both Mayor Bill De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to task on the issue, AM New York reports, and advises that the city build at least 24,000 subsidized affordable units and set aside 6,000 units for homeless households as quickly as possible to keep the numbers from growing.
The coalition projects the homeless population will grow to 5,000 people by 2022 if the current situation persists, pointing to the inadequacies of both the governor and the mayor at creating new affordable housing to accommodate the growing needs of the city’s residents. The report also noted that 18,212 single adults were living in shelters in February of 2019, a 150 percent increase since 2009.
In addition to adding and setting aside units of subsidized housing, the coalition recommends that the mayor increase the city’s shelter capacity, and called on the governor to reverse state cuts to the city’s shelter program. Giselle Routhier, the policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, said of the need to create and set aside housing, “New York City’s homelessness crisis will not improve until the mayor uses every tool at his disposal.”
In response, a spokesman for the mayor’s office said the administration is taking steps to curb the homeless population by offering housing assistance and creating new affordable units, and that the city plans to open 43 new shelters: “More than 109,000 New Yorkers (since 2014) have received rehousing assistance to move out of or avoid shelter and we have financed over 10,200 homes for homeless New Yorkers.”
The governor’s office pointed to the state’s minimum wage increase, in addition to $200 million spent to curb additiction and ongoing efforts to provide affordable housing. Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor’s office said in a statement, “Fighting homelessness requires a holistic approach.”
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