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Under legislation approved by the New York City Council on Thursday, the value of rental assistance vouchers provided to homeless New Yorkers will increase, a major step in moving people out of shelters into permanent housing. Sponsored by Council Member Stephen Levin, the bill raises the city’s rental subsidy, called CityFHEPS, from a maximum of $1,580/month to $2,217/month for a two-bedroom apartment for a family of three. Homeless advocates say this could help thousands more homeless families find permanent housing each year.
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When the Daily News shared a photo of a homeless New Yorker on a subway car earlier this week, it drew much attention all the way up to Governor Cuomo. Yesterday, the governor called on the MTA to create a plan to solve the issue. In response, the MTA released a plan today that deals with three main points– no person is permitted to remain in a station for more than an hour; during a public health emergency, no person can remain on a train or the platform after an announcement that the train is being taken out of service; and wheeled carts greater than 30 inches in length or width are banned.
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Starting this week, about 2,500 individuals experiencing homelessness in New York City will be transferred from shelters to hotels, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Saturday. The single adults who will be prioritized for the hotel rooms will include seniors and those who tested positive for the coronavirus or have symptoms of the disease. The move comes as 340 homeless New Yorkers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 20 have died, according to the city’s Department of Social Services.
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Street view of 148 West 124th Street; map data © 2016 Google
The city took some strides this week in the search to find shelter for a growing homeless population. First, the de Blasio administration announced it would turn to vacancies in new luxury developments to find homes for potentially hundreds of homeless New Yorkers, as Bloomberg reported. On Thursday, the Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund—a nonprofit that partners with the city for affordable housing projects—scooped up 14 buildings in upper Manhattan and the Bronx for $74 million. According to The Real Deal, the purchase will provide immediate housing for 224 homeless households.
Photo credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday released a plan to get 3,600 homeless New Yorkers off city streets within five years. The six-point initiative adds new “safe haven” beds, creates 1,000 permanent units of housing, provides new health resources, and ramps up the city’s outreach response. Named The Journey Home, the $100 million plan comes as the number of those experiencing homelessness in the city has reached the highest levels in nearly 100 years, with more than 60,000 people currently living in homeless shelters.
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The New York City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration have reached an agreement to provide more housing for homeless New Yorkers. As first reported by Politico, the legislation, expected to pass next week, would require developers of new housing developments that receive city financing to set aside at least 15 percent of units for homeless individuals and families. The new law could create about 1,000 new apartments each year for those experiencing homelessness.
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Update 12/10/19: After a long negotiation in federal court on Monday, Newark and New York have agreed to suspend the SOTA Program, Politico reported. “In the spirit of productive conservations and with the goal of moving toward an improved program, we will be temporarily pausing placements in Newark,” de Blasio spokesperson Freddi Goldstein said in a statement. New York City will also send Newark a list of participants of the program and their addresses once an agreement is reached.
Newark officials are suing New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio over the city’s controversial Special One-Time Assistance (SOTA) Program that provides homeless shelter residents with free rent for a year if they leave NYC. More than 2,200 families have been placed in 62 New Jersey cities through the program, with over half ending up in Newark. Recent investigations have found that some families end up in “illegal and uninhabitable” apartments and are essentially forced to become dependent on Newark social services. The lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday, as NJ.com first reported, just weeks after Newark passed a law to make the program illegal and ban landlords from taking more than a month’s worth of subsidized rent.
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In 2017, the de Blasio administration announced a five-year “Turning the Tide on Homelessness” plan to convert hundreds of cluster apartments, occupied by homeless families across the city, into permanently affordable units. Earlier this year, the City was able to complete the first phase of that plan by financing not-for-profit developers to acquire 17 buildings, rehabilitate them, and turn them into permanent affordable housing. Now the administration is moving forward with a second phase that will convert 14 more “cluster site” buildings. The first phase created housing for roughly 450 homeless families and the second phase is expected to aid another 200 families.
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“Mass surveillance” or massive outreach effort? The verdict seems to still be out on Mayor de Blasio’s new initiative to help solve the homelessness crisis in New York City. In a press release today announcing the new Outreach NYC program, the city says it will “mobilize thousands of frontline City Agency staff to request outreach assistance via 311 when they observe individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness” as a way to help them into shelters. To be exact, the total number of city employees who will receive this training is 18,000. But the Coalition for the Homeless feels that the plan merely implements “mass surveillance of homeless New Yorkers” without making investments in solutions.
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The city’s police department has launched a new surveillance system to keep an eye on homeless New Yorkers at more than 10 subway stations, THE CITY reported on Thursday. NYPD officers will watch feeds from more than 100 live cameras that show views from stations and platforms in order to respond to “quality-of-life and public safety concerns,” the city announced in August. The monitoring program comes as part of a city and state effort to address homelessness in the subways.