NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As New York City nears the post-Michael Bloomberg era, one group is seeking a new direction in homeless policy.
The Coalition for the Homeless says that the mayor’s approach relies on short-term emergency solutions at the expense of long-term federally funded options, such as housing programs that have shown promise in the past.
They say a focus on moving families from shelters into permanent housing is the best bet.
“Everyone is saying that this what works to reduce family homelessness. This is what we need to do to make sure that kids and families aren’t forced to stay in shelters longer and longer and we’re just waiting for leadership from the mayor or from the next mayor,” Patrick Markee, Senior Political Analyst for the Coalition, said.
The Coalition’s executive director – Mary Brosnahan – said they’re already looking through the crop of mayoral contenders, seeking a new approach.
“I think that there’s a percolating awareness among New Yorkers as a whole that the track that we’re on right now is just not tenable,” she told WCBS 880 reporter Paul Murnane.
Brosnahan said that we are at a grim milestone in Bloomberg’s 12th and final year in office.
“Sadly, this year, the state for homelessness in New York City has never been worse,” she told 1010 WINS reporter Stan Brooks. “Today, for the first time in New York City history, we have 50,000 sleeping each night in our shelter system and that includes over 21,000 homeless kids.”
Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond said the numbers of the homeless entering the system are falling.
“There are fewer homeless families coming into the system today than there were two years ago. 25 percent fewer in February than two Februaries ago,” he said.
He also said there’s danger in relying on Washington.
“Because of the federal cuts, because of the paralysis in Washington, there is not going to be any help coming,” he said.
Mayor Bloomberg, for his part, said the Coalition is not a reputable organization.
He blamed the increase in the number of homeless in shelters on Albany and Washington.
“What’s happened, we are having fewer people coming into the homeless system. They are staying longer. Why? Because the state cut the Advantage program out. When they cut their money out, we also lost the federal monies. Without those subsidies, people don’t move out,” Bloomberg said Tuesday.
“Keep in mind, it was the Coalition for the Homeless that wanted to kill the program and hurt the people in the shelters,” he added.
He called the organization’s criticism disingenuous.