NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — While permanent solutions take time, one way to immediately address New York City’s homeless problem is the use of drop-in centers, where people can get help during the day. But capacity at these facilities was cut in half under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
CBS2’s Diane Macedo went out to ask Mayor Bill de Blasio if capacity should be restored.
At Urban Pathways on West 30th Street and Eighth Avenue, every day brings in new faces looking to get off the streets.
“We’re a drop-in center,” said Bob Kennedy, program director. “People just come off the street for food, shelter, showers, case management.”
As soon as someone comes in, they get a safe place to put their belongings, a hot meal, access to a bathroom and a hot shower, as well as a physical and mental-health evaluation.
Those evaluations help reduce expensive emergency room visits by treating some clients on-site. Drop-in centers also help determine what kind of housing clients qualify for.
And sometimes the solution is far more simple.
“They’re actually helping me get a ticket back home to my family in Missouri,” said Peter Marin, a client at Urban Pathways.
Macedo asked the mayor Monday why we aren’t seeing more of this.
Macedo: “I know HOME-STAT is looking for longer-term solutions for people, but in the meantime, people are waiting for it to kick in. Why aren’t we seeing more smaller, shorter-term programs that can help people now, like drop-in centers?”
De Blasio: “We have moved aggressively on the safe-haven beds, the ones we have in place and the 500 more that’ll be in place by June. I do believe in the drop-in center model, and we’re going to move more towards that as well. We’re going to need all these tools.”
Macedo: “Will we see more to deal with this on the short term, and why haven’t we yet?”
De Blasio: “It’s not satisfying because we invest and we invest and it still takes time for everything to take hold. So we would all love very, very fast solutions to a lot of problems. But I’m convinced that all of these investments, all of these changes are steadily changing the situation.”
For now, Urban Pathways says there are just four drop-in centers in all of New York City, and for the time being, the one they run has expanded to 24 hours a day in order to keep up with demand.