NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged Tuesday to do something “no other city has ever tried”: To end street homelessness within five years.
With no small measure of bravado, the mayor says the city has “cracked the code” to make it happen.
Microphone in hand, walking back and forth across the sanctuary of Manhattan’s Judson Memorial Church like a revivalist preacher, de Blasio said he’s finally found the magic elixir, the magic sauce to end street homelessness.
Watch: Mayor De Blasio Announces Plan To End Street Homelessness
“Is it our moral duty to bring people home? I’m going to ask you again, is it our moral duty to bring people home?” de Blasio said.
So here’s the path:
- Open 1,000 new safe haven beds
- Build 1,000 new apartments
- Use an army of outreach workers to convince the city’s 3,600 homeless street people to come in out of the cold
- Use cops to help on the streets and in the subways
Since de Blasio took office, the number of homeless has increased by about 10,000, and officials have had a tough time opening new shelters and building affordable housing.
Since he was in a church, and in the presence of Timothy Cardinal Dolan, and a host of prominent religious leaders, the mayor surprisingly and candidly admitted past failures.
“I will be honest,” de Blasio said. “We in this administration, we have tried many times to get it right, and there have been times when we just didn’t succeed. Progress eluded us. Strategies we thought would work failed.”
“Is 1,000 safe haven beds and 1,000 apartments enough, so that at the end of five years New York City residents will no longer see street homeless?” asked CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
“What we’re saying, it’s enough to get everyone who’s long-term homeless off the streets,” de Blasio said. “We are not saying you will never see another homeless person.”
Giselle Routhier is the policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless.
“The big question, though, is we really need to make sure that the resources that the mayor has proposed come to fruition,” she said. “Housing for folks on the streets. That’s huge.”
But Routhier is not a believer about the use of cops and subway diversion programs, saying she wants to see the city start moving away from those methods.
De Blasio didn’t say how much would be spent on the program this year, but he pledged $100 million in the next fiscal year.