Street Homelessness on the Decline, Bloomberg Says


There are 3,306 homeless people living on New York City streets, a decline 12 percent since last year, Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of Homeless Services announced Tuesday.

Two years ago, Bloomberg launched a “supportive housing” program that provides access to subsidized housing designated specifically for use by the homeless. That program helped spur the decline, as well as more aggressive efforts to break up homeless encampments and cooperation with MTA to reach out to homeless people who spend time on the subways, officials said.

Still, homeless advocates took issue with the extent of the programs.

“The only genuine solution to ending homelessness is the creation of additional permanent supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers,” said Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Coalition of the Homeless. “Mayor Bloomberg has created fewer new apartments for homeless individuals and families than the successful Housing New York initiative of the Koch and Dinkins administrations.”

The announcement also included the introduction of a new ad campaign, called “Give Real Change” that encourages subway riders to contact Homeless Services through 311 rather than giving money to the homeless.

In a press release, DHS described the survey’s method as “nationally recognized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the national standard for this type of homeless count,” but the city’s surveys of the homeless have come into question. According to the New York Times’ CityRoom blog, a Columbia professor who worked on the survey quit last year, saying it would under-represent the street homeless, and previous counts have been called out as misleading by Coalition for the Homeless. Despite the gains in combating street homelessness, the Coalition for the Homeless has unleashed serious criticism against the program, citing use of illegal boarding houses and a long-term rise in chronic homelessness.