Street Homeless New Yorkers In Peril

The recent frigid weather in New York City (tonight’s temperature is forecast to drop to 13 degrees Fahrenheit) is another life-and-death reminder of the Bloomberg administration’s dangerous proposals to radically change the City’s approach to street homelessness. Those proposals would sharply reduce access to emergency shelter and services for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, at a time of rising homelessness citywide.

Coalition for the Homeless has prepared detailed analyses of the two misguided street homelessness policies advanced by the Bloomberg administration in recent months:

1. The administration’s plan to move the only intake center for homeless men from Manhattan, where the majority of street homelessness is concentrated, to a notorious armory shelter located in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn; and
2. The administration’s plan to cut back on shelter and services for street homeless individuals by closing drop-in centers at night, by reducing the number of drop-in centers, and by putting new restrictions on church and synagogue shelters run by volunteers.

An array of news organizations, from the New York Daily News to the Epoch Times, have written about the City’s plan to cut back on services for street homeless people. And Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz wrote a powerful piece contrasting the relatively benign treatment accorded Wall Street’s most notorious scofflaw, currently “sheltered” in a penthouse suite, with the City’s neglect of homeless New Yorkers.

The Bloomberg administration’s misguided street homelessness policies were the subject of a lively New York City Council hearing on January 14th. In a press release issued that day, Councilmember Bill de Blasio, who chaired the oversight hearing, got to the heart of the matter: “Especially during these harsh winter months, we must ensure that our City’s most vulnerable homeless population – the street homeless – has adequate access to services and shelter. Cutting drop-in center hours and restructuring the faith-based network will spell disaster for hundreds of New Yorkers in need.”