Changing Course from Mayor Bloomberg’s Failed Approach to Homelessness

In August the New York City Independent Budget Office released an analysis of Mayor Bloomberg’s five-year plan to reduce homelessness by two-thirds, and found that the Bloomberg administration is far from achieving its goals.

The IBO report (available here) found that family homelessness remains at near-record levels and that, despite marginal increases in City spending on homelessness prevention, expenditures on emergency shelter have soared alongside the homeless population. (The New York Times has a good summary of the report’s findings here.)

Indeed, as Coalition for the Homeless noted in our own analysis back in June, the number of homeless families in New York City shelters – currently more than 9,000 families with more than 14,000 children each night – is actually higher than when Mayor Bloomberg announced his plan back in June 2004.

The Coalition was invited by the Gotham Gazette to discuss the findings of the IBO report and to outline how the City can change course from the failed approach to homelessness embraced by the Bloomberg administration. The Coalition’s Mary Brosnahan and Patrick Markee highlighted some immediate steps the City can take to reduce homelessness:

* Targeting federal housing aid to homeless people;
* Repairing the flaws in the Bloomberg administration’s rental assistance programs; and
* Expanding homelessness prevention services.

The Gotham Gazette also included a contribution from New York City Councilmember Bill deBlasio, who chairs the City Council committee with oversight of homeless services. Councilmember deBlasio called for expanding homelessness prevention services.

Finally, a correspondent from the Gotham Gazette also spent a night riding with the Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program and seeing firsthand the struggles of street homeless New Yorkers.