CityViews: State Must Equip the City to Truly Combat the Homeless Crisis

Across the five boroughs, homelessness has become too commonplace. Many of its victims are living on the streets, sleeping in parks, and escaping these cold winter months underground in the subways. An all-time record 63,500 New Yorkers sleep in shelters every night, including over 23,000 children. Every New Yorker should have a right to quality, affordable housing, but we have failed as the largest urban center in the country to deliver that to our most vulnerable communities.

The city’s housing landscape has only further exacerbated the ongoing record homelessness. Since 1993, the five boroughs have cumulatively lost 152,000 rent-regulated apartments, with an additional 130,000 converted to co-ops and condominiums. Government must maximize its capacity to turn the tide on this ever-increasing crisis.

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to combat homelessness was a good start, but its commitment to permanent housing solutions falls short for the magnitude of the emergency we face. His proposed set-aside of five percent of a projected 300,000 new and preserved affordable apartments scheduled to be built between now and 2026 does not address the immediate housing needs for tens of thousands of New Yorkers who are ready to leave the shelter system.