The city has begun removing children from the Auburn shelter in Fort Greene that was the subject of a Times expose in December, The New York Times reported. The move revealed that de Blasio is planning major changes to the way the city deals with the homeless — changes that are just beginning to take shape.
The city used to refer homeless families to federally funding housing; when that ended, they offered them rent subsidies. But as federal funding for those programs also dried up, the city housed them in shelters. By the time Bloomberg left office, the number of homeless people living in shelters “had peaked at more than 52,000 — the highest number on record since the Great Depression,” said the Times.
That number includes more than 80,000 school-age children who were homeless in 2013.
“There are major American cities that have the same population as we have people in shelter,” the story quoted de Blasio as saying. “We have to look this in the face. This is literally an unacceptable dynamic, and we have to reverse it.”
New efforts will include prevention, a version of the former rent subsidy program using state money, enhancement of anti-eviction legal services for families, and an “aftercare” support program to keep newly housed families from returning to the shelter system.
The Auburn shelter will stay open but for adults only. It is also getting a revamp and a restaurant training program. The shelter has been repeatedly cited for shocking conditions, including “vermin, mold, lead exposure, an inoperable fire safety system, insufficient child care and the presence of sexual predators.”
The city is in the process of relocating 400 children and their families from Auburn and another shelter in downtown Manhattan to more appropriate family housing.
“I think the central thrust has to be getting at the root causes,” of homelessness, said the Mayor. “Greater supply of affordable housing. Pushing up wages and benefits. More preventative efforts.”
Perhaps the city will consider housing families instead of single men on 9th Street in Carroll Gardens, as the community there has requested. What do you think of the new administration’s approach to the problem of homelessness?
New York Is Removing Over 400 Children From Two Homeless Shelters [NY Times]
Inside a Fort Greene Homeless Shelter [Brownstoner]
Photo by Scott Scott Bintner for PropertyShark