Saturday, December 21, 2019

Mayor de Blasio Announces Plan That Will End Long-Term Street Homelessness in New York City

NY City Hall Press Photo

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration announced on December 17 Tuesday, its first-in-the nation, 6- Point Action Plan to end long-term street homelessness in New York City over the next five years. The plan will increase housing, mental health and medical services for unsheltered individuals, and enhance outreach resources to deliver more urgent and rapid responses to unsheltered individuals in need.

“Homeless New Yorkers are just like us—they deserve our love and compassion and a commitment to go as far as we can to help,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “So here’s our promise: we will help every last person experiencing long-term homelessness off our streets and we will do more than we ever thought possible to bring them home.”

Current strategies have helped more than 2,450 individuals off the streets and into transitional and permanent settings since the launch of HOME-STAT in April 2016.
By marshaling new and critical resources, the first-in-the-nation six-point Action Plan, unveiled will:

1. Increase Safe Haven capacity by opening 1,000 new Safe Haven beds

2. Create 1,000 new low-barrier permanent apartments by working with partners across the housing and social services sectors

3. Deliver new health resources to people where they are, providing treatment through street medical care and behavioral health care, and build the trust needed for clients to come inside

4. Provide coordinated rapid outreach response through the Street Homelessness Joint Command Center

5. Leverage state-of-the-art outreach technology to better connect clients to the services they need to transition into housing

6. Expand Diversion and Outreach in our subway system

Create Paths to Permanency Through New Housing Resources

Through this Action Plan, the City will expand the number of beds designed to support New Yorkers who’ve lived on the streets with specialized services. These 1,000 new ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ will increase the total number of beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals by 64 percent citywide to 2,800. Today, there are approximately 1,800 such beds available across the five boroughs—triple the number available in 2014.

To address urgent housing needs, the City will also create 1,000 permanent housing units for New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness, working in collaboration with housing and social services nonprofit providers. In partnership with HPD, the City will work to identify privately-owned properties throughout the City with a large share of vacancies that can be converted into safe, secure permanent housing. These new units could be immediately occupied by eligible households, including some who are formerly unsheltered individuals.

The plan will also improve access to rental assistance for unsheltered individuals, and make it clear that a shelter stay is not a requirement for unsheltered individuals working with outreach teams to qualify for rental assistance. For unsheltered individuals who do choose to utilize rental assistance, the City will work to expedite rehousing placements. Additionally, the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) will enhance the supportive housing placement process, including through the launch of a new eligibility and tracking database system during 2020.

Provide Coordinated Medical and Behavioral Health Care

To strengthen the provision of medical and behavioral health care directly to unsheltered New Yorkers where they are, the City will expand the Street Medicine approach developed by HOME-STAT outreach providers to all five boroughs, delivering rapid response care on the streets and in the subways with services such as: risk assessments, wound care, referrals to medical and mental health providers, medication assistance, administration of antibiotics and blood pressure and diabetes screening. Currently, the Street Medicine program operates in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

The City will also work across Agencies, bringing all relevant experience and expertise to the table, to ensure unsheltered New Yorkers with the most serious mental health challenges are closely connected to care, referred to care coordination, and/or engaged by mobile treatment teams, which provide psychosocial and psychiatric assessment, medication management, care coordination, peer support, and housing placement assistance to people where they are. Additionally, teams offer specialized treatment interventions for trauma and substance use, taking a harm reduction approach.

NYC Health + Hospitals participates in interagency coordination meetings to ensure smooth transition between homeless outreach, removal to the hospital for emergency services, and discharge back to the community. Further, there will be hospital coordination with DHS to improve discharge planning for patients returning to shelter. The NYC Health + Hospital Central Office will coordinate with city agency partners, outreach teams, and hospitals to ensure ongoing communication.

ICYMI: Status Updates on City’s New Approaches

Street Homelessness Joint Command Center–

DHS and NYPD lead a 24/7/365 Street Homelessness Joint Command Center that conducts interagency rapid outreach deployment from a central location using precision mapping, client information, and rapid response to incoming notifications.

To address the most challenging cases of unsheltered homelessness involving high-needs clients—who often face the most significant, overlapping needs, including mental health and substance misuse—the Joint Command Center also develops tailored interventions on a case-by-case basis to work towards a breakthrough to encourage these individuals to finally accept services and transition off the streets and out of the subways. Individual plans are created in close collaboration with partners including DOHMH, H+H, FDNY Emergency Medical Services, and contracted outreach providers

Diversion– The Subway Diversion Project is a citywide initiative reforming Police Officers’ approach to engaging and offering services to unsheltered New Yorkers underground, with a focus on diverting individuals from the criminal justice system towards outreach services and supportive programs.  Participants who opt into the program complete an assessment with an outreach team, receive a referral to shelter and/or other services, and have their summonses cleared, ultimately diverting them towards shelter away from unnecessary formal court processes and helping more people come inside and out of the subways. The City is expanding the program across Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens

Unprecedented Investments Show Progress – Since 2014, the City has redoubled outreach efforts, dedicating unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers:

Quintupling the City’s investment in street homeless programs, increasing from approximately $45M in 2013 to more than $240M

Tripling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from fewer than 200 to more than 550, with those dedicated staff canvassing the streets every day, building relationships over weeks and months through regular contact and concerted engagement with homeless New Yorkers focused on encouraging them to accept services and transition off the streets.

More than quadrupling the number of emergency ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ beds dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, bringing the total up from 600 to more than 1,800 today, and hundreds more set to open in the coming years. Today’s announcement of 1,000 new beds will ultimately increase the citywide total by 654 percent, to approximately 2,800 beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals and available to HOME-STAT outreach teams in their citywide outreach efforts.

Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve delivery of services, with outreach teams now knowing approximately 1,300 street homeless individuals by name and actively engaging another 2,400 individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless.

Increasing joint outreach operations to engage more New Yorkers and offer more supports, including expanding joint outreach operations with partner Agencies such as DOHMH, Parks Department, Department of Sanitation, NYPD, and the MTA to address conditions as they occur and provide alternative pathways to permanence.

“The de Blasio administration is rising to meet the moral challenge of street homelessness with a bold plan the likes of which our country has never seen,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Raul Perea-Henze. “This action plan to end long-term street homelessness is rooted in lessons we have learned about the power of persistent outreach and coordinated care for the whole person wherever they are in their journey. We call on all New Yorkers to help us bring family members, friends and neighbors back home from the streets.”


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