News Articles

Mayor de Blasio and Cardinal Dolan Highlight Plan to Add Beds for Homeless - New York Times

Sept. 23, 2015

A day before Pope Francis was to arrive in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said on Wednesday that a partnership between the Roman Catholic Church and the city would provide 150 beds this winter to homeless people who have been living on the street.

Mr. de Blasio said the effort, part of a recently announced initiative with religious organizations, would honor the pope’s visit.

“Pope Francis is calling us all to action,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference outside St. Anthony’s Church in the Bronx.

New York City’s effort to expand work with religious groups is one of several steps the city has taken in recent weeks to address the issue of homelessness, and it comes a day after Los Angeles declared a state of emergency and pledged tens of millions of dollars in additional funding to deal with the estimated 26,000 people who live on its streets.

In New York, a few thousand people are estimated to be living on the streets, but the city has about 57,000 people living in shelters, and last winter the number hit nearly 60,000.

Last week, the city began Opening Doors, a collaboration with churches and religious organizations to provide 500 additional beds this winter. The partnership with the Archdiocese of New York would be a part of that program. The religious groups are expected to use extra space in their buildings to supply 10 to 19 beds each, and they would also provide social services and dinner. Currently, nonprofit groups provide similar shelter targeted at the street homeless with 672 beds around the city.

The city and the church are also at work on other programs that could use church properties to yield more emergency shelter for homeless people, and for affordable housing for low-income residents.

At the news conference at St. Anthony’s, Cardinal Dolan said the mayor contacted him about six weeks ago and said he needed churches, civic organizations and business leaders to help him combat homelessness.

“Mayor, you’re singing our song,” the cardinal recalled saying. “Count us in.”

Read More