News Articles

Mayor DeBlasio and Catholic Charities Tackle Homelessness

By Jim Sliney Jr

If you’re a New Yorker you know our homeless problem has been around for a long time. You also know how harsh the winters are and how dangerous the subways can be. It’s no way to live. That’s why Mayor Bill DeBlasio has drawn a line in the sand.

The New York Times reported that the City will be forcing developers of affordable-housing projects (rental buildings with more than 40 units) to set aside 15 percent of the units for the homeless. This could add roughly 1,000 new apartments for the homeless each year, almost doubling the 1,300 apartments that are currently under development.

This mandate is part of the Mayor’s plan to “end homelessness as we know it” and is one of the city’s most ambitious efforts in a decade to address the lack of housing for homeless people.

The Mayor’s plan also includes an important role for Catholic Charities of New York. As part of the initiative, CCNY will contribute to adding 1000 new ‘safe haven’ beds to which will be available to support unsheltered New Yorkers. The plan will also focus on delivering mobilized mental and physical health services to people in need where they are and when they need it in contrast to the model of healthcare as a destination for people to travel to. Furthermore, the plan will improve and expand the rapid response services that coordinate out of the Street Homelessness Command Center, and implement new technologies that will allow people to connect with housing opportunities quicker and easier. Lastly, Subway Diversions will be less about involving criminal justice and more about making support programs available, so that homelessness can be addressed rather than punished.

Overall, the goal of this plan is to reduce homelessness by 50% in the next 5 years. By building coalitions between the City and the nonprofit support organizations like Catholic Charities of New York, a vast amount of focus will be brought to bear on one of the city’s greatest areas of need.

Both the City and Catholic Charities have provided free legal assistance to tenants facing eviction. That has kept more people from becoming homeless by dropping evictions by a third between 2013 and 2018. The City’s rental assistance voucher programs has also moved about 111,000 people out of shelters.

Progress is being made, but there is no acceptable rate of homelessness. This plan, carried out by the City and the nonprofits the City works closest with, may just be able to save thousands more people from becoming or remaining homeless. Rather than taking a wait and see approach, you can be sure Catholic Charities is going to ramp up its efforts to help make this plan a reality.