Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
There's reason for optimism about ending homelessness as we know it in New York City.
Sure, the problem has never been worse. There are 57,000 homeless
people daily in city homeless shelters or living on the streets,
probably more. At least 22,000 of them are kids and, for them,
But now a loosely knit network of community-based groups, calling
themselves United to End Homelessness, have joined to author and promote
a detailed plan. They fittingly called it "A Roadmap to Ending Homelessness."
The timing isn't random. It comes just weeks before an election sure
to shake up city policies for decades with a new mayor, all new citywide
officials and several new City Council members, too.
Nicole Branca, deputy executive director of the Supportive Housing
Network of New York, is a steering committee member. She says the
group’s hope "is that this briefing book provides the next administration
with the research, ideas and motivation to develop and start
implementing a plan to end homelessness on day one."
This is no pie-in-the-sky plan from do-gooders. It's a war plan
against homelessness that actually saves taxpayer dollars. Their
research says it costs $36,000 a year to keep a family in shelter, but
just $6,000 to prevent homelessness in the first place.
They say the city and state pay $78 a day for a person in shelter,
$165 if they're in prison and $802 a day for a psychiatric hospital. The
cost of subsidizing a homeless person in housing, including the
supportive services they need, is $68.
The city's Department of Homeless Services spends nearly $1 billion
yearly on homeless shelters. That's not including the expenses of
multiple shelter programs under other agencies. Prevention programs for
those at-risk of homelessness, moving families very quickly to permanent
housing and providing the numerous other pathways to stable housing the
platform advocates is the right thing to do, but it isn't cheap.
Reducing DHS's shelter costs could pay for most of it.
The only way to truly know the group’s roadmap would work in the real
world is, of course, to try it. [Read More.]
This is an excerpt of an Op-Ed originally published in the Gotham Gazette. Follow Care for the Homeless on Twitter @CFHNYC and Facebook for all our latest "Must Reads."