Elected Officials, Faith Leaders, Homeless Service Providers Praise Mayor de Blasio's Plan to Combat Homelessness

February 28, 2017

“Our homelessness crisis is one of those thorny problems where there’s no single silver bullet, every solution is difficult, and it’s tempting to play the blame game or shift responsibility instead of telling the truth,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “There’s a lot to review in this plan, but eliminating shelters that consistently don’t meet standards and getting homeless individuals and families out of inappropriate hotel and scatter-site settings are critical priorities. If the mayor accomplishes that, it will be worth the investment of effort, resources and political capital.”

State Senator Jesse Hamilton said, “I welcome this commitment to end cluster site housing and end the use of hotels as temporary housing. Transparency, further public input and fair share distribution of facilities are all critical values to uphold as we move forward. I commend Mayor de Blasio for reaffirming City efforts to ensure families remain in their communities and receive the truly livable housing every New Yorker deserves.”

"I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks for their efforts to help stem the tide of homelessness in our city. I look forward to working together to ensure that we provide these individuals and families with necessary resources to lead them on a path towards self-sufficiency,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Social Services.

“Sunset Park welcomes steps taken by the Mayor to develop a comprehensive plan to address homelessness. Placing families in hotels created too many problems for our community and homeless families need access to services and quality shelters. Our city needs better solutions for homeless housing and should explore options, including ways to better spread out the tax burden to help house the homeless,” said Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W Ortiz.

“A majority of homeless New Yorkers are children, and getting children and families out of short-term stays in hotels will promote stability and ensure their lives are improved,” said Assembly Member Deborah J. Glick. “All communities in New York City should share the task of caring for New Yorkers faced with misfortune, who need a permanent roof over their head. Gentrification will continue to place many New Yorkers at risk and it is a societal responsibility to help people get back on their feet, but also to ensure that poorer New Yorkers are not made homeless by rampant real estate speculation. This is a positive step forward and I hope that all New Yorkers find it in their hearts to be part of the solution.”

“I applaud the Mayor for developing this strategic process to address homelessness,” said Assembly Member Michael Dendekker. “Taking a borough-based community approach to overseeing siting and shelter operations is a step in the right direction.”

“New York State continues to struggle with the challenge of homelessness and I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for moving us in the right direction to begin to tackle the issue,” said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo. “However, there is more that needs to be done to prevent families from falling into the shelter system and ensuring that they stay in their homes. I look forward to continuing to support meaningful measures that will not only tackle the issue of homelessness but prevent homelessness.”

“Over time neighborhoods such as East Harlem, which I represent, have taken on our fair share of providing shelter and services to the homeless. I applaud the Mayor for developing a borough approach that will ensure that all communities share in the responsibilities to shelter the homeless,” said Assembly Member Robert J. Rodriguez.

“I commend Mayor de Blasio for his compassionate and humane approach to the serious and complicated problem of homelessness in our city, with a targeted timetable, and a practical plan for new sites, that will return the homeless to their communities,” said Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda. “It also opens up better lines of communication with local community boards and elected officials. Again, given the complicated situation, this is a major step in the right direction.”

Assembly Member Latoya Joyner said, “Ending the cycle of homelessness in the Bronx is a feat that doesn’t come lightly, as we are one of the boroughs with the highest rates of homelessness across our City. Homelessness impacts our communities, it impacts our families and it impacts our children and their education. By ending the use of cluster sites and commercial hotels, and reducing shelters sites overall, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration will be able to impact real change for those that are homeless by providing help that can lead to permanent housing. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for laying the groundwork to improve our communities and assisting those that have nowhere else to turn.”

Assembly Member Dan Quart said, “Prevention is the key to ending homelessness. I applaud Mayor de Blasio for recognizing that the first step to ending homelessness is keeping families from becoming homeless. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and state and city agencies to expand and improve our shelter system, ensuring that homeless New Yorkers have access to the tools they need to move out of the system quickly and sustainably.”

“At this pivotal moment when we are seeing a plateau in the shelter population, we have the opportunity to make a real impact on the future of homelessness in our neighborhoods. Government and community leaders alike must acknowledge the collective responsibility to choose compassion and ensure that all New Yorkers have a place to call home,” said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee. “Through innovative homelessness prevention programs and the increased availability of affordable housing, Mayor de Blasio has taken decisive action to connect New Yorkers to safe, affordable, and permanent housing. I applaud the Mayor’s plan to build on this success and provide shelter for New Yorkers in need.”

“As New Yorkers, we have a shared moral and legal responsibility to house the homeless. Unfortunately, we have been failing to meet that responsibility for decades,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “I give credit to Mayor de Blasio for stepping up to outline a way forward. While the best solution is permanent, affordable, and supportive housing, we must also do better providing safe and decent shelters. I'm proud to represent the Kensington community, where neighbors welcomed a new homeless shelter with compassion. We need a city where all communities do their fair share.” 

“The de Blasio administration is adapting to the needs of the homeless population in our city, taking this issue head-on,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “We know how tough it is when it comes to siting homeless shelters, but this is administration is seeking to be open with communities about needs and intentions so that all are helping our most vulnerable residents. We cannot tackle the problem of homelessness without a holistic approach that tackles poverty at the same time as housing. The de Blasio administration has been at the forefront of this effort nationally and I believe wholeheartedly that we will see the impact very soon.”

“The de Blasio administration's comprehensive plan to address our city's homelessness crisis reflects the inclusive and progressive values of its residents,” said Council Member Annabel Palma. “I fully support the Mayor's initiative in that it seeks to accommodate those afflicted with a lack of housing options by engendering a multi-pronged approach – from releasing more affordable housing units onto the market, to the aggressive expansion of shelters sites, while implementing a 'borough-based' strategy. I do believe that these actions will enable us to collectively deal with a problem that needs an expedited resolution – homelessness should not be seen as a curse, but as a temporary affliction that can be fixed.”

“Today’s announcement makes clear that Mayor de Blasio understands the urgency of our city’s homelessness crisis. This problem must be solved with a laser-like focus from the administration. I agree wholeheartedly with the need to increase the number of shelters and eliminate cluster housing. Shelters provide more than just beds to sleep in. They provide opportunities and support services for residents to break the cycle of homelessness and move to self-sufficiency. Seventy percent of New York’s homeless are families. They are working moms who can't make ends meet, children who attend our public schools, and families who have the same dreams and want the same opportunities as all New Yorkers. These are the people Win fights for day in and day out. It is vital that the new shelter plan ensures set-asides for families. The mayor and the Department of Homeless Services have assured me that their plan will commit 40% of new units to families. This will be necessary because the phase-out of cluster housing will move more than 3,000 families to shelter. Capacity and services for families — women and children — is an absolute must as we seek to finally bring this crisis to heel and get a handle on its explosive growth. I am heartened that the administration recognizes this and the critical work that family-homeless service providers like Win provide in breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness,” said Christine Quinn, CEO of Win.

“Nonprofit organizations have always been there for New Yorkers in need, no matter the political climate. Today, the Mayor is standing with all of us on the frontlines of New York’s homelessness crisis. And he’s renewing our commitment not just to provide ‘shelter’ for people without it, but to serve them, to lift them up, and to provide real opportunity to change the course of their lives,” said George McDonald, Founder and President of The Doe Fund. “The Mayor’s agenda dispenses with quick-fixes and bandages for deep civic wounds. Instead, it focuses on addressing the problem with a solution that works: transitional care for lives in transition. The shelter system should be – will be – a shining symbol of our city’s commitment to fairness and equality. These facilities are not buildings to be hidden away or rendered invisible. They are where life and hope is restored, and they should be hallowed as such. The mayor’s plan does exactly that.”

“Housing is a basic human right that society is obligated to provide for all,” said Reverend Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, President and CEO of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn.Providing access to decent and affordable housing and shelter for the homeless requires that all levels of government along with the private sector, religious groups and all components of society work together to insure that no individual and no family is ever denied.”

“I give this Mayor so much credit for taking on the tough issues. This Mayor is addressing issues that his predecessors would not touch,” said Julie Dent, Chairperson of Community Board 4, Brooklyn. “The borough based approached is so commonsense its genius! Keeping families and individuals close to the communities they lived in before becoming homeless helps to ease the transitions that families go through when they become homeless. It helps them to have some level of consistency while going through a very inconsistent living situation. Thank you Mr. Mayor for doing what others would not and that is taking good care of the homeless.”

“The humanitarian thing to do is to take care of our fellow citizens when they fall on hard times,” said Dorothy Turano, District Manager of Community Board 18, Brooklyn. “I think it’s amazing that the Mayor recognizes what the homelessness issues are and is addressing them head on.”

“As faith leaders, we have a commitment to stand up for the most vulnerable among us,” said Reverend Fred Davie, Executive Vice President of Union Theological Seminary. “Mayor de Blasio's plan to address homelessness is a necessary step towards dignifying the humanity of all New Yorkers.”

“It is commendable that our Mayor Bill de Blasio is committed to dignifying the lives of the less fortunate among us,” said Pastor Rohann D. Wellington, Assistant to the President for Strategic Planning and Communications Director of the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists. “As Seventh-day Adventists we support the mayor's efforts to lift and give a sense of dignity to the homeless. We remain committed to doing our spiritual mandate as a faith community while supporting the cities effort!”

“It is encouraging to witness the Mayor's vision to end homelessness in New York City,” said Reverend Peter Heltzel, PhD, of the Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary. “As faith leaders, we have a commitment to stand up for the most vulnerable among us. Mayor de Blasio's bold plan to address homelessness is a necessary step towards building a Beloved City where all New Yorkers have a warm and affordable hearth to return home to,” Rev Peter Heltzel, PhD Micah Institute at New York Theological Seminary.

“It has been clear that we need a new and strategic way to address the needs of New Yorkers who are homeless. With today's announcement, Mayor de Blasio has proposed a bold plan that both respects the dignity of homeless individuals and families, as well as ensures that they will get the quality shelter and services they need to move to independence,” said Mitchell Netburn, President and CEO of Project Renewal. “To succeed, the non-profits the City relies on, and will need to open and operate 90 new shelters, must be compensated appropriately and in a timely way.”

“The plan has merit, in particular as it recognizes the value of cost-effective, results-oriented shelters owned and operated by those nonprofits with demonstrated track records of success, and moves away from reliance on hotels, clusters, and landlords who charge extreme rents,” said Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO and President of BRC. “The test will be whether communities will recognize the value of and accept these new and improved facilities, and whether the city will pay nonprofits what they need to do these jobs right.”

“It is incredibly gratifying that the Mayor continues to release additional resources and now has put forward a meaningful plan to address homelessness in our City,” said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works. “At the end of the day we will not end homelessness until we have affordable housing that is accessible to everyone.”

“Families in New York City continue to struggle with increasing housing costs that outstrip the small gains made in median income among families in the wake of the recession,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “In communities where the most families are entering homelessness, the median income is less than half the citywide median income, and more than one-third of households are spending half of their income on rent. To ensure that homeless families and their children thrive, shelters must be integrated into communities in close proximity to their schools, work, health care and social service providers, and their social support networks. We applaud the steps taken by Mayor de Blasio and his administration today to ensure that New York’s children and families have access to shelter placements that keep them housed and safe in the immediate and enhance family well-being in the long term.”

“We’re hopeful that an increase in new and renovated shelters, particularly those that are ADA-accessible, will be more appealing to the people we work with on the street. Offering people shelter within their communities helps them maintain their connections with support systems such as friends and family, schools, and doctors,” said Dr. Roderick Jones, Executive Director of Goddard Riverside Community Center. “By enabling people to live close to their families, it allows families to partner with the individual and help them achieve self-sufficiency. It can be a crucial first step toward obtaining permanent housing, which is the solution to homelessness.”

“We commend Mayor de Blasio for shifting resources to congregate family shelters,” said Joanne M. Oplustil, President and CEO of CAMBA/ CAMBA Housing Ventures. “The Mayor's long term plan will focus on shelters that offer the best environment for providing services that enable children to thrive.”

“We commend the Mayor for taking a realistic look at a complex issue that has been growing for decades and releasing a realistic plan in response,” stated Eduardo LaGuerre, Co-Founder and CEO of NAICA. “This forward-looking borough-based approach is a common-sense strategy that we are confident will have a significant impact on reforming and consolidating our system, making it more effective and reducing homelessness.”

“Samaritan Daytop Village applauds Mayor de Blasio's commitment to developing a new model for high quality, purpose-built shelter to better meet the varied needs of families and single New Yorkers,” said Tino Hernandez, President and CEO of Samaritan Daytop Village. “We look forward to working with the City over the coming years on this important plan.”

“Cities across the country are struggling with serious issues related to homelessness. It is widely acknowledged that this is deeply complex spanning variables of poverty, unemployment, social isolation, health care complications, and rising rents,” said Pam Mattell, COO of Acacia Network Housing. “New York City has been on the forefront of ensuring housing for thousands of individual and families. Mayor de Blasio recognizes that there are many viable solutions. We applaud his thoughtful and outspoken advocacy. We are encouraged by the Mayor’s steadfastness and vision that affordable housing and rent subsidies are also critical. Acacia Network Housing is proud to partner with the Mayor to be part of the solution. We will not be deterred from this critical mission and stand alongside the Mayor in his pursuit to substantially address homelessness.”

“We applaud the Mayor for committing the City to a more strategic, compassionate and cost-effective approach to helping homeless New Yorkers through a robust emergency shelter system,” said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground. “As a leading street outreach provider for homeless individuals, we are confident that using purpose built shelters rather than hotel rooms will lead to considerably improved stability and health for our vulnerable constituency and will greatly benefit the City at large.”

“BronxWorks supports the Mayor’s plan to open up 90 purpose-built shelters while ending all hotel and cluster site operations. We know that families and individuals in shelter need and benefit from the kind of wraparound services only a dedicated shelter site can provide. Further, given that the homeless come from every community across the five boroughs, we also agree with the Mayor that shelters should be fairly distributed across New York City,” said Eileen Torres, Executive Director, BronxWorks.

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