PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2018
Contact:
  • Isaac McGinn, mcginni@dss.nyc.gov (o: 929-221-5564 c: 646-946-9667)
  • Arianna Fishman, fishmana@dss.nyc.gov (o: 929-221-5249 c: 646-761-8135)
 

CITY PROGRAMS HELP MORE THAN 100,000 NEW YORKERS EXIT SHELTER OR AVOID SHELTER SINCE 2014

City achieves homelessness prevention milestone, connecting or keeping over 100,000 New Yorkers connected to housing

NEW YORK— The Department of Social Services today announced that more than 100,000 New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or on the verge of homelessness have been able to exit shelter to housing or avoid shelter and remain in their homes thanks to the rental assistance and rehousing programs rebuilt and reinstated by this administration since 2014.

“Homelessness is a decades-old challenge that wasn’t created and won’t be solved overnight,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our prevention and rental assistance efforts have helped more than 100,000 New Yorkers either avoid shelter or transition out of shelter to permanent housing. We will continue to use these strategies aggressively as we work to turn the tide on homelessness.”

“Our City is 100 percent committed to fighting the affordability crisis that has left way too many New Yorkers without homes. As we work to help more people retain and regain an affordable place to live, today we acknowledge a major milestone: connecting more than 100,000 New Yorkers to permanent housing,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio. “The need is vast and we have a lot of work ahead, but today I want to recognize the dedicated frontline staff who’ve supported fellow New Yorkers going through hard times, and congratulate people who’ve retained or regained an affordable place to call home.”

“When the City and State cut rental assistance in 2011, homelessness increased 38-percent increase in just three years. Our Administration stepped in to fill the gap and aggressively rebuilt rental assistance and rehousing programs, which we’re proud to announce have helped more than 100,000 children and adults get back on their feet with dignity across the five boroughs,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Our top priority is preventing homelessness where possible and helping New Yorkers exit shelter, stabilize their lives, and return to the communities they call home. Today’s announcement demonstrates the impact that these programs have, and will continue to have, as we redouble our efforts to address this crisis decades in the making.”

The citywide challenge of homelessness was not created overnight. Homelessness in New York City increased 115 percent between 1994 and 2014—and in just three years between 2011 and 2014, it grew almost 40 percent, from 38,000 to more than 51,000 after the City and State cancelled the Advantage rental assistance program. Immediately upon taking office, the de Blasio Administration stepped in to fill the gap left by the City and State’s cancellation of the Advantage rental assistance program by creating and implementing new rental assistance programs as well as reinstating rehousing programs. While the devastating impacts of economic inequality, including rising rents outpacing wages, and past choices made in New York City, Albany and Washington led to the homeless crisis we face today, the initiatives of the Department of Social Services (HRA and DHS) are beginning to reverse the trend, with the City’s rebuilt rental assistance and rehousing programs helping more than 100,000 children and adults across over 38,000 households exit or avoid shelter since 2014; with funding for tenant legal services up fifteen-fold and evictions down 27 percent since 2014; and with the DHS shelter census for 2017 remained roughly flat year over year for the first time in more than a decade.

“I applaud the efforts of Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Banks, and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for reaching this important milestone. This achievement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that rental supplements are the most effective tool to combat the homeless crisis,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Social Services Committee.

"100,000 formerly homeless New Yorkers connected to housing is not just another statistic; those are 100,000 lives who were helped and kept off the street. This announcement is proof positive that the work DHS and HRA are doing is having a profound impact on preventing New York City's homelessness crisis from becoming even worse," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Borough by borough, neighborhood by neighborhood, we must continue to work hard to help those in need. The work these agencies are doing is not over, however this is an important milestone in the battle to house all New Yorkers."  

“I want to congratulate the City and the Department of Social Services on their achievement of helping over 100,000 children and adults leave homeless shelters, or remain in their homes and beat back the threat of homelessness, since 2014. The human toll of New York City’s decades-long affordable housing crisis is incalculable. But step by step, through City programs like LINC and FEPS, and by fighting tenant harassment, strengthening our rent laws, making housing court more tenant friendly, and constructing truly affordable housing, we will begin to turn this tide,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“The Department of Social Services’ (DSS) milestone of 100,000 New Yorkers having either avoided or exited the shelter system offers a glimmer of hope that our City is making progress towards tackling homelessness in NYC,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “There is much more work to be done in addressing homelessness, but this a promising step in the right direction. I thank the DSS, the advocates, and all those who have contributed to the demonstrated success of the rental assistance and rehousing programs. I look forward to more wins as we continue the fight to ensure that every New Yorker has access to decent, safe, affordable housing and comprehensive social services.”

“Our city is taking a multi-pronged approach to addressing the homelessness crisis, and today’s announcement shows that it is paying dividends,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal. “As public policy experiments across the country have demonstrated, the best way to keep people out of shelters and off the streets is by helping them find affordable, stable housing. We also need to do more to ensure that those who are in our shelter system are safe, which is why I introduced legislation earlier this year requiring training of shelter staff. Pairing forward-thinking policies with a sense of compassion, we can turn the tide against homelessness. I applaud the Department of Homeless Services and the Mayor’s office on this major achievement.”  

“Relocating 100,000 people out of shelters and into permanent housing is an accomplishment so immense that it is difficult to grasp. It certainly speaks to this administration’s determination to end homelessness in our city,” said Council Member Karen Koslowitz.

“New York City has the tremendous challenge and responsibility to take care of those in need. It is promising that 100,000 people moved out of the shelter system since 2014 with programs aimed at affordability and housing protection. Of course, we still have much work to do to prevent New Yorkers from entering the shelter system,” said Council Member Keith Powers.

“The reinstitution and expansion of rental assistance programs have been crucial to ensuring that vulnerable New Yorkers can stay in their homes or move out of the shelter system. While homelessness remains a major issue in our City, these programs are a step in the right direction and should be strengthened further in order to reach the communities that need them the most,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.

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About the Department of Social Services (DSS)
The Department of Social Services, comprised of the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), serves more than three million New Yorkers annually through a broad range of services that aim to address poverty, income inequality, and prevent homelessness. In April 2016, following a comprehensive review of the City’s homelessness policies, Mayor de Blasio announced a major restructuring of homeless services in New York City and appointed Commissioner Steven Banks to lead the Department of Social Services, which integrated HRA and the Department of Homeless Services under a joint management structure. HRA serves over 3 million New Yorkers through the administration of more than 12 major public assistance programs with 15,000 employees.  DHS oversees a broad network of shelters and services with 2,000 employees, and is dedicated to helping New Yorkers experiencing homelessness get back on their feet as quickly as possible.  DSS is central in implementing Mayor de Blasio’s agenda to expand opportunity for more New Yorkers, help homeless New Yorkers secure stable housing, address income inequality, and ensure that New Yorkers receive the benefits and assistance to which they are entitled.