Administrator Carter and Commissioner Banks joins HOPE volunteers at a training site

 

PRESS RELEASE

June 19, 2018

Contact: Isaac McGinn, mcginni@hra.nyc.gov (o: 929-221-5564 c: 646-946-9667)

 

SURVEY ESTIMATES SIX PERCENT FEWER HOMELESS NEW YORKERS ON THE STREETS

Point-in-time estimate consistent with outreach teams' by-name list of street homeless individuals

NEW YORK—The Department of Homeless Services today announced that the federally mandated Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) street homeless survey conducted on January 22, 2018 found that 3,675 homeless individuals were on the streets of New York that night, 6 percent less than last year and 16 percent fewer than the first count in 2005. This point-in-time estimate reflects what the City's HOME-STAT (Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams) outreach teams—doubled in size when the program was launched in 2016—have been seeing on the ground.

"It can take dozens or more contacts to convince street homeless New Yorkers to come in off the streets and subways and into shelter. Homelessness wasn't created overnight and won't be solved overnight, but thanks to the persistence of our outreach teams we're turning the tide on this decades-old challenge," said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

"Preventing and reducing street homelessness is a top priority for me and this Administration. We are coordinating resources across departments in close partnership with skilled community organizations for a true citywide strategy to identify and connect people living in our streets with the services and resources they need to get housed," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "It is a well-known fact that engaging unsheltered individuals takes focus and perseverance, but the results of this year's HOPE Count are encouraging. There is a lot of work ahead, but our efforts are panning out."

"As part of our comprehensive HOME-STAT outreach effort, outreach teams canvass the five boroughs 24/7/365, building the City's first-ever citywide by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to more effectively engage these individuals where they are by developing the trust and relationships that ultimately encourage these individuals to accept services and transition off the streets," said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. "Our by-name list changes in real time to reflect what outreach teams see citywide every day, with those teams actively connecting clients confirmed to be homeless with available resources while also working to engage 'prospective clients' or individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless and what services they may need. This year's estimate from the point-in-time survey reaffirms the success those teams have had in mapping and meeting the need citywide, with outreach teams actively engaging more than 1,600 known homeless individuals on the streets and in the subways and working to further connect with approximately 2,300 prospective clients to assess their living situations. Reaching, engaging, and building relationships with more and more individuals on the streets to ultimately help them access City services is how we have helped 1,815 people off the streets and out of the subways who've remained off the streets since the launch of HOME-STAT in 2016."

This year's count was conducted during a warm winter in New York City and amid a continued housing affordability crisis here and across the nation, with economic factors, including rising rents outpacing incomes, continuing to drive homelessness. This year, it was 37 degrees on the night the survey was conducted, with over ten inches of snowfall in the preceding 30 days. Similarly, in 2017, it was 40 degrees on the night the survey was conducted, with one inch of snowfall in the preceding 30 days; by contrast, in 2016, it was 28 degrees on the night the survey was conducted, with more than 30 inches of snowfall in the preceding 30 days. On the economic front, between 2005 and 2015, median household income in New York City increased by just 4.8% in real dollars while the median rent increased by 18.3% in real dollars. At the same time, New York City experienced a net loss of over 150,000 rent-stabilized units citywide between 1994 and 2012. While the city’s overall rental vacancy rate of 3.5 percent poses challenges for people of all incomes, renters only able to afford an apartment costing $800 or less must search in a market with a vacancy rate of just 1.15 percent in 2017, down from 1.8 percent in 2014.

Overall, the City is beginning to make progress towards addressing decades of increasing homelessness driven by economic inequality, including rising rents that have outpaced wages, and past inaction from prior administrations in Washington, Albany and New York City. Through the range of aggressive prevention and permanent housing initiatives implemented since taking office, this Administration is beginning to reverse the trend, with the DHS shelter census for 2017 remaining roughly flat year over year for the first time in more than a decade. Results of the 2018 HOPE survey similarly indicate that the number of people residing on the streets during the night of this point-in-time count has declined slightly, despite mild weather. These results demonstrate that the City's comprehensive strategies for addressing homelessness are taking hold.

"This estimate reflects what our HOME-STAT outreach teams see in their round-the-clock outreach efforts: our strategies are taking hold and we're making progress building the trust needed to help New Yorkers living on the streets and subways come indoors," said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. "Since launching HOME-STAT, the most comprehensive street outreach program in the nation, we have made unprecedented investments to support those New Yorkers who have fallen through every social safety net—doubling the number of outreach staff, tripling the number of Safe Haven beds for street homeless New Yorkers, and helping 1,815 homeless New Yorkers back into safe, stable housing. Every single homeless New Yorker who comes off the streets is an individual success and the result of an incredible, compassionate team effort. Together with our dedicated outreach partners, we will leave no stone unturned as we help more New Yorkers get back on their feet."

"This year, a record-breaking 2,700 New Yorkers participated in the HOPE survey effort, demonstrating New Yorkers' fundamental compassion for and commitment to supporting our neighbors in need," said Department of Homeless Services HOPE Survey Project Manager Annie Mabus. "The information they helped collect will provide our HOME-STAT outreach teams with additional insights that enable the City to continually develop and further target programming to most effectively serve and support New Yorkers experiencing street homelessness as they restabilize their lives."

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to ending homelessness. HOME-STAT encapsulates all of New York City's street homeless outreach efforts across the board—the most comprehensive outreach program in the nation—including the 24/7/365 citywide outreach effort, through which hundreds of highly-trained not-for-profit outreach staff, including licensed social workers, canvass the streets, proactively engaging homeless New Yorkers, offering services and assistance, and working to gain their trust with the goal of addressing the underlying issues that may have caused or contributed to their street homelessness in order to ultimately help these individuals transition off the streets.

With a dedicated not-for-profit provider for each borough (the Manhattan Outreach Consortium, led by CUCS, in partnership with Goddard Riverside and Breaking Ground, in Manhattan; Breaking Ground in Brooklyn and Queens; BronxWorks in the Bronx; Project Hospitality on Staten Island; and BRC in the subways), HOME-STAT outreach teams working around the clock across the five boroughs have helped more than 1,800 New Yorkers living on the streets come off the streets and subways into safe, stable housing since the launch of the HOME-STAT program in 2016. Helping street homeless New Yorkers to accept services, including shelter, does not happen overnight. It can take many months—5 months on average—to establish the trust that will encourage street homeless New Yorkers to accept assistance and come indoors.

UNPRECEDENTED INVESTMENTS ENHANCING 24/7/365 CITYWIDE OUTREACH EFFORTS:

Since 2014, the de Blasio Administration has committed unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers:

  • Helping more than 1,800 individuals off the streets who've remained off the streets since the launch of HOME-STAT in April 2016, with outreach teams increasing their average monthly placements by 51 percent year-to-date this fiscal year, achieving 276 placements per month.
  • More than doubling the City's investment in street homeless programs, increasing by more than from approximately $45M in 2013 to more nearly $100M today.
  • More than doubling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from 191 to nearly 400, with those dedicated staff spending months building relationships by making regular contact with street homeless New Yorkers to build trust and encourage them to accept services and transition off the streets.
  • Nearly tripling the number of beds dedicated to supporting street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, hundreds more coming online this year, and an additional commitment to another 250 beds, increasing the operating total from roughly 600 beds to nearly 1,800 beds.
  • Building the City's first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve delivery of services, with outreach teams now knowing more than 1,600 street homeless individuals by name and actively engaging approximately 2,300 individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless. With this information now the most accurate real-time reflection of what outreach teams see on the ground every day, the City is transitioning from quarterly estimates to reporting a summary of this more precise by-name information on a quarterly basis as local law now requires.
  • Increasing joint outreach operations with City Agency partners to utilize each Agency's expertise, engage more New Yorkers, and offer more supports, including expanding joint outreach operations with NYPD in Midtown, Manhattan to seven days per week.

Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets, is voluntary. It can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement and hundreds of contacts to successfully connect street homeless individuals with City services. Together, the City and not-for-profit outreach service provider partners remain undeterred in the ongoing effort to engage unsheltered New Yorkers proactively, offering services and support, until making the connection that will help them transition off the streets and out of the subways. HOME-STAT outreach teams continue to reach out to these New Yorkers to offer services and help them come indoors.

"As reflected by the data, and supported by the caring and effective strategies of BRC and our outreach provider colleagues, the de Blasio Administration's initiatives have helped address the needs of unsheltered individuals in our city," said Muzzy Rosenblatt, President and CEO, Bowery Resident's Committee (BRC). "BRC is proud of our staff who everyday contribute significantly to this outcome, for our clients and for our City, providing a hand up instead of a handout to individuals who need a safe place to stay. Each year, BRC's effective strategies enable New York's most vulnerable to move from the subways to more appropriate living situations. And we will remain vigilant in our efforts, so long as the need is there."

"The HOPE Count's results are testament to the unwavering commitment of CUCS and our partners to continue to reduce street homelessness in Manhattan," said Tony Hannigan, President and CEO, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS). "With an emphasis on medical and mental health services and a range of social service supports, our outreach teams are on the street 365 days a year, 24/7, working to get people off the streets and into housing. We are grateful to the Department of Homeless Services for its guidance and support to develop effective interventions."

"Breaking Ground is proud to work with the City and our partner non-profits to address the homelessness crisis in New York. Through HOME-STAT, we have significantly increased our outreach presence in Brooklyn, Queens, and a portion of Manhattan and opened new Safe Haven and transitional housing resources to reach more homeless New Yorkers, and bring them inside," said Brenda Rosen, President and CEO, Breaking Ground."We are encouraged by the new HOPE numbers, which match what our tireless and passionate outreach teams are seeing on the ground, and we are committed to continuing our work with the most vulnerable New Yorkers—because everyone deserves a home."

"It's a pleasure to work with the city to help people make the transition from homelessness to permanent housing," said Dr. Roderick L. Jones, Executive Director, Goddard Riverside."These collective efforts contribute to the growth and improvement of New York City."

"Today's results underscore the significant progress BronxWorks is making in moving individuals off of the street every day. The increased availability of beds in Safe Haven programs, which are low-barrier shelters that the Street Outreach teams refer to directly, has been a major part of this success," said Eileen Torres, Executive Director, BronxWorks."The increased funding to hire more outreach workers has also allowed us to strategically target areas where there may be more street homeless individuals. What doesn't show up in the numbers is that these additional resources has allowed our team to address the opioid overdose crisis amongst homeless individuals in a variety of ways including by providing Naloxone kits, to prevent fatal overdose, directly to individuals living on the street."

"We are grateful to DHS for the resources and support that has made it possible for the outreach teams on Staten Island to reach and help more every day, as we together we build capacity to reach our most vulnerable neighbors who need shelter in our borough," said Reverend Dr. Terry Troia, President and CEO, Project Hospitality."We continue to stand in the gap to catch more and more people who may lose their housing due to rising rents and low salaries. With more affordable and supportive housing, ending homelessness is a reality within reach in our borough and our city."

"Our HOME-STAT outreach teams are meeting New Yorkers and linking them to services at their most vulnerable—on the streets experiencing homelessness," said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the General Welfare Committee."The HOME-STAT program is a critical part of the multi-layered solution to connect New Yorkers to permanent and transitional housing like Safe Haven beds and supportive housing. I applaud the administration's continued investment in outreach services and comprehensive housing options. We know this work doesn’t happen in a vacuum—and in partnership with leading community providers like Breaking Ground and BronxWorks, the city is investing in building more housing options and linkages to care for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness."

For the most immediate response, New Yorkers who see individuals they believe to be homeless and in need should contact 3-1-1 via phone or mobile app and request outreach assistance.

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About the Department of Homeless Services:

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) works to prevent homelessness before it occurs, address street homelessness and assist homeless New Yorkers in transitioning from shelter and the street to permanent housing. DHS collaborates with not-for profit partners to provide temporary shelter and services that homeless New Yorkers need to achieve and maintain housing permanency. In April 2016 Mayor de Blasio announced a major restructuring of homeless services in New York City, followed by the release of a comprehensive plan in February 2017 to turn the tide on homelessness, neighborhood by neighborhood. The plan’s guiding principle is community and people first; giving homeless New Yorkers, who come from every community across the five boroughs, the opportunity to be sheltered closer to their support networks and anchors of life in the communities they called home in order to more quickly stabilize their lives. Learn more about how DHS is turning the tide on homelessness, neighborhood by neighborhood, at nyc.gov/tide.

About the City's HOME-STAT program:

The most comprehensive street outreach program in the nation, HOME-STAT (Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams) focuses on connecting individuals living on the street, who each have a unique path to the streets, with the unique combination of services that will enable them to transition off the streets. All street homeless outreach teams have licensed clinicians who work with clients on the streets. In addition to receiving on-going case management, people are assessed for immediate risk/crisis during each encounter. The teams also have psychiatrists who perform psychiatric evaluations on the streets and thereby help us understand and better meet the individual needs of each street homeless New Yorker. These clinicians and psychiatrists help our outreach teams connect with street homeless individuals who may be difficult to engage. Many have fallen through every available safety net, and experience trauma and challenges, including mental health and substance use challenges that may make outreach more complicated. Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets, is voluntary, but we remain undeterred in our efforts to engage them proactively and aggressively, and offering assistance and services, until we make the connection that will help them transition off the streets. Our teams continue to reach out to these New Yorkers to offer services and help them come indoors. HOME-STAT also provides aftercare services, continuing to work with individuals who receive placements to ensure that they receive the support they need to remain in housing and off of the street.