NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cardinal Timothy Dolan announced in the Bronx Wednesday a new city initiative to address homelessness.
The two said they are forming a partnership amid the pope's U.S. visit and are taking his advice.
"We have to honor Pope Francis, we have to heed the call," de Blasio said. "He's asking all of us, it doesn't matter what you are, doesn't matter what country you live in, he's asking all of us to do more to help those in need."
The mayor says the city will work with the Catholic church and provide up to 150 beds throughout New York, with an overall goal of 500 beds. So far, 300 beds have been pledged by religious officials, and the 150 pledged by the archdiocese are expected to be available by this winter.
De Blasio said that their safe haven approach will provide smaller, more intimate settings that will hopefully draw more people off the streets.
The safe haven approach also serves as another option to larger shelters, which in some cases are not comfortable for those struggling with mental illness or substance abuse issues.
The city will also provide occupants with in-house access to social services and counseling.