Study finds homelessness down by 38% across New York City; Brooklyn sees biggest decrease

On Jan. 26, the HOPE survey found that a total of 2,376 people were unsheltered. This is a 38% decrease compared to last January.

News 12 Staff

May 21, 2021, 9:46 AM

Updated 1,151 days ago

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The amount of people without homes is decreasing across New York City, according to an annual federal study.
The HOPE Count is a study that has been done every year since 2005. Its goal is to help the city understand how many people are struggling with homelessness.
On Jan. 26, the HOPE survey found that a total of 2,376 people were unsheltered. This is a 38% decrease compared to last January.
In the subways, the survey found a 23% decrease in unsheltered people.
Lower numbers have been seen across all five boroughs.
The biggest decrease is in Brooklyn, which is down 71%. The Bronx reportedly saw a decrease of 37%.
Mayor Bill de Blasio says these numbers show more people are taking the help that's offered.
"We know the X-factor here was more outreach, more beds. And the pandemic atmosphere, I think made a lot of homeless people think about their options in a different way," de Blasio said.
However, Giselle Routhier, the policy director at the Coalition for the Homeless, says, the HOPE Count survey numbers are not 100% accurate.
Routhier says there were a multitude of obstacles this year with numerous sweeps done in response to encampment complaints.
As well, she says the shutdown of the subway overnight amid the pandemic may have led many to seek shelter in not so easy to find spots, causing canvassers to get an inaccurate picture when they went to public areas to conduct the survey.  "The numbers do not accurately reflect reality, so it's shameful that the city is using them to tout success," she says. "We know for certain there are far more homeless on the streets than what that count reflects."
Mayor Bill de Blasio says since 2019, the city has tripled the number of outreach staff. He also says the city has increased to 3,000 specialized beds after it added 1,300 in the middle of the pandemic by using hotel space.
Still, Routhier says, "In the vast majority of cases, people are still just solely being offered transportation to a shelter. Only a small minority of folks are being offered those low threshold single occupancy hotel rooms and safe haven type facilities.” As the city moves to fully reopen by July 1, the mayor says the city needs to move people struggling with homelessness out of the hotels and back into shelters.
While a date hasn't been set yet for when this may happen, Routhier says it wouldn't be safe. "We need the city to be really responsible here and make sure decisions are not made in advance of what is the safest outcome," she says. "The solution is, and has always been, housing."
Routhier suggests the city raise the rent levels for the housing vouchers given. She is also calling on the city and state to speed up production of supportive housing for those with mental illness.


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