Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for a change in the city's homeless policies today.
In a Downtown Manhattan press conference, de Blasio wants Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to create a permanent plan to ensure Manhattan has adequate services for homeless adults. He also wants the city to fulfill its commitment to Section 8 voucher holders whose benefits were revoked last month.
He said something must be done to stop the increase in the number of homeless in the city.
"The numbers don't lie. This increase in the number of people in shelters is absolutely striking, profoundly troubling. And it's time to seek a new path," said de Blasio. "This to me is the essence of what the role of a public advocate is here to do, to point out these problems and put forward solutions, particularly when it comes to people who are vulnerable."
"These people are coming into the shelter system. They don't have a way to exit the shelter system," said Mary Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless. "And when you have that bottleneck at the back-end of the shelter system, you're just going to see these numbers continue to increase and increase. Since Mayor Bloomberg took office, there's been a 45-percent increase in homelessness in New York City. That's unacceptable."
De Blasio said city officials should stop referring homeless people to dwellings that fail to meet basic health and safety standards.
The commissioner for the Department of Homeless Services said the organization will not readopt failed past policies and will create effective and lasting solutions.