De Blasio Presses Administration for Answers on Plan to Cut Services for Street Homeless

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City Hall – Today, Councilmember Bill de Blasio joined Councilmember Gale Brewer, homeless advocates and service providers to oppose the Administration’s recent proposals to cut drop-in center hours and reorganize the faith-based network of shelters that serve the city’s street homeless. These proposals will lead to a reduction of 232 beds citywide, a 16.8% decrease from the current level.  Following the press conference, Councilmember de Blasio chaired a General Welfare Committee hearing where he pressed officials from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for answers on how its plan will impact homeless New Yorkers.

“Especially during these harsh winter months, we must ensure that our City’s most vulnerable homeless population – the street homeless – has adequate access to services and shelter.  Cutting drop-in center hours and restructuring the faith-based network will spell disaster for hundreds of New Yorkers in need,” said Councilmember Bill de Blasio, Chair of the Council’s General Welfare Committee.

“Any successful plan for restructuring services to the City’s Street Homeless population must take into consideration the experience of our volunteers and advocates in the faith based communities.  For decades, in partnership with the City, they have provided a crucial safety net for homeless individuals while enriching their own lives through dedicated service to those in need,” said Councilmember Gale A. Brewer.

At present, there are eight drop-in centers across the City, and approximately 56 faith-based respite bed centers, all of which will be impacted by two RFPs that DHS has issued.  The Administration is also still attempting to move the Bellevue central men’s homeless intake center from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

“The Legal Aid Society is concerned that homeless people will be left out in the cold with the Mayor’s plan,” said Judith Goldiner, Supervising Attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

“Faith-based shelters and drop-in centers provide unique and vital services to vulnerable homeless individuals who would otherwise sleep on city streets or in other public spaces. Coupled with their plan to move men’s shelter intake out of Manhattan, the city is proposing to make it more difficult for homeless New Yorkers to access services and shelter. As the city’s economic outlook only gets bleaker, this is the time to strengthen support for at risk New Yorkers, not pull the rug out from under them,” said Mary Brosnahan, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless.

“We are truly honored to be part of such an extraordinary group of faith-based institutions and volunteers who have devotedly served thousands of homeless New Yorkers for over 25 years through our Emergency Shelter Network”, said Arnold S. Cohen, President & CEO of The Partnership for the Homeless.  “And it’s most troubling that the Department of Homeless Services did not honor their work and show them the appropriate deference required to even include them in its processes; one that ultimately restructured the entire system.  DHS’ actions will only result in a significant loss of services at a time of great need, as well as a loss of committed volunteers who gave selflessly to some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers.”

(YWN Desk – NYC)