Since Mayor Bill de Blasio has come into office, there has been an increase in the number of homeless in New York City. The total levels stands at about 58,000, which is an increase of some 5,000 over the last couple years. Not only that in itself concerning, but a close look of the most recent data from 2016 shows that almost 70% of people living in the shelter system have children.
The housing crisis is getting worse. Not only is the cost of rent and other housing costs going up faster than incomes, but as this stat shows 5,000 more people now living in shelters is a major concern. Landlords are increasing rates in the city by almost 5% per year, and incomes nationally are increasing at about half that rate in 2016.
This increase in the number of shelter guests is occurring even thou the unemployment rate in the city is now under 6%. When more people are working, but are living in shelters as they can’t afford to be on their own, there is something wrong with that.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is now taking another step in order to try to reverse this trend. There are now various housing and welfare departments being merged together and new leadership being put into place. Starting in April 2016, Steven Banks will now be overseeing the combined resources of the Human Resources Agency as well as the Social Services Department. The hope is that by coordinating the agencies that additional support can be arranged for the neediest in the community.
In addition, by combining the groups, Mayor de Blasio estimates it will save almost $40 million dollars from the cities budget in 2016 and subsequent years. The groups will have their resources combined and streamlined, thus gaining efficiency. Ideally the savings will them be allocated to some of the emergency rent and housing programs in New York City, and hopefully reduce the number of people needing to turn to shelters.
Steven Banks will also try to streamline other benefits for the residents of the shelter. These 58,000 plus people often also need food, clothing, hygiene supplies, and much more. They often struggle with where to turn to for those other needs, so the combined agencies of Human Resources can better refer the homeless to those services.
With the shelter residents being made up of over 50% children, the agencies will also try to provide them the tools they need break the cycle of homelessness. Mayor de Blasio is planning on using the billions of dollars in the budget to ensure those needs are addressed as well. All of this, and much more, is being done to bring down the number of people that need to live in these shelters in the city.