Adams Adds $171M for Homeless Services to Proposed City Budget

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Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday announced a plan to pump $171 million into the city’s shelter system that would create 1,400 new beds to address homelessness in New York City.

The plan would also fund other outreach efforts to help people off the streets, but so far has done little to quiet criticism regarding the forced removal by New York Police Department of homeless encampments while offering shelter services to those being displaced.

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“New York City must ensure that this is happening correctly. And so, we are making sure that we have safe spaces for New Yorkers to live, to heal, to heal and to be cared for,” Adams said Sunday. “The investment will help fund 1,400 low-barrier haven and stabilization beds, bringing the total up to 4,000. Now, the previous administration talked about these beds. We are funding these beds, which is a big difference.”

Despite the optics of the sweeps, many leaders in the real estate industry have supported the effort by the Adams administration to resolve a problem that sends “the wrong message about our city,” Commercial Observer previously reported.

But only 9,000 unique individuals accepted referrals to shelters between May 2020 — when the city and state began forcing unhoused people out of the subway system — and the end of last year, according to Dave Giffen, executive director of Coalition for the Homeless, who was hesitant to praise the funding effort completely on its face.

“More Safe Havens and stabilization beds are a good thing,” Giffin said in a statement. “But they will fill up fast, and in the absence of any real permanent housing options for their residents, they will stay filled, as more of our neighbors fall into homelessness and take their place on the streets . “Homeless New Yorkers want and need shelters that offer the safety of private rooms, adequately trained staff and a pathway to a real home. The number of private rooms, and the actual number of truly new beds in the plan is unclear, and should be published and tracked.”

Giffen also objected to Adams’ “shameful and counterproductive” use of cops and sanitation workers to remove homeless camps, claiming the practice further violated trust that needs to exist between social workers and unhoused individuals. He even indicated that it contradicts guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

Nonetheless, “building trust” was central to the message amplified by Adams during his announcement of the funding. And not everybody was against Adams’ new funding.

“This $171 million investment in solutions that can better help support unhoused New Yorkers transition from homelessness is the right approach and a major step forward for our city,” City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said in a statement. “Safe Havens, stabilization beds and drop-in centers with health care services, along with care-centered street outreach, should be the consistent focus of the city’s efforts directed to our unsheltered neighbors.”

But the funding, which would not be allocated until the fiscal year 2023 budget goes into effect, will not take homeless individuals far without more investment, according to Housing Works CEO Charles King.

“We believe that most homeless people living on the streets and in our subway system will welcome Safe Havens and stabilization facilities as an alternative to congregate shelters, where many homeless people have experienced violence,” King said in a statement. “But these folk then need to transition to permanent housing with the type of support that will allow them to stay housed. Adequate supportive housing will require a much more significant investment of both capital and operating dollars from New York City.”

Adams said his policy differs from that of former Mayor Bill de Blasio because it doesn’t continue the use of hotels for temporary housing or the Turning of the Tide on Homelessness in NYC initiative, which aimed to establish one homeless shelter in each community board district.

De Blasio-era plans for shelters met heavy resistance from community leaders such as Councilmember Bob Holden — who held many rallies opposing one in Glendale, Queens — and Chinatown residents currently fighting a planned shelter on Grand Street.

In 2021, the Independent Budget Office showed in a report that the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) spent $3 billion on attempts to bring unhoused people in from the streets.

By the end of December 2021, there were a reported 45,299  single adults, families with children, and adult families in shelters, according to City Limits, which cited figures from DHS.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.