Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics



  • Redefining Our Responsibility to Unhoused New Yorkers

    Subway outreach (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The recent death of Jordan Neely, an unhoused New Yorker living with mental illness, is a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of those living on the streets. It also raises critical questions for each of us to consider about our responsibility to our fellow New Yorkers. Homelessness is a policy failure, not a personal one. It's time we base our societal response around that fact.

    For years, unhoused New Yorkers have been subject to stigmatization and

  • 'It's Incumbent on the State To Do This': Lawmakers ‘Optimistic’ Housing Access Vouchers will be in Budget Deal

    A place to call home (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    As Governor Kathy Hochul tries to convince the Legislature to support her ambitious housing agenda focused on increasing the supply of homes, legislators seem unwilling to do so without including in a state budget deal major protections for current tenants including a new rental voucher program.

    The Housing Access Voucher Program (HAVP) would provide state-funded rental subsidy vouchers to those experiencing homelessness or facing evictions and at risk of homelessness, regardless of immigration status. The bill is sponsored by

  • There’s Nothing Unsafe About the New Safe Haven Coming to the Upper West Side

    Looking for shelter (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As an Upper West Side resident, I’ve heard a lot of discussion recently about plans for a Safe Haven on West 83rd Street. While many of my neighbors have expressed excitement about this new neighborhood resource, others have voiced concerns about its potential impact on the safety of our neighborhood.

    I’m a former prosecutor and an advocate for survivors of crime and their families. I’m also a mom of three — two in New York City public schools and one in diapers. Believe me: I care about community safety. Yours, mine, my

  • New York Needs the Housing Access Voucher Program

    Celebrating housing policy (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)

    Of the almost600,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States on any given night in 2022, more than half of them were in one of four states -- New York, California, Florida, and Washington -- with New York alone accounting for 13% of the total homeless population, over 90,000

  • New York City Needs Housing for Everyone, Not More Shelter Beds

    Housing (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Faced with an influx of migrants, the main shelter system bursting at the seams, and skyrocketing rents, New York City Mayor Eric Adams

  • Homeless Children in New York City Need More Help to Recover from Trauma

    Gov. Hochul makes a school visit (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    According toAdvocates for Children of New York, over 104,000 children were homeless during the 2021-2022 school year. For the seventh year in a row, 10% of kids are experiencing homelessness in New York City. There are many causes of homelessness, but one

  • Hochul's 'SOS' Teams Begin Outreach to Homeless People in Subways

    Gov. Hochul & Mayor Adams discuss subway support teams (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Governor Kathy Hochul's Safe Option Support outreach teams have helped find "bed placements" for 150 homeless individuals living in the subways in their first six months of operation, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health.

    The figures, provided to Gotham Gazette after an inquiry, indicate some action by one of Hochul's first major mental health and public safety initiatives as governor, amid rising homelessness and street violence. They also raise more questions about whether

  • Public Advocate Releases Plan to 'End Systemic Homelessness' in New York City by 2026

    Public Advocate Williams and Committee members on Friday (photo: @nycpa)

    A coalition led by New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has released a four-year roadmap to “ending homelessness as we know it,” proposing several strategies to help the roughly 55,000 unhoused people in the city move into stable, affordable housing.

    Williams, a Democrat, released the new report alongside housing experts and individuals impacted by homelessness outside his Manhattan offices on Friday. He said that mayoral administrations have often focused on moving homeless people from the streets and subways into

  • As Albany Continues to Abandon Homeless New Yorkers, California Considers New Solutions

    Health and housing are tied (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As roughly 50,000 men, women and children sleep in a New York City homeless shelter each night and the number of people living unsheltered on the streets and subways has increased, the powers that be in Albany bear a large portion of the responsibility for the current state of affairs. It is time that we take a long hard look at what state government has done in this regard instead of putting all the blame on City Hall.

    According to the very

  • Little Being Done to Address New York’s Prison-to-Shelter Pipeline

    A housing rally (photo:John McCarten/City Council)

    Two out of five people returning to New York City from prison last year were released to a shelter or another placement for homeless adults, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS). At roughly 2,050 people, it was enough to fill the largest hotel in midtown Manhattan. They often ended up sleeping on the streets.

    Those inside the so-called prison-to-shelter pipeline say cycling through the criminal legal and shelter systems is destabilizing and dehumanizing as they attempt to reenter

  • To Truly Address Homelessness, New York City Must Take on Housing Voucher Discrimination

    Welcome home (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    In 2021, the values of New York City's largest housing voucher program, known as CityFHEPS, were significantly raised.This victory, passed by the City Council and Mayor de Blasio, was accomplished thanks to the tireless efforts of housing advocates and opened up tens of thousands of new housing units for tenants holding these vouchers — among the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

    We must

  • Thinking Anew About How to Finally Solve Family Homelessness in New York City

    The makings of a community center (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    After 35 years running a non-profit service provider in New York City that served over 65,000 homeless families and 135,000 children, I have retired. I never could have imagined that the homeless situation in the city today would still be worse than when it all began in the 1980s. Back then, I served as First Deputy Commissioner for Homelessness in the Koch administration. After all that time, l have seen and learned a great deal about family homelessness. 


  • New York’s Endangered Subways

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    On the subway (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    My friend and I had left the theatre on 42nd Street around 11 p.m. on a recent beautiful night. We walked peaceably to catch our usual #1 train at Times Square—the station where a young woman, Michelle Go, had been pushed to her death in front of a train by an apparently deranged, homeless man just days earlier.

    The platform was packed but the train, also packed, came quickly. Almost immediately we sensed something was wrong, as people shifted uncomfortably and looked to the

  • Time to Act: Opportunity to Address Homelessness and Safety in Midtown is Slipping Away

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    Mayor Adams discussing hotel conversions in Brooklyn (photo: @ericadamsfornyc)

    Mayor Adams recently unveiled an ambitious plan to help New Yorkers living on the streets and subways by expanding access to critical social services. In the 32 years Breaking Ground has worked with this population, it has become plainly clear that our homelessness crisis is a complex public health concern that requires multiple points of service delivery to be cohesive and collaborative.

    But, in order to produce the outcome we need to help the city’s most vulnerable, we must

  • How New York City Can Make Supportive Housing Key to Ending Family Homelessness


    Supportive housing (photo: @newdestinyorg)

    As Mayor Adams wraps up his first month on the job, one of the most daunting issues he’ll have to address is the city’s homelessness crisis. Within this larger crisis, an often-unseen demographic is particularly in need of urgent action – families with children, the largest segment of people experiencing homelessness.

    While there has been a dip during the pandemic in the number of families experiencing homelessness, New York City still leads the nation in family homelessness with an estimated

  • Quick, Key Steps the New Mayor Can Take to Help Homeless People and the Whole City

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    Help in the subways (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    As he takes over New York City government, one fact new Mayor Eric Adams seems to know is that it is not OK to allow homeless people living on the streets and in the subway system to vegetate and sleep in filthy conditions. Many people in these situations obviously have serious mental health and physical health issues in dire need of attention.

    Several steps must be taken as quickly as possible, to help these individuals and to make the city a safer, cleaner, more livable

  • Steven Banks on 'Welfare' Reform, Fighting Homelessness, and the De Blasio Record

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    Steven Banks, left, with Mayor de Blasio (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)

    As the de Blasio administration comes to a close, the mayor and his top commissioners have been reflecting on their legacies. Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly said over the years that his biggest failure was on homelessness, acknowledging that he did not fully grasp the degree of the problems involved and the necessary solutions. He has said in recent weeks that he believes the administration started to really get things moving in the right direction as his

  • Max Politics Podcast: Commissioner Steve Banks on the De Blasio Administration's Social Services Record

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    NYC Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    December 20, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: Commissioner Steve Banks on the De Blasio Administration's Social Services Record

    Steve Banks, who has led major social services and homelessness efforts under Mayor Bill de Blasio for the entire eight-year administration, joined the show to discuss the reforms he's ushered in and the administration's record on public benefits, homelessness, and more.

    Listen to the

  • Members of a Community: Opposition to Local Shelters Leaves Vulnerable Families Even Worse Off

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    Finding homes for everyone (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)

    On October 29, the New York City Department of Social Services sent a letter to Brooklyn Community Board 11 providing notification of a planned homeless shelter to be built in Bensonhurst. The facility would be for 75 families with children, with priority given to those “who have roots in this community and this area of Brooklyn more broadly.”

    Brooklyn CB11 and neighboring CB10 encompass Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Dyker Heights, and Bay Ridge. These community districts

  • Governor Hochul, Now’s the Time to Give Domestic Violence Survivors Real Rental Support

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    Ready for a bill-signing (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)

    Even before the pandemic, domestic violence was a leading cause of family homelessness in New York City, where a majority of shelter residents are single women of color and their children. In large part, this is

  • Taking 'Housing is a Human Right' from Slogan to Reality

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    New Yorkers in search of affordable housing (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    With the rights of those experiencing homelessness being debated - or disregarded - in the move from hotels back to congregate shelters, homeless New Yorkers declared July Homeless Rights Month, forcing our leaders to reckon with those often ignored in our policy debates, simply because they don’t have a permanent address. While the United Nations has ...

  • Doctors to Mayor: Halt the Transfer of Homeless New Yorkers from Hotels to Shelters Now

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    New Yorkers

    As most New Yorkers adjust to enjoy newly vaccinated and unmasked social lives, many of the city’s most medically vulnerable – homeless individuals who through painstaking work by many advocates were able to secure safe, secure hotel rooms for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic – remain in unnecessary peril. At City Hall’s whim, they are being sent back en masse to congregate living facilities that, with the rise of the much more transmissible Delta variant, may become hotbeds of viral transmission even among the fully vaccinated

  • Homeless Young Adults Must Have Equal Access to Housing in New York City

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    A discussion with young adults (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photograph)

    New York City Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) shelters and drop-in centers are specifically designated for youth and young adults ages 16-24. Yet, those same youth, when between the ages of 18-24, are not eligible to receive housing vouchers unless they move into a Department of Homeless Services (DHS) adult shelter. For its entirety, the de Blasio administration has withheld critical housing vouchers for young people in DYCD programs rather than

  • Democratic Mayoral Candidates Discuss Taking on Family Homelessness

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    Shelter in the Bronx (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    Tens of thousands of parents and children are living in city shelters. Some of the worst effects of the pandemic may not be felt until the next mayor is in office in 2021, when New York City and State may have to reckon with the fallout from an expiring eviction moratorium, mass income losses, and diminishing federal stimulus.

    Three of the front-runners for the Democratic nomination for mayor -- civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, city government veteran Kathryn Garcia, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang --

  • Seeking to Influence Mayor's Race and Solve Social Issues, Advocates Offer 'Caring & Compassionate New Deal for NYC'

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    Housing rally (photo: John McCarten/City Council)

    An advocacy group that has spent decades fighting for the “defunding of harmful systems” is issuing a call to action to New York City’s political class to reorient city government and pursue permanent solutions to longstanding issues of home lessness, substance use, mental health, criminalization, and