Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

Homelessness

Homelessness

  • apt con per

    A scene from the Bronx (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The number of military veterans experiencing homelessness in the United States was cut nearly in half between 2010 and 2016, the result of a focus on veterans’ homelessness by the Obama administration.  

    This focus included: ...

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    New York City (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Well before the beginning of the pandemic that has turned life upside down, New Yorkers already faced a devastating affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Even without the dramatic wave of unemployment brought about by a global pandemic, low-income tenants and homeless people across the city faced a grave lack of truly affordable housing and the absence of an effective citywide plan to fix it. Now, of course, the crisis has deepened, with tenants who have long lived paycheck to paycheck

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    Mayor de Blasio at a homeless shelter (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    “We’ve opened shelters in communities that have never had shelters before,” New York City Social Services Commissioner Steve Banks said in October, at an online event hosted by New York Law School that took place amid controversy over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s decision to move homeless men from the Lucerne Hotel on the Upper West Side after uproar from some local residents.

    Banks alluded to the de Blasio administration’s “Turning the Tide” initiative, a plan to

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  • marsha house lgbtq

    Housing is the focus (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    Over the next several months, New York City will continue deciding how to disperse roughly $34 million in federal Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) and related funds that are available for the current period. However, at this juncture, the magnitude and intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects suggest strongly that going forward the money should go to community-based groups focused on meeting two urgent needs: relieving hunger and preventing homelessness. 

    CSBG funds are made available

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Eight mayoral candidates participated in a recent forum focused on public and private housing, and homelessness. The December 5 event, which was part of the 15th annual West Side Tenants' Conference, featured Brooklyn City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, entrepreneur Joycelyn Taylor, former city Sanitation

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    Top (l-r): Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Kathryn Garcia, Carlos Menchaca
    Bottom (l-r): Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, Joycelyn Taylor, Maya Wiley


    Eight Democratic candidates for New York City mayor running in the June 2021 primary appeared by Zoom on Saturday to discuss public housing, private housing, homelessness, and the issues and policies that connect them all. The candidates offered their thoughts on current policies, offered their ideas for the future, and discussed what they would do if they were mayor today. Participants were Carlos Menchaca, Eric Adams, Dianne Morales,

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  • mastro home vandalism lucerne homeless shelter controversy

    Vandalism at the home of Randy Mastro, the author


    It happened two weeks ago in the dead of night. More than a dozen people wearing hoods and masks arrived on bicycles outside my family's Manhattan residence and proceeded to vandalize it.

    In premeditated, coordinated fashion, the perpetrators spray-painted, in bright red and black using cut-out stencils, profanities and slogans, such as ""F**k You Randy," "Prick," "Randy Mastro You Can't Displace Us," "No Room For NIMBY's," "Shame," and "Housing Is A Human Right," on the

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  • back ch ric

    Remote learning in action (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Amid widespread criticism about a lack of internet access for students in homeless shelters who need to get online more than ever to complete their school work, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would equip every shelter with WiFi. But advocates are raising questions about execution of that pledge, especially as tens of thousands of students living in shelters need internet access now in order to engage in remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Despite de Blasio’s promise, issued

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  • city wilnon dev

    Mayor de Blasio addressing housing plans (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New York City’s recent refusal to stand up to wealthy Upper West Siders is just another instance in an unending pattern of failures on housing and homelessness. 

    The saga of the Lucerne is emblematic of the interplay between the powerful and the powerless in New York City. In an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, the de Blasio administration (after fierce advocacy from the Homeless Can’t

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    Mayor de Blasio & Council Member Rosenthal at a town hall (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayor's Office)


    September 2, 2020 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Controversy Over Homeless Shelters on the Upper West Side

    City Council Member Helen Rosenthal and Melissa Sanchez of Upper West Side Open Hearts Initiative joined the show to discuss the controversy around new homeless shelters on the Upper West Side.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter ...

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    (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    I spent a good portion of my childhood and adolescence around the intersection of West 79th and Amsterdam, whether it was with my parents or friends’ parents at Bagels & Co., or picking up snacks at the Duane Reade or Insomnia, or covertly eating non-kosher at Island Burgers. So it has been deeply saddening for me to see such a cornerstone of my neighborhood be turned into a rallying cry for reactionary hatred. The temporary sheltering of a few hundred homeless people in the Lucerne, the Belleclaire, and the Belnord is the least

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    The mayor carrying out the HOPE count (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    It’s a shame that the city’s well-intentioned efforts to stop COVID-19 from spreading throughout homeless shelters turned negative so quickly. After relocating thousands of shelter residents into hotels on the Upper West Side and Midtown, Mayor Bill de Blasio is now reversing course in response to community uproar.

    The mayor’s reversal is a stopgap measure, because the reality is that with a second wave of covid expected this fall, a similar drama will likely rear its head. So,

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    Food distribution during the covid crisis (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    COVID-19 has taught us painful lessons about inadequate disaster preparedness and a vulnerable health-care ecosystem. In the midst of access obstacles, insufficient resources, and a limited federal response, a virus of moderate virulence and lethality has taken an appalling toll — over 140,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 including more than 700 health-care workers. Local providers and governments have had to scramble and improvise to manage the onslaught to prevent an even worse

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  • city working dev

    Housing discrimination must be addressed (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    In January 2015, I was released from a federal prison in California with the clothes I came in with, a few personal possessions I’d collected over the six years I had been incarcerated, and a bus ticket back to New York City. After a six-day journey home, I found myself subletting a room from a family friend – and as long as the rent was paid on time, they did not ask questions. Living in this apartment allowed me to find employment, cultivate relationships with my family, and continue pursuing

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  • jewish com council greater rosh

    New York City school children (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    As thousands of demonstrators march through the streets of New York City calling for an end to police brutality and equality of opportunity for people of color, and we are on the verge of sending our children back to school of some kind, it is time that we focus on the most vulnerable people of color, and that is homeless children.

    The organization Advocates For Children estimates that there are 114,000 homeless students in the New York City school system and that

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  • public outreach homes

    Mayor de Blasio with homeless outreach (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    As the city gradually reopens, we’ve seen many homeless New Yorkers kicked off the subways without being offered a safe, private alternative place to sleep. In some recent cases, we have seen police officers use unacceptable violence to drag homeless New Yorkers off the train. Fortunately, after repeated calls from homeless New Yorkers and advocates,

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    Homeless outreach workers approach a person in the subway (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    As the city has been focused on the coronavirus crisis the attention concerning homeless people has been the growing number of them in the subway system, it is time we examined what is happening within the vast and very expensive shelter system that is costing $2 billion a year.

    As a former Deputy Commissioner with the New York City Department of Homeless Services I can tell you that there are three types of shelters. There is the single adult system, the adult

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    Mayor de Blasio makes a housing announcement (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In the wake of the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus shutdown, Mayor de Blasio must find budget savings anywhere he can, while still advancing his mission to make New York “the fairest big city” in America.  

    It won’t be easy. But the sudden drop in tax revenue should not stop the mayor from continuing to make one smart investment: creating new affordable housing.

    With the pandemic exposing the full extent of the city’s homeless crisis, now is

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  • flushing amid pandemic

    Governor Cuomo disinfects a subway car (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    The subway is New York’s circulatory system. If it doesn’t recover, New York won’t. But reopening the subway and the city means more than running more trains: It also means helping homeless New Yorkers who today have nowhere else safe to go.  

    That is because, as Governor Cuomo demonstrated, the city’s transit crisis is too entwined with its housing crisis for the MTA alone to bring the subway back. In response to the rising number of New Yorkers with no choice

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  • illegal hotel int

    Homeless New Yorkers must be cared for amid the coronavirus (photo: mayor's office)


    Last week we learned of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to move an additional 2,500 New Yorkers living in crowded shelters into hotel rooms by the end of April. While this may help some people escape the dangers of COVID-19, it simply does not meet the need.

    For tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers, virtually all of the protocols to prevent contracting and spreading coronavirus are impossible. Homeless people, by definition,...

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    Mayor de Blasio at a supportive housing site (photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office)


    As our great city faces its most challenging crisis in the past 100 years, it has revealed to all of us how the city has radically changed in the past few decades.

    The virus has now put a spotlight on the critical shortage of hospital beds and medical equipment like ventilators. In fact New York City ICU bed capacity ranks in the bottom quarter nationally. If you have lived in the city for over 40 years, as I have, you likely recall how many hospitals have

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  • bellevue hos

    (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    What happens when a historic pandemic collides with an unprecedented housing crisis? The inextricable link between housing and health is now more apparent than ever as doctors both care for critically ill patients with the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, and simultaneously scramble to make plans for the most vulnerable in our society who simply have no place to isolate.

    Only a few weeks into this crisis, we have seen numerous patients recuperating from COVID-19 who linger for days in the hospital because of their need for

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  • census julie

    Efforts continue to get every New Yorker counted in 2020 Census (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    New York City has reached a first-of-its kind agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau to transfer data on the city’s sheltered homeless population in a way that is intended to negate the need for census enumerators to perform their own separate count.

    Through the agreement, which was described to Gotham Gazette by an official from the city’s census office, the city will compile data on the roughly 60,000 people expected to be sheltered at around 650 sites in

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    A push for a new state homelessness-housing voucher continues (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    As a doctor in the hospital, I bear witness to some of the most severe downstream effects of health inequity in our community. In my field, I care for any person who presents to the emergency room and is then deemed too sick to be discharged. Through years of clinical service, I have come to appreciate housing as the most vital component of a person’s ability to stay well.

    More recently, research surrounding individuals experiencing homelessness has

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  • thomas baxter report

    (photo: William Alatriste/City Council)


    Imagine the reaction if the number of deaths within a particular neighborhood or among a certain ethnic, racial, or religious group had gone up by 40% in one year! There would be demonstrations on the steps of City Hall and the Mayor would be forced to respond.

    Unfortunately, that is what has happened among the city's homeless population. Between July 2018 and June of 2019, 404 people considered homeless in New York City died, according to ...