Number of New Yorkers sleeping on streets and subways rebounded to pre-pandemic highs

Number of New Yorkers sleeping on streets and subways rebounded to pre-pandemic highs

Quarterly data collected by DSS appears to align with Cash’s understanding. The number of unsheltered people entering temporary housing placements soared during the pandemic to more than 2,000 people in a single quarter, a level not previously seen by the city since it began reporting the number in 2018.

That figure started to drop off in the summer of 2021, as the city began closing hotels under the Bill de Blasio administration and relying more on congregate shelters, a practice that was continued by Adams. Advocates report that many people in the city who are street homeless do not utilize dormitory shelters due to safety concerns.

During each of the first two quarters of the Adams administration, just under 1,000 people were placed in some form of temporary housing, lower than the placement levels during the height of the pandemic.

“We can’t solve what we don’t measure,” Adams said in a statement. “The HOPE count is an important tool in our ever-growing toolbox to end homelessness and help set unsheltered New Yorkers on a path to stability and permanent housing.”

At the same time the administration has closed hotel accommodations, Adams has put an emphasis on clearing homeless New Yorkers from subways and encampments.

Through the end of May, city officials had visited encampments more than 1,000 times, according to Charles Lutvak, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, often targeting the same locations over and over again. Since mid-March, just 58 people living in encampments had gone into some form of transitional housing following a sweep. According to the mayor’s office, the city’s subway safety plan, which launched in February, resulted in more than 1,300 people being connected to some form of housing, the administration, however, did not provide information on how many of those people remained housed.

Adams has set aside $22 billion for housing over 10 years for affordable housing, including a promise to build 15,000 of the type of supportive housing apartments that homeless advocates say are necessary by 2030. Those investments will take years to come to fruition, and advocates argue the mayor should stop forcing people to abandon encampments without providing a better alternative in the near term.

“Mayor Adams must immediately halt his counterproductive, cruel sweeps that merely exacerbate trauma and push people further away from services,” said Jacquelyn Simone, policy director with Coalition for the Homeless. “[He] must instead offer all unsheltered New Yorkers the permanently affordable and supportive housing they want and need and greater access to safe, low-barrier shelters with private rooms.”

The mayor’s office did not immediately return a request for further comment.

People living on the streets account for just a fraction of the city’s homeless population. More than 60,000 New Yorkers were living in homeless shelters through April this year, according to a tally by the publication City Limits, which aggregated data from the city’s various shelter systems.

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