Mayor de Blasio Defends the Need for Both Shelters and Permanent, Affordable Housing for the Homeless
By Yehudit Garmaise
In last night’s debate, Eric Adams, the Democratic mayoral nominee pointed out that homeless shelters are very expensive to run and suggested that the money would be better spent on subsidies to create permanent, low-cost housing to help the homeless of New York City.
In August 2021, 47,979 people, a number that does not include the thousands of people sleeping in the streets, on subways, and in other public places, were sleeping in the city’s shelter system, reports the Coalition for the Homeless, which says that homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“The number of homeless New Yorkers sleeping each night in municipal shelters is now 23% higher than it was ten years ago,” the Coalition for the Homeless says on its website. “The number of homeless single adults is 103% higher than it was ten years ago.”
Of the 47,979, the majority of which suffer from mental illness says the Coalition for the Homeless, who were sleeping in shelters in August 14,881 were children.
Today, BoroPark24 asked the Mayor Bill de Blasio whether he agreed that public funds might be better spent on affordable, permanent housing than on the shelter system, which Adams said “are no good and a waste of tax-payers’ dollars.”
“We have to get out of the shelter business and get into the business of getting people permanent housing,” said Adams, who added that he would increase housing subsidies for families at risk of losing their homes, in addition to using a state law to get homeless people who can’t take care of themselves off the street, and partner the police with mental health professionals to move homeless people out of the subways.
In addition, research shows that a lack of affordable housing is the primary cause of homelessness, particularly among families, the Coalition for the Homeless reports.
Addressing the question about whether the city should spend money on shelters or on permanent housing, the mayor said, “We need to do both.
“We need transitional shelter because it plays a different role than when someone needs permanent, affordable housing.”
The mayor did acknowledge that he wants to “use less and less transitional shelter, as we get more and more people to affordable housing.”
Mayor de Blasio was not sure of the number, but he said that, in the last eight years, his administration has helped 170,000 New Yorkers, who were previously in shelters, to get permanent, affordable housing.
“We have been building at a record rate: permanent, affordable housing, preserving apartments and keeping them affordable on top of that,” the mayor said. “Those investments are constant. New York City has the biggest affordable housing plan.
“At the same time, when, G-d forbid, people’s situations are such that they don’t have places to live, we need to have places for them, so we can [then] help them on the way to permanent, affordable housing.”
The mayor then pointed out that many cities on the West Coast also have “tens of thousands of people living on the streets.”
“It is absolutely painful,” the mayor said. “It is unacceptable.”
“We have a right to shelter here. We don’t have anyone living on the streets, and we want to get people, as quickly as possible: permanent, affordable housing. We got to do both in New York City.”
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.