New York City Advocates Release Roadmap to Ending Homelessness, Urge Incoming City Leaders to Embrace Solutions

United to End Homelessness (UEH), a New York City-based coalition of homeless advocates, providers, homeless and formerly homeless individuals, and faith leaders, is urging its next Mayor and City Council to employ proven solutions to prevent and end the city’s homelessness crisis. In its recently released A Roadmap to Ending Homelessness, UEH lays out a comprehensive approach to do so. Advocates hope the briefing book will motivate the next administration to implement these well tested interventions immediately. The New York City elections will take place on November 5. The Supportive Housing Network in New York, an NLIHC State Coalition Partner, and its partners launched the UEH campaign in April to draw attention during the 2013 election season to New York City’s growing number of homeless individuals and families (see Memo, 4/19). More than 57,000 people, 22,000 of them children, sleep on the street or in shelters nightly, the largest homeless population ever recorded in the city, according to advocates. Expanding on UEH’s policy platform, the report covers national and local best practices, in addition to key governing councils needed to effectively carry out a plan.It costs $36,000 annually for a family to stay in a New York City shelter, but only $6,000 per family to prevent homelessness in the first place, according to UEH. It called on the City to use its limited resources more cost effectively to support such homeless prevention programs as legal services, eviction and foreclosure prevention, and after care services to help formerly homeless individuals remain housed. UEH’s research indicates that the state could save $67 million in shelter costs by providing an attorney to low income residents facing eviction. For example, a South Bronx pilot legal services program serving residents cost the city $450,000, yet saved approximately $700,000 in shelter costs. The report highlighted other preventive services like job training, day care, financial assistance and high level case management.In its report, UEH underscored the importance of housing to the long-term health and stability of the most vulnerable homeless individuals and families. It found that 48% of runaway homeless youth who engaged in commercial sex activities identified the lack of a safe place to sleep as the leading reason for their entry into prostitution and similar activities. The city has limited options for runaway homeless youth as shelters serving them are often full. Advocates have called for more services and programs geared toward this population.Placing individuals in supportive housing has been shown to reduce hospitalization rates by 29% and emergency room visits by 24%, UEG reports. Homeless children and adolescents struggle with physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development, and they are four times more likely to be sick than their non-homeless counterparts. UEH recommends a broad range of solutions to family homelessness, including increased affordable housing in private developments for extremely low income people, Public Housing and Section 8 vouchers, a city-based rental subsidy program, and more supportive housing for individuals and families, particularly those with special needs. In addition, UEH calls on the city’s incoming leaders to establish an Interagency Council on Homelessness to serve as the central authority to coordinate government, nonprofit, and consumer stakeholders to implement a comprehensive plan to end homelessness. Thirteen city agencies provide housing and homelessness services to New York City residents, but no agency coordinates the efforts. Advocates believe discussions on how to serve homeless people must be holistic and include agencies and stakeholders at the table. UEH has sent its briefing book to both mayoral candidates, Joe Lhota (R) and Bill de Blasio (D), and it has urged them to address the issues and support the platform. The campaign has engaged in Twitter and social media rallies and has received extensive media coverage in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Huffington Post, and New York Nonprofit Press, among others. In the days leading up to the election, the campaign’s focus has shifted to keeping the homelessness issue alive in the mayoral race. UEH also will assist in the transition process to ensure that the next Mayoral administration considers and administers its recommendations. “Our hope is that this briefing book provides the next administration with the research, ideas, and motivation to develop and start implementing a plan to end homelessness on day one,” said Nicole Branca, deputy executive director of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. “The driving philosophy behind the coalition and the briefing book is that people become homeless for myriad reasons; until there’s a more comprehensive approach—one that relies on multiple forms of interventions and focused on long-term solutions—our most vulnerable New Yorkers will continue to cycle in and out of homelessness.” Read A Roadmap to Ending Homelessness at: For more information, contact Soheil Rezayazdi, Supportive Housing Network of New York, at [email protected].