Mayor Eric Adams announced Sunday the largest investment made by any city administration to combat homelessness.
Adams stated that his administration will add more than $170 million in the fiscal year 2023 executive budget to provide what he says will be high-quality services and resources for homeless New Yorkers.
The announcement comes as his administration works to dismantle homeless encampments across the city and move the homeless out of the subway system. Both efforts drew criticism among advocates and homeless people, many of whom said they don’t want to be forced back into city-run homeless shelters that have proven unsafe in the past.
But Adams said the funds will be used for “safe haven” and supportive housing beds that offer residents a peaceful and stable environment in which to rebuild their lives. It is an effort to build trust among homeless residents so that they accept the help that the city offers them.
“This is not one and done. This is a baseline that each year will have the funds that will include expanded outreach efforts to connect those in need with specialized resources,” said Mayor Adams. “This funding will help expand these efforts, including safe shelters, stabilization beds and drop-off centers. These are the things that people have consistently said these are the things that you need to do so now here’s the partnership all elected officials all advocates state we want these kind of beds we’re telling you please join to us, you know, join us, we’re not going to overly saturate a community with the beds that we’re looking for because historically we have. We’re not going to do that. This is a New York City issue, so New York City needs to make sure this happens right.”
When the sweeps began, the number of people who increased the reach of homeless services was in the single digits, now Adams boasts that the numbers have risen to more than 700. He claimed that this new investment will fund 1,400 beds of stabilization and low-barrier safe shelter, bringing the total to more than 4,000 beds and promises to “aggressively” expand and improve outreach efforts.
After what have been weeks of ferocious evictions from homeless encampments, including NYPD officers arresting homeless people trying to save their precarious homes from being destroyed, the mayor is now vowing that the process is about building trust.
Responding to a question from amNewYork Metro about whether he believes this investment can prevent a revolving door of arrests and rebuilt encampments, the Mayor believes the key component of this investment and that trust.
“So when you have ten people who say: we are not living on the streets like this anymore, and two of the ten decide that now we are going to find another place. Sometimes we miss the eight. The eight that have made the decision, either they didn’t want to go home or they’re going to take us to our safe havens, or they’re going to find other ways to make sure we have adequate housing and then we’re going to go back to both of us we’re going to continue generating confidence. We have an amazing group of people on the street every day building that trust,” Adams said. “We are showing compassion, caring, and we have to build ourselves to trust.”
Not everyone was satisfied with this announcement.
Members of Anarchy Row, a homeless encampment outside Tompkins Square Park, have faced a revolving door of deportations and arrests as they struggled to keep their homes. Johnny Grima showed scrapes and cuts left over from his three arrests, while Kevin Parker said the stress of the raids contributed to his heart attack, and now that they don’t have their tents they don’t have enough means to stay comfortable. This is why they say they are skeptical of being able to gain trust.
Grima also told amNewYork Metro that he was skeptical about the investment and the new beds it will bring. Citing previous experiences, Grima says that he was not treated like a human being in previous shelters.
Still, your opinion of the city’s help would change if the help turns out to be really helpful and supportive.
“You know, they treat you like you have no rights, the staff treat you with disdain. If they changed their policy to include your own bathroom and kitchen area and you could sign a lease so you have tenant rights and they can’t fire you, then I would consider it,” Grima said.
Shams DaBaron, also known as the homeless hero, has also experienced homelessness since he was a child, moving from foster care to the streets of New York. He has recently been working with Adams giving his opinion on the crisis. He now applauds the mayor for this investment.
“I was that person you see on the street and in the subway. I had nowhere to go. I looked for help. But help for me was hard to find. I saw myself descend further into a place of disconnection. I felt that the so-called system had failed me in its duty to protect and care for me as a child and created problems for me as I grew into adulthood. I came to distrust the system. As many of my peers do. However, today I am proud to say that this will no longer be the case. Not for me or for my brothers and sisters who live on the streets,” DaBaron said.
“I am not fighting for my brothers and sisters to be on the streets, in the subway or in the camps. I fight for them to be treated with dignity, respect, care and compassion. I fight for them to be housed, but on that journey to housing they will have a better option than those congregate settings,” DaBaron added, sharing that there will be workers that homeless people can interact with who will help provide safe shelter and stabilization. . , as well as medical and mental health services through initiatives of the mayor.
DaBaron believes that with the funds the Mayor is putting toward creating more beds and resources, better opportunity and change will come, especially with the support of all levels of state and federal government.