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NYC’s homeless population grows by 18%

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(The Center Square) — New York City’s homeless population has grown by nearly 18% in the past year despite Mayor Eric Adams’s efforts to reduce the number of people living on the streets.

A new report by the New York City Department of Homeless Services says a Jan. 24 survey counted 4,042 individuals sleeping on the Big Apple’s streets or in subways stations, an increase from 3,439 in the previous year.

The increase comes as the city’s homeless population has been compounded by a surge of asylum seekers arriving from the U.S.-Mexico border over the past year, pushing the city’s homeless shelter system to the brink.

As of Wednesday, the city was providing shelter to more than 81,000 individuals, according to a daily count by the city’s homeless agency.

But the rise in people sleeping on the streets comes despite Adams’ push to tackle the homeless crisis with stepped-up enforcement, sweeps of encampments and city outreach.

In a statement, NYC’s Social Services Commissioner Molly Wasow Park boasted that the city’s “intensified outreach efforts, bold solutions, and vital investments in specialized beds” has helped New York City maintain “one of the lowest rates of unsheltered homelessness of any other major U.S. city.”

“Over this past year, our agency has responded to a massive humanitarian crisis while ensuring that we are effectively delivering on our mission to address homelessness in New York City,” she said in a statement.

The agency touted “unprecedented investments” to expand the number of shelter beds and outreach services for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.

But a report by City Comptroller Brad Lander’s office last month found that Adams’ sweeps of homeless encampment sites between March and November 2022 “completely failed” to meet their primary goal of connecting homeless individuals with services.

Of the 2,308 people who were “forcibly” removed during the sweeps, only 90 people stayed in a shelter for more than one day, according to the audit.

As of Jan. 23, 2023, only 47 people remained in a shelter, and only three secured permanent housing, the report noted.

The report pointed out that of nearly 100 locations city officials swept in 2022, homeless people had rebuilt some form of encampment at 31 sites, they said.

A June report by the Coalition for the Homeless ripped Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul for “poor planning, misguided strategies, insufficient investment in permanent affordable housing, and bureaucratic ineptitude,” which have “left the city ill-prepared to manage the recent influx of new arrivals.”

The report gave New York City “F” grades for supporting unsheltered New Yorkers and helping them find permanent housing, while the state got an “F” for ensuring adequate capacity in the homeless shelter system.

“Until the mayor and governor get serious about creating enough new affordable housing specifically for those who need it most, New York will continue lurching from one crisis to the next, at a terrible human cost,” Dave Giffen, executive director at the Coalition for the Homeless, wrote in the report.

“The city would have had far more capacity to manage the current influx of new arrivals had there been serious efforts to help homeless New Yorkers transition into permanent housing.”

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