New York officials make strides to help city’s homeless

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Homeless men, women, and families living in traditional shelters and corporate hotels across New York City could be on the cusp of brighter outlook, and a potentially faster track to independence.

“I think that New Yorkers want solutions. And the kinds of solutions that we’re putting into place are the kinds of solutions that should have been in place many years ago,” said Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks.

In just a few weeks— effective January 1, Human Resources Administration Commissioner Steve Banks will also be responsible for overseeing DHS, the Department of Homeless Services— because Commissioner Gilbert Taylor is on his way out.

Resigning, according to the Mayor.

Commissioner Taylor faced increased scrutiny over his agency - and his own performance following our November 17th interview with him.

The question now —will the overhaul, with new leadership at DHS, address the core issues at the heart of the homeless crisis, or simply put a band-aid on it?

Commissioner Banks held a round table at City Hall Wednesday to discuss the particulars.

“Getting people off the streets, into safe havens, and into supportive housing, is the way to get people off the streets,” said Commissioner Banks.

Dr. Ralph da Costa Nunez, CEO of the Institute for Children Poverty, and Homelessness says the only way to begin ending the homeless crisis - is to focus where it often begins.

“No one talks about families. No one knows that children are the largest population in the shelters today. They are the homeless. Nobody knows it’s the story of kids. Story of youth, story of education. The story of what’s going to happen to our city, because when they grow up, because they’re lost their youth, and the opportunity to complete their education, and now they’re going to become different set of problems. It doesn’t need to be that way,” said Dr. da Costa Nunez.

For taxpayers, just how the city houses homeless families will remain a concern, as long as DHS continues renting thousands of corporate hotel rooms, for much higher than the market rate, sometimes without any accompanying social services to those homeless families.

“It’s an issue that’s reflective of the buildup of people in need of shelter. That’s among the reasons why we want to put such priority on ensuring we can prevent every entry into shelter that’s possible,” said Commissioner Banks.