To help combat homelessness, Mayor de Blasio announced the creation of HOME-STAT, an initiative to track and guide the homeless to available services and, ultimately, permanent housing via improved data collection, statistics and outreach.
HOME-STAT – Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams – will be the most comprehensive homeless outreach effort in a major American city, according to the mayor’s office, which added that the program will require no new funding as it operates from existing DHS resources.
The new initiative comes quickly after Tuesday’s resignation of Gilbert Taylor, de Blasio’s homeless commissioner, who left abruptly in a City Hall shakeup stemming from the city’s increasingly visible homeless problem, Newsday stated. De Blasio’s administration has suffered from a public perception that the mayor is incapable of handling the issue of homelessness.
In November, Gov. Cuomo’s spokeswoman said the state may step in because “it’s clear that the mayor can’t manage the homeless crisis,” Newsday reported.
The new program, which has a three-tier approach to addressing the issue of homelessness, will first provide a boots-on-the-ground database of citywide homeless statistics to provide current, accurate figures, the mayor’s office stated.
“Teams will inspect hotspots of street homeless activity by covering every single block from Canal Street to 145th Street in Manhattan and specially selected areas in other boroughs. We’ll have the most up-to-date, specific data on the street population we’ve ever had,” the mayor explained.
Second, the new initiative will incorporate a rapid response of less than one hour to handle non-emergency 311 calls regarding the homeless.
“Through HOME-STAT, we will ensure a professional is there within an average of one hour to address the problem,” de Blasio said of the program, which promises to grow outreach staff from the current 175 to approximately 312 by March 2016.
HOME-STAT will also create a centralized operation for working with the homeless, according to the mayor, that provides case managers with integrated access to HOME-STAT partner agencies, including DHS, the NYPD and NYC SAFE Hub, a central command for tracking mentally ill individuals with a history of erratic behavior.
“This is a fundamental change in how our city contends with a situation that has been intractable for so many years,” the mayor said. “We will be able to tell at any point in time exactly how many homeless New Yorkers are living on the street. And we will now have more resources and better resources to get them off the street to somewhere safer for everyone.”