Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.
There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.
“After evaluating the first year of HOME-STAT, the most comprehensive street homeless outreach effort in the nation, we’re making enhancements that will enable our outreach teams to reach more New Yorkers living on the street, many of whom have fallen through numerous safety nets and are often resistant to accepting services," said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.
A milder winter and economic conditions are said to be key factors that attributed to the higher count of people sleeping on the streets. For example, rising rents are outpacing incomes, with median rents increasing just over 18 percent during that time, said the report.
However, homeless outreach providers say the lack of housing and shelter options are to blame.
The homelessness crisis has always been a sore point during Mayor Bill de Blasio's tenure, who aimed to reduce the number of homeless New Yorkers relying on shelter by spending over $2 billion for services like 360 more safe haven beds by the end of the year. The first 500 housing units will also be up and running this year, as part of de Blasio's housing plan.