What to Know
- The annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Survey found a 38% decrease in the estimated number of individuals living unsheltered in the Big Apple this winter, compared to the same time last year.
- The survey conducted in January 2021 found that 2,376 individuals were experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the streets of New York during week of Jan. 26.
- Comparatively, in 2020, more than 3,800 unsheltered individuals were estimated to be living unsheltered on the streets/subways.
The annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Survey found a 38% decrease in the estimated number of individuals living unsheltered in the Big Apple this winter, compared to the same time last year.
The survey conducted in January 2021 found that 2,376 individuals were experiencing unsheltered homelessness on the streets of New York during week of Jan. 26. This is a 38% decrease in the estimated number of individuals living unsheltered in the winter, compared to the point-in-time estimate conducted in January 2020, prior to the pandemic.
“A survey that documents a decrease in unsheltered individuals in New York is always welcomed news, but it should not deter us from the work that still needs to be done in this space,” Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Melanie Hartzog said. “As we continue to recover from the pandemic, New York City will create more opportunities for unsheltered individuals to build a solid foundation for themselves and create necessary housing stability. Utilizing resources from every corner of our City – from housing, to wellness and skills development – we are committed to closing these gaps.”
The results of the annual HOPE Survey depends on external factors that change year to year, like weather conditions. When the weather is colder, for example, there is usually fewer individuals surveyed on the night of HOPE, and the opposite when the weather is warmer, according to the NYC Department of Homeless Services.
In January 2021, the HOPE Survey took place when temperatures dropped as low as 21 degrees and did not exceed 35 degrees. Comparatively, in 2020, when more than 3,800 unsheltered individuals were estimated to be living unsheltered on the streets/subways, it was 40 degrees on the night the survey was conducted.
“The HOPE Survey is an important tool we use to check our work every year – and the survey conducted this winter continues to align with and affirm the efforts our outreach teams are making on the ground year-round,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said.
Since the launch of the HOME-STAT program in 2016, outreach teams have helped more than 4,200 New Yorkers experiencing unsheltered homelessness come off the streets and subways into transitional and permanent settings, according to the city.
"Since my administration launched the most comprehensive outreach program in the country, we have helped over 4,000 sheltered New Yorkers off the streets,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “From opening more beds to hiring more outreach workers, we have deepened our commitment to Journey Home in the face of an unprecedented health crisis. Together we will help more New Yorkers find their path to stability. That’s what a recovery for all of us looks like."
Overall, the city has created steps to help unsheltered New Yorkers to housing and services over the past years, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the last HOPE Survey was conducted in January 2020, the City has hired more outreach staff, provided outreach teams with new tools, and opened more than 1,300 specialized beds for unsheltered New Yorkers. The city says there are plans to create more beds.
Additionally, following the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s decision to shut down overnight service for the subway system due to the pandemic, the city built upon existing outreach programs to enhance overnight outreach efforts at end-of-line subway stations.