Agree to examine long-term changes to City’s homeless policy
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on April 14 announced an agreement with New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Gilbert Taylor to reduce by half the number of families at Freedom House, a homeless shelter for adult families on West 95th Street in Manhattan. Freedom House currently serves 400 adults in two residential buildings on West 95th Street.
Under the agreement, the shelter population will be reduced to 200 adults by November 1st, 2014 as part of an effort to create a better environment for shelter clients, building tenants and the surrounding community.
In 2012, DHS sited Freedom House as an emergency contract agreement in two residential buildings that were also home to 71 tenants in rent-stabilized units. The shelter is operated by Aguila Inc., a Bronx-based nonprofit that moved their offices to the Upper West Side when the shelter opened.
“With homelessness in the City at record highs and shelter costs through the roof, I’m gratified that City Hall has agreed to focus on long-term planning instead of the use of emergency procurement to operate shelters,” Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said. “The shelters at West 95th Street are emblematic of the problem with emergency contracts that are extended without community input or adequate oversight. We all need to work together to find solutions that take into account neighborhood views, the dignity and safety of our homeless, and the City’s budgetary needs.”
As part of the agreement, the Administration also committed to an ongoing dialogue around the way homeless services are delivered in New York City. The City pays over $3,000 per unit in many locations to provide shelter and social services in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) buildings, appealing to landlords who seek out lucrative city contracts. This money could instead be used to help subsidize rents, which would save the City money while putting homeless families on the path to self-sufficiency. The agreement to reduce the number of adult families at Freedom House will open up at least 100 units that could be used as affordable housing for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers.