Homelessness skyrockets in New York City
NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - A new count of the New York City's homeless suggests the mayor's plan to get people off the streets isn't working.
Michael, a Desert Storm veteran, has been homeless for 3 years now. He said being outside is safer than being in any shelter. He said he trusts the people he is around and doesn't have to sleep with one eye open. Michael is one of a record number of homeless people now living on the streets.
An annual federally mandated survey conducted on February 6, 2017, found that 3,892 people were on the streets that night, a 39-percent jump compared to last year.
City officials have attributed the jump to the weather being unusually warm that night but New Yorkers we spoke to say they're seeing homeless people all year round.
"What we do know is that there are thousands of homeless people on the streets and that there are a record number of single adults in shelter," said Giselle Ruthier, the policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "For most of them [the solution] is supportive housing. So housing that is permanent, affordable, and with support services."
Last year, the federally mandated homeless census came in at 2,794. It was the second year in a row that the number dropped. But with the downward trend reversing course, Ruthier said the mayor and governor need to do more.
"The vast majority of people who are homeless are in shelter," Ruthier said. "We have 60,000 people -- men, women, children -- in shelter every single night."
The mayor's office has pledged 15,000 supportive housing units over the next 15 years. Bill de Blasio's office also released a statement: "While we know we have a lot more work to do, we are continuing to open more street homeless facilities and provide more programs for New Yorkers we are helping transition from the street to permanent housing.
As for Navy veteran Michael, he said anyone who thinks being homeless is a choice should try it for one night.
"We don't know what to do. We don't know where to turn," he said. "We don't ultimately know who to trust."