New York’s mayor has made a major change to the city’s homeless system, announcing that all New Yorkers who have been homeless for more than 30 days will now be entitled to help in the form of food, shelter, or housing.
The move, announced on Sunday by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, follows an outcry by the city over homelessness that resulted in the removal of homeless encampments and the city banning tent cities from its streets.
While de Blasio did not name the specific people who would be eligible for help, he said that it would include those who have not lived in the city for more, but who were “on the margins of society, living in temporary housing.”
“We’re now putting an end to a shameful, dangerous system of homelessness that harms too many people and harms New Yorkers,” de Blasio said in a statement.
“I’ve been a mayor for 40 years and I’ve been at the center of homelessness for many of those 40 years, and I know firsthand how difficult it is to put the right kind of resources into a system that is failing our most vulnerable,” deBlasio added.
“That’s why today, I am making the commitment to provide an immediate $15,000 grant to help more people get off the streets.”
The announcement came as a wave of nationwide protests swept across the country over the weekend, with many cities and states attempting to enact their own anti-homeless policies, including New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
The New York mayor’s announcement on Sunday comes at a critical time, with homelessness being a major issue in many states as they attempt to balance a booming economy against an aging population.
The mayor has called on the US Congress to pass a law that would make homeless shelters eligible for a federal grant of $15 million annually.
This would be the first time the federal government has ever offered to help the homeless.
“When it comes to homelessness, there’s no greater priority for the country than protecting the vulnerable and providing a safe and stable place to call home,” de Blasio said in his statement.
“We have to be the best cities we can be, and the first to come to the rescue of people who need it the most.”
De Blasio said he was working on a bill that would “make it easier for New Yorkers to get a job, to pay bills, to get housing, to buy a home, and to have the security of a secure home.”
“I believe that this city is doing the right thing by our homeless population,” he added.
“We are going to do our best to keep them safe and stay in the neighborhoods where they are most at risk.”