Data-driven plan to help homeless debuts

December 18, 2015 Jaime DeJesus
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The city has launched a new initiative designed better to identify, engage, and transition homeless New Yorkers to appropriate services and permanent housing.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the roll-out of Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams (HOME-STAT) during the Association for a Better New York breakfast on Thursday, December 17.

The program aims to quantify data about the homeless, to enable city agencies to track them more easily to offer them assistance quickly, and, hopefully, reduce their number.

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“I’m proud to announce HOME-STAT, a collaboration between the NYPD and the New York City Department of Homeless Services to get homeless New Yorkers the help they need to get back on track,” said de Blasio in a statement on Twitter. “With HOME-STAT, New Yorkers can alert outreach teams of homeless individuals in need to get them connected to resources within 60 minutes.”

HOME-STAT, which is loosely modeled on the NYPD’s successful COMP STAT program that tracks crime, includes daily mapping of data from a variety of sources with more extensive monthly evaluations, with the goal of enabling proactive canvassing, immediate response and city-wide case-by-case integration and management, according to the mayor.

It will include an increase in contracted Street Outreach Team staff and build a rapid-response capacity to respond to 311 calls and information received from HOME-STAT field staff in all five boroughs and throughout the subway system. New York City’s homeless outreach staff is expected to increase from 175 to approximately 312, with the program fully operational by March, 2016, according to the mayor’s office.

The NYPD will also redeploy 40 officers to its 70-officer Homeless Outreach Unit to respond to calls regarding encampments, large hot spots, and people experiencing emotional disturbance or exhibiting erratic behavior.

To support field teams, HOME-STAT will create a citywide case management system that provides case managers for the street outreach services to ensure city service integration, continuous monitoring and outreach, and rapid response to individual problems.

In addition, in Manhattan, the Mayor’s Office of Operations is launching a daily canvass of every block from Canal Street to 145th Street, focusing on hot spots and improving the city’s ability to  identify issues quickly and deploy resources to the people and places they are needed most.

Borough President Eric Adams, who has voiced his concern regarding the homeless issue, applauded the mayor’s move. “I believe that HOME-STAT is a positive response to that call and a significant investment in people power to proactively address and respond to problems we are facing with our homelessness crisis,” he said.

Brooklyn Councilmember Mathieu Eugene concurred.  “Having a home is a human right and no one who lives in New York City, which is one of the wealthiest cities in the world, should be without this basic right,” he said. “It is our moral obligation as government to provide for the people, and HOME-STAT is definitely a step in the right direction for our city. We must continue to provide for all New Yorkers especially during tough economic times.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary, Julian Castro also shares the mayor’s optimism. “HUD applauds the City of New York for increasing street outreach in a way that will be data-driven and responsive to the needs of individuals living on the streets. Getting people into housing quickly is a critical component of ending homelessness,” he said.

De Blasio stressed that the program will take time to reach its full potential. “Progress won’t happen overnight but I am confident HOME-STAT will help heal a challenge that has persisted and deepened for decades,” he said.

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