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De Blasio Administration Shakes Up Homeless Services Agency

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The head of New York City's beleaguered Homeless Services agency is stepping down.

Mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton confirmed Tuesday that Gilbert Taylor is leaving his post. He was appointed in early 2014.

Taylor's departure comes at a time when de Blasio has faced sharp criticism for a rise in homelessness.

Nearly 58,000 people are living in the city's homeless shelters. More than 23,000 of them are children.

An additional 3,000 or so people are estimated to be living on the city's streets.

Mayor de Blasio also announced a comprehensive review of the Department of Homeless Services and its relationship with the Human Resources Administration. Both agencies work in coordination to provide services and resources to help combat the homelessness issue. 

"Tackling homelessness is an urgent priority – and that's why we have invested additional resources and launched innovative new initiatives to place homeless individuals and families into permanent housing, and to prevent homelessness in the first place," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "We must also guarantee that the organizational structure is best positioned to deliver these services and operate these programs. Commissioner Banks and First Deputy Mayor Shorris will lead a comprehensive review of our existing systems, which are more than 20 years old, so we can maximize our ability to serve homeless New Yorkers and the entire city."

De Blasio said the review period would last "no more than" 90 days. The review is intended to identify roadblocks the agency may be facing and to propose potential reforms.

"We recognize, as the homelessness situation persists, as the challenge persists, that we have to evaluate whether the current structures make sense and what kind of changes we can make to streamline and improve the work of these agencies," de Blasio said.

De Blasio said no city in the country has found a solution to solve the homelessness problem, which he characterized as more of an economic issue, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported. De Blasio said the homelessness problem now includes more struggling families on the streets, where it used to be mostly the mentally ill and those addicted to drugs.

De Blasio admitted he could have done a better job communicating the issue to the public, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez reported.

"I wish I had to explain to the people of the city earlier and better the shape of the problem," de Blasio said. "But, you can't for a moment missed the fact that 22,000 folks were moved out of shelters. You can for a moment missed the fact that the city is making major investments to address the problem."

"Some of the solutions are starting to take hold and we're not going to rest until we turn the tide," de Blasio added later.

Polls show that New Yorkers have become increasingly worried about homelessness. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said the state may step in to combat the crisis.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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