NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by Cardinal Timothy Dolan in the Bronx Wednesday to outline a plan on how the city will address the growing homeless population.
Ahead of Pope Francis' visit, the city and the Archdiocese of New York announced they are teaming up to provide 150 beds for homeless people along with needed social services before winter sets in.
De Blasio and Dolan chose a Franciscan community of friars who help the poor of the Bronx as the venue to make the announcement, WCBS 880's John Metaxas reported.
"Pope Francis' visit is a time to reflect on our common humanity and obligations to one another," de Blasio said. "Too often, our city's homeless are stigmatized, ostracized, dehumanized, and we must remember that they are our fellow human beings in crisis...We must do all that we can to uplift those struggling and help get them back on their feet."
De Blasio, Archdiocese Of New York Unveil Plan Regarding City's Homeless Problem
The plan is part of a joint effort to utilize buildings in the Archdiocese portfolio for affordable housing and other emergency shelter services. The city's larger goal is to create 500 new beds for homeless people through partnerships with faith-based organizations, Metaxas reported.
"I am pleased to join with Mayor de Blasio in this important collaboration to assist some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers who currently call the streets of our City their home," Dolan said. "This continues the Church's long-standing commitment on behalf of New Yorkers through Catholic Charities and our parishes and schools to provide help and create hope in the lives of New Yorkers in need."
As CBS2's Andrea Grymes explained, at St. Anthony's shelter in the Bronx, Father Ignatius Shin said they want the homeless men staying there to know they're not alone.
"We just tell them first and foremost, hey, you're here to be loved, and the first thing we do, we get to know their names," Father Shin said.
It's that kind of personal attention the city hopes to replicate in a new homeless program called 'Opening Doors.'
"What we have found through real experience is that a smaller, more intimate, more supportive settings will actually draw people off the street and to where they can get help," the Mayor said.
Other faith leaders have pledged an additional 300 beds across the city, and are working on securing another 50.
"It's a great honor for the church topartner, there's nothing we're more natural and good about doing than in feeding the hungry, helping the poor, and sheltering the homeless," Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archdiocese of New York, said.
The move comes after Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Tuesday that he will focus resources on 125th Street in Harlem where the homeless problem is believed to be most amplified.
"I am announcing also the creation of a new 38-officer unit that will be stationed at 125th Street up in Harlem to deal with the extraordinary conditions up in that community," Bratton said.
The new officers will be trained in crisis intervention and dealing with emotionally disturbed people.
But homeless advocates said it is the wrong way to solve a growing problem.
"We certainly think we can't police ourselves out of the homelessness crisis," said Giselle Routhier of the Coalition for the Homeless. "We need to implement solutions that really work."
Routhier is working to get more funding from the state for supportive housing, which provides housing and social service to the homeless.
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