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Homeless New Yorkers take part in crafting city's new housing plan

NYC recruits homeless to help with new housing plan
NYC recruits homeless to help with new housing plan 02:06

NEW YORK -- It had been months in the making. On Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams announced details of the city's new housing and homeless plan.

CBS2's Natalie Duddridge spoke to former and current homeless people who say they got a chance to be part of the process.

"Under Mayor Adams, we've been allowed inside City Hall. Homeless New Yorkers helping to craft a housing plan," homeless advocate Shams De Baron said.

De Baron is known as the homeless hero. CBS2 first met him in 2020 when he lived at The Lucerne, an Upper West Side hotel-turned-homeless shelter.

He went on to become a homeless advocate and was invited by Jessica Katz, the city's housing officer, to help build the affordable housing and homelessness blueprint.

"Having around 25 formerly homeless New Yorkers come to City Hall, get to speak to the mayor, himself," Katz said.

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The $32 billion plan outlines more affordable units.

Adams toured a hotel-turned-apartment building on Sands Street in downtown Brooklyn. He wouldn't put a specific number on how many people the overall plan will help house.

"As many as possible," the mayor said.

However, officials did tell Duddridge a specific building will provide 491 affordable units, including 305 for those currently homeless or in shelter programs. The other 185 will be set aside for the city's lottery program.

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Housing officials say soon we're going to see a lot more hotels converted into affordable housing, thanks to a new law. Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed legislation to create more flexible rules unlocking underutilized hotel space.

The housing blueprint also aims to transform NYCHA using a new state-approved cash infusion to cover the cost of renovations. In addition, it will get rid of the four month rule for shelter residents that delayed them from starting a housing application.

"When you come into a shelter, you do a 30-day intake. After that, they made you wait three months in your permanent shelter before they would start your paperwork. In those four months, so much can happen," said Sarah Wilson, who lives in a shelter.

The housing plan will also gather a more accurate census count of how many people are actually homeless, so they can be helped.

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