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City Council Unveils Its Comprehensive Homeless Plan

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - City Council Speaker Corey Johnson unveiled Thursday a comprehensive plan for dealing with the homeless crisis.

It includes 90 separate recommendations focusing on preventing homelessness and increasing access to permanent housing.


Johnson, standing with homeless advocates on the steps of City Hall, clutched a report 18 months in the making that is filled with dozens of ways to get the homeless off the streets.

One idea that stands out seems deceptively simple: Increase rental assistance vouchers so people can find apartments they can afford.

"The voucher doesn't pay for what they need to get into housing," Johnson said.

He wants to increase the current $1,580 a month maximum to rent a two-bedroom apartment to $1,951, which is the fair market rate.

It could save gazillions of dollars, while ending homelessness, reported CBS2's Marcia Kramer.

Consider: The city spends $5,900 a month to house a family of four in a shelter and $8,223 a month to house a family of four in a hotel.

"There is nowhere in New York City where you can find a two-bedroom apartment for less than $1,580. It's quite literally impossible, and no wonder that our shelter population is at a record high," Johnson said.

The plan has many ideas: Support for at-risk seniors, more safe haven beds, new outreach tools for street homeless, a deputy mayor just for homelessness.

It comes as the city's homeless population hovers at about 60,000, and New Yorkers have watched Mayor Bill de Blasio unveil one homeless program after the other.

"There hasn't been a fully cohesive strategy and plan on dealing with homelessness in New York City. The plan that we handed you ... is a comprehensive, long-term, holistic plan," Johnson said.

Homeless advocates agree.

"This is a much more comprehensive approach, and it also addresses the root cause of homelessness, which is the lack of affordable housing," said Giselle Routhier, policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless.

The unanswered question is where the money will come from to increase the rent subsidies. The council wants the state to come up with the dough, but it's unclear if that will happen.

A spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would review the proposal, but sources say the state feels the most effective solution is building affordable housing and that rent-subsidy programs too often perpetuate the cycle of homelessness.

There was no response from Mayor de Blasio.

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