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NYC Sees Uptick In Number Of Homeless Living On Streets

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More people are living on New York City's streets now than at this time last year.

As CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reported, the number of homeless on the streets -- 3,357 -- is down by 24 percent since 2005, according to city data. But the number is up by 177 people, or 5 percent, compared to last year.

"We reduced that number over the last 10 years," said Jody Rudin with the Department of Homeless Services. "But within that, there is some fluctuation from year to year. And we always want to take a compassionate approach."

Overall, there are more than 56,000 people living in city shelters -- a number that continues to grow, according to the DHS.

Whitney Gallie, 22, and her dog, Steely, have been homeless in New York City for three years.

She said she's noticed she has a lot more company lately.

"A lot of the older people are being pushed out their rent-stabilized apartments," Gallie said. "And now there's more and more. And more and more people my age, too."

Gallie and other homeless say their outdoor life has fewer hassles these days. They claim the NYPD doesn't enforce loitering laws like it used to.

Some like Gallie attribute the change to Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration.

"It started as soon as we got the new mayor," she said. "Like they started to kind of let up."

DHS said in July it took over the homeless outreach program in the transit system, increasing the less than $1 million budget to $6 million.

"We've quadrupled the number of staff working to engage individuals sleeping in the transit system," Rudin said. "Have went from having 14 to 68 workers."

Gallie said the city has nothing to offer people who want to live with their pets. So for now, she chooses to stay on the street.

"My reasons for being out here at first were not the right reasons," Gallie said. "And now that I don't want to be out here, it's like I'm stuck in this cycle."

DHS said it is doing everything it can to break the cycle by expanding its outreach programs to meet the growing need.

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