NEW YORK CITY – Fewer New Yorkers are living on the streets, in parks and along subways after the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study.
The number of homeless New Yorkers fell 38% in the latest HOPE survey, which is the city’s annual homeless population count.
A total of 2,376 people were living without shelter when the survey was conducted in January. A year earlier, they numbered 3,857, according to the survey.
Mayor Bill de Blasio – who has recently come under heavy criticism over his handling of homelessness – presented the findings as proof that the city’s approach to helping its street homeless population is working .
“It shows us that all of this radiation is working more and more,” he said.
The survey – officially dubbed the Homeless Population Estimate – covers only the segment of New York’s homeless population that lives outside the city’s shelter system.
But it is a group of people who have found themselves in the limelight, especially during the pandemic.
The metro closure for months overnight was, in part, fueled by Governor Andrew Cuomo showing what he called “disgusting” images of homeless people on the metro.
The survey found that the number of homeless people in the metro dropped 23% from January 2020 to January this year. That represents about 800 people who are now in shelters or other housing, said Steve Banks, the city’s commissioner for homelessness services.
“The numbers are important, but it’s also important to understand that behind each of those numbers is a human being,” he said.