The Department of Homeless Services asks New Yorkers to volunteer for its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) to assist the agency and community partners in estimating the number of individuals living on the streets, in parks, subways, and other public spaces across the city. HOPE 2017 will take place on Monday evening, January 23, from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Having an accurate count of unsheltered New Yorkers is crucial to combat homelessness, and on the night of HOPE, DHS will need a minimum of 3,000 New Yorkers to collect this data, which is mandated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. The vital information volunteers collect will mean that City outreach teams are able to help even more individuals move from the streets to a more stable, safe environment. Those interested in volunteering and participating in an extraordinary citywide effort should visit www.nyc.gov/hope to register.
New York City continues to be a national leader in investing in and developing programs to serve people living on the street, with outreach teams mobilized in all five boroughs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; specialized housing set aside for the street homeless; and targeted funding to ensure that adequate resources reach the individuals most in need. HOPE 2016 found that 2,794 homeless individuals were living on the streets of New York City on the night of the count. This is a 12 percent decline from the 3,182 unsheltered individuals in 2015 and is the second annual decline in a row. There was a 20 percent decrease, the first in seven years, in subway system homeless, going from 1,976 in 2015 to 1,573 in 2016.
“It’s essential to know how many New Yorkers need our services, and the HOPE count is an important part of that. Now, with the Mayor’s HOME-STAT initiative, we are greatly increasing our outreach program to help bring people in from the streets, and we will also have more information about homelessness on the streets going forward,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.
Through HOME-STAT, the City now conducts quarterly nighttime street counts to complement the federal HOPE count requirement and to provide more information to target services to bring New Yorkers in from the streets. HOME-STAT remains the most comprehensive street homeless outreach initiative in any major national city. It has doubled the number of street homeless outreach staff members working to connect individuals to the resources they need to place them in housing and has expanded outreach services into indoor spaces, such as libraries and hospitals. Since its launch in March 2016 through October 2016, HOME-STAT has helped 690 street homeless individuals transition from the streets through connecting them to permanent housing or transitional housing options, such as safe havens.
HOPE began in 2003 with 1,000 volunteers in Manhattan and now covers all five boroughs. Over 3,800 New Yorkers volunteered for HOPE 2016, a record total. New York City’s HOPE count is the largest nationwide effort of its kind and has been identified by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a best practice survey method. Cities wishing to draw down funding for homeless services provided by the McKinney-Vento Act are required to conduct such a survey. In New York City, McKinney-Vento funding is used to develop supportive housing, an important service model in New York City’s effort to reduce street homelessness.