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Commentary By Manhattan Institute

Average Stay in Homeless Shelters Has Surged Under Mayor de Blasio

Cities, Cities Housing, New York City

Editor's note: The following is article by reporter Anna Sanders for the Sunday New York Post, based on an upcoming Manhattan Institute report

Home sweet shelter.

The average stay for homeless adults in city shelters was 90 days longer in 2017 under Mayor de Blasio than during former Mayor Bloomberg’s last full fiscal year in office — increasing from 293 days in 2013 to 383 days, according to new report from the Manhattan Institute.

That’s because de Blasio isn’t motivating shelter providers to help get homeless people into permanent housing, focusing instead on comfort and conditions at the facilities, the conservative think tank argues.

“The more comfortable an adult or a family feels in a temporary housing situation, the weaker the motivation could become to move back into the community,” Manhattan Institute fellow Stephen Eide says in the report to be released this week.

The average stay for families with children increased 39 days from fiscal year 2013 to 2017, when they remained in shelters for nearly a year and two months.

The average stay for adult couples without kids increased 81 days during the same period — to a whopping 550 days.

“We need to focus more on moving people out,” Eide told the Post.

When de Blasio took office in the middle of fiscal year 2014, the city halted a Bloomberg-era program that graded and financially rewarded providers based on housing placements, length of stay and the rate of return to shelters for homeless clients.

The “Performance Incentive Program” was launched in 2003 during Bloomberg’s second year in office. Average stays for single adults in shelters decreased each fiscal year from 2006 to 2010, and went down in 2009 and 2010 for homeless families with children. The stays for adult couples also dropped each year between 2008 and 2010.

The financial incentives for family-shelter providers ended in 2012 after the state withdrew approval, according to Eide.

Financial rewards remained for single-adult facilities until the entire incentive program was discontinued under de Blasio in 2014.

“The de Blasio administration should reinstitute a benchmarking and incentive program,” Eide writes.

There were 76,500 homeless in city shelters and on the streets last year, according to a federal report, up 12.5 percent from an estimated 68,000 when de Blasio took office in 2014.

The average stay in shelters for homeless families and single adults grew every fiscal year under de Blasio until 2017, when the time sheltered decreased slightly for families. But single adults still remained in shelter 28 days longer in 2017 than the year before.

More than 71,000 homeless have exited shelter under de Blasio, according to the city, which plans to update performance metrics for providers.

“The national challenge of homelessness didn’t occur overnight and it won’t be solved overnight, but our city’s comprehensive strategies are taking hold,” homeless services spokesman Isaac McGinn said.


Anna Sanders is a reporter for Sunday New York Post

This piece originally appeared in New York Post