Though several New York mayors have grappled with the issue of homelessness over the years, the most populous city in America is also home to one of the nation’s fastest growing homeless populations. Estimates show that New York City’s homeless population grew 19% last year, the largest increase in any US city between 2011 and 2012.
The Bloomberg administration attempted to reduce shelter populations with a nine-point strategy initiated in 2004. Shelter numbers dipped but then began to rise steadily, with recent shelter census surveys reporting over 50,000 homeless people in municipal shelters as of March 2013. Meanwhile, national strategies to curb homelessness have seen large decreases in chronic and Veteran homeless populations, according to a report by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
“This is totally a solvable problem, but we clearly need new ways to think about it,” said Rosanne Haggerty, president of the non-profit, Community Solutions. Haggerty, a MacArthur Genius grantee and recipient of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism, is spearheading The Brownsville Partnership, a collaborative prevention and community development program in one of Brooklyn’s most underserved neighborhoods.