The Real Deal New York

De Blasio announces homeless shelter improvement plan

City will deploy “SWAT teams” to address violations

May 12, 2015 09:30AM

Bill de Blasio and Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor

From left: Bill de Blasio and Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new initiative on Monday that aims to immediately improve conditions in the city’s homeless shelters.

The $12.5 million initiative will utilize 100 city employees across multiple agencies to visit 500 shelters and address the issues, Capital New York reported.

A scathing report released in March by the Department of Investigation found that many of the city’s homeless shelters were suffering from unsanitary and unsafe conditions including dead vermin, lack of electricity, and rusted staircases.

“We will be deploying hundreds of special SWAT teams to accelerate critical repairs at homeless shelters all over the city. We want to help ensure every shelter is safe and healthy for all its residents,” the mayor said during a press conference outside the Corona Family Residence, a Queens homeless shelter. “This is going to be an all-hands-on-deck effort.”

Most problems can be addressed quickly, he said. “Typical violations that we encounter can and will be fixed within seven days of being identified; that will be the most common category.”

De Blasio has seen the number New Yorkers living in homeless shelters surge to record figures of nearly 60,000 this past December, according to city data. That figure has dropped since the winter to about 56,000. [Capital NY] — Tess Hofmann