Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness      From research to policy and policy to practice.

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City & State: Shifting To Traditional Homeless Shelters, De Blasio Faces Backlash From Locals

“Setting aside concerns about the quality and availability of such services, some experts say there can be political advantages to using hotels and private apartments. Opening a Tier II shelter is a more time-consuming process, and communities tend to be be more aware of the proposal – and have more time to try to thwart it. These traditional shelters are also a more visible reminder of homelessness – and how well any given administration is handling it, according to Ralph da Costa Nunez, president of the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. The Bloomberg administration “didn’t want to have these more state-regulated facilities because it makes the issue much more visible,” de Costa Nunez said. “So they expanded the cluster sites and the hotel sites. And what’s happened is that became the norm. They’ll put people there because it’s easy. They’ll put people there because they really don’t always get counted.”

Having helped Mayor Ed Koch open shelters, de Costa Nunez said he knew how difficult it was to find available, appropriate spaces for homeless people. He said this made the city reluctant to back away from identified locations, even in the face of immense public resistance. De Costa Nunez said that only very rarely did the backlash reach a point that City Hall decided to drop its shelter plans.”

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