NYC should increase reach of “Street-to-Home” pilot program


Axel Drainville | Flickr

The “Street-to-Home” pilot program is an effective approach to providing help to one of the city’s most vulnerable populations, serving as a pathway for people experiencing homelessness to receive permanent supportive housing.

The program, launched in Brooklyn and Manhattan, houses homeless people suffering from mental health issues in one of four single-room occupancy buildings without requiring them to fill out extensive paperwork.

The documentation needed to begin the application process for apartment units can be a significant hurdle to homeless persons seeking supportive housing.

According to the New York Post, half a dozen employees of the city’s Human Resource Administration are tasked with reviewing thousands of these applications, further delaying the process.

By eliminating this step in the housing process, the “Street-to-Home” program dissolves the bureaucratic barriers that keep unhoused individuals from accessing government-funded resources.

Gothamist reported that the program has already succeeded in placing nearly 60 individuals in supportive housing.

The next step is increasing the program’s outreach. But this effort will require collaboration between Mayor Eric Adams’ administration and housing nonprofits across the city.

As of November 2022, nearly 2,600 city-funded supportive housing units were vacant. This high number of vacancies is partly due to the requirement that individuals and families stay in shelters for a set time before entering supportive housing.

Mayor Adams made it clear that the “Street-to-Home” pilot program would have to be studied before being expanded citywide. But housing advocates are pointing to cities that have seen great success with programs that use the “Housing First” approach, which does not require participation in mental health or behavioral services.

For example, a similar program in Houston has succeeded in placing more than 25,000 people into homes and apartments.

The Adams administration has shown their willingness to try different approaches to dealing with the city’s ongoing housing crisis, but must now commit to extending the program resources.