Friday, August 08, 2008

Bloomberg’s Homelessness Initiative Fails to Deliver Results

The number of New York City families living in homeless shelters has not decreased despite Mayor Bloomberg’s anti-homelessness initiative which increased spending on homelessness prevention services by 20%. The initiative began in 2004 and aimed to reduce homelessness in New York but did not put forth any concrete target goals.

The Bloomberg administration has touted progress reports as essential measures of city initiatives. However, according to a report issued on August 7th by City Councilmember Bill de Blasio, Chair of the General Welfare Committee, Bloomberg’s initiative has failed to deliver timely evaluations of anti-homelessness programs. De Blasio supported the intention of Bloomberg’s offensive, but emphasized that it’s just not enough to set goals without reporting on the results of this initiative.

De Blasio’s report follows the July announcement of a new citywide formula for calculating poverty which sets the Citys current poverty level at 23%, higher than the federal estimate of 19%. The announcement of the new formula was not accompanied by any statement addressing the overall decline or increase of poverty levels during the Bloomberg administration.

Bloomberg’s initiative has increased spending for the Human Resources Administration which administers the federal Food Stamps program. HRA has suffered from processing delays and widespread inefficiency, leading to an April court order that forced the department to comply with food stamp processing deadlines. The Bloomberg administration also continues to enforce the finger-imaging of food stamp applicants, despite the states repeal of the finger-imaging requirement in 2007.

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