In order to relieve overcrowding in homeless shelters, the city's Department of Homeless Services may employ a plan that requires single adults currently living in shelters to return to their last place of residence. In return, the city will offer furniture and possibly even food stamps and health insurance to residents who agree to take the individuals back.
According to the proposed policy, if homeless single adults do not return to their former location, they will be forcibly removed by an officer before they become eligible for shelter again.
If family members or friends refuse to take back the individuals, homeless shelters will have the authority to deny them space.
Agency commissioner Seth Diamond said he believed the offer was "appropriate" and said, "If it makes an available room something that's a viable option, we want to support that. There are modest changes that can be made to the layout of an apartment to accommodate another single."
The controversial furniture deal coincides with Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to require homeless adults seeking shelter to go through an interview screening process to determine if the applicants have no other viable options of residency.
The proposed screening process has come under harsh criticism from homeless advocates and City Council members who believe the plan is "dangerous" and "misguided." In November, the City Council voted to sue the city over the stricter policies, with the city eventually deciding to postpone the start of the process.
The Bloomberg administration received another blow when it was reported that the number of people sleeping in shelters reached 41,000, marking it the first time shelters had exceeded the 40,000 mark.