Money talks -- especially when it comes straight from the mayor’s mouth.
To help curb New York City’s record homeless rate, Mayor Bill de Blasio is making robocalls to landlords, asking them to take in “responsible” homeless families in exchange for a $1,000 bonus, the New York Daily New reported.
The city initially offered the incentive through its rental assistance program only through December, but decided to extend the bonus through the end of March.
“Responsible residents are ready to move into homes and we are ready to work with you,” the mayor says in the call.
Participating homeless families are expected to put 30 percent of their income toward their rent, and the city will chip in subsidies ranging from $1,200 to $2,500 a month, according to WCBS 880.
The partnership comes at a time when homeless rates are soaring at historic rates.
In mid-December, the number of New Yorkers living without stable shelter hit an all-time high of 59,068 people, the New York Daily News reported.
The number of kids without shelter is of particular concern. That homeless demographic has spiked 63 percent over the past five years, according to the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness.
"The [Department of Homeless Services] is operating on an emergency basis,” City Stephen Levin, a city council member, told the Gotham Gazette in August. “We're at max capacity."
The cash for participating landlords is being sourced from the Living in Communities Rental Assistance program (LINC). The program shelters domestic abuse victims, vulnerable populations and homeless families with full-time jobs who can’t afford housing.
The incentive program is part of the city’s commitment to funnel more resources to housing people in need.
The Department of Homeless Services will devote $45 million in city and state funds to unsheltered individuals this year, up from $35.5 million in 2014, according to The New York Times.
Some say de Blasio’s compensation tactics simply line the pockets of well off landlords without stemming the homelessness issue. But others say the program follows the effective “housing first” model.
That method, which touts providing homeless people with stable shelter, and then addressing their health and employment issues, is what a number of cities credit for dramatically curbing homelessness rates.
Salt Lake City reduced its chronic homeless population by 72 percent over the past two decades with that very approach.
"We did it by giving homes to homeless people," Lloyd Pendleton, director of Utah’s Homeless Task Force, told the "Daily Show" in January.
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