With winter settling in, New York State is enacting rules to protect the homeless from frigid temperatures.
Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order on Sunday, which aims to protect the homeless during weather where temperatures are 32 degrees or below.
The order — which will take effect on Jan. 5 — will make sure that these individuals are directed to shelter and will also require homeless shelters to extend their hours of operations. The state is expected to help any local communities if they lack facilities, resources or expertise.
If a homeless individual refuses to go to a shelter, they can also be taken involuntarily to prevent them facing any harm — such as hypothermia, serious injury or death.
“It is imperative that the state act to ensure that such aid, care and support is provided to address the needs of the state’s homeless population, which need is further heightened during the winter months,” Cuomo said in the executive order.
Cuomo also added directed all communities to ensure that facilities used for temporary housing are safe, clean, well maintained and supervised.
According to the New York Daily News, the emergency declaration is just the first part of what will be the governor’s comprehensive plan to address homelessness. He plans to unveil the complete plan during his State of the State address on Jan. 13.
As part of the plan, communities will be required to come up with housing and supportive service networks which are created to meet the “specific needs of each subgroup within the homeless population” — such as mentally ill individuals or domestic violence victims.
A total of about 58,000 people use homeless shelters in New York City each day. A recent survey showed that over 3,000 are living on the streets, the Daily News reported.
During a recent press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city welcomed help from the state.
"We certainly welcome resources — we’ve needed them in this city for quite a while. And I think we can do a lot of good together," he said.
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De Blasio added that the city has done a good job on its main focus at first, which was to get individuals out of the shelters and into housing — with 22,000 out of shelters.
However, the city continues to deal with a massive homelessness issue which can be tackled through an increase in affordable housing — which the city expects to roll out a 200,000-unit plan; more supportive housing; and raising wages and benefits — especially because a large percentage of the homeless currently have jobs, according to the mayor.
"It will take time, it will be a long battle but I believe all these pieces will add up and turn the tide," de Blasio said.
By: Angy Altamirano, Metro New York
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