The de Blasio administration and the City Council failed to set aside enough funds for the homeless shelter capacity they would need this year and are now paying for their optimism, officials revealed this week.
Early this year, the administration believed that its systemic, long-term approach to homelessness would reduce the shelter population by winter.
They were wrong. The census just again topped 12,000 families, where it was at the same time last year.
The City Council voted Wednesday to tack $137.5 million on to the Department of Homeless Services budget for shelters, $88 million of which will come from city taxpayers. That represents an almost 17% increase in the shelter budget for this year.
“These are predominantly for adult shelter and family shelter re-estimates," outgoing Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor said at a City Council hearing last week.
The gap resulted from an incorrect assumption by the administration and the council that the shelter population would trend downward by the end of the year thanks to new subsidy and homelessness-prevention programs, according to council staff. While mid-year budget adjustments are normal, this year’s is remarkable, one aide said.
A mayoral spokeswoman said the funding adjustment was meant to cover population and cost increases since fiscal year 2014, upon which this fiscal year’s estimates were based.