Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom, Health and Human Services: Good morning, everyone. I am Anne Williams-Isom. I’m the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services. And we’re here this morning to update New Yorkers on something that we have been working on for over a year. I would say it’s probably one of the most complex issues that face New York City today.
Since our first day in office, the mayor said he wanted to reach out to our unsheltered brothers and sisters who were struggling with severe mental illness, and that is exactly what we have done. Before I turn things over to the mayor to speak in more detail and to give us an update, I want to acknowledge the folks standing with us today.
Along with the mayor here, we have the Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Park; New York City’s Health + Hospital President and CEO, Dr. Mitch Katz; NYPD Chief of Interagency Operations, Terri Tobin; Office of Community Mental Health Executive Director Eva Wong; DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan; DOHMH Executive Deputy Commissioner Deepa Avula; NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Advisor for Behavior Health, Jason Hansen— Jason, I see you out there, come back over here— City Hall Senior Advisor for Severe Mental Illness Policy Brian Stettin; BronxWorks Assistant Director Scott Auwarter; and, Shams DaBaron, who I heard we’re not calling you the homeless hero anymore, we’re calling you the housing hero. So, I’m officially changing your title.
So, let me now turn the mic over to the mayor to give us an update.
Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you so much, and the mere fact that you went through that list of people who are here tells us clearly that there is no “I” in team, and it’s a complete team of not only of advocates but professionals who understand every portion of this journey.
And Shams, this has been something that you’ve dedicated your life’s work to, and through this, my time in office, you have been a constant communicator— even a two a.m. tweet from you on what you observe on the streets.
And all of the men and women behind us, from our law enforcement to our housing advocates, to those who understand how to contact our mental health workers and how to coordinate with our mental health workers and speak to those who are seeking shelter.
We were extremely clear to New Yorkers that we were not going to allow people to live in an undignified way on our streets during inclement weather and just during a normal course of doing business. We saw it while we walked the streets of Harlem. I remember one night Shams and I walked the streets of Harlem around one a.m. in the morning, then went over to Randall’s Island and just noticed the number of people that were lying in our streets.
And some of them were individuals who we saw for years out there and we just walked passed them. They became part of the landscape. And that is something that we said that is not acceptable. There’s nothing dignified about living in a tent, under a cardboard box or under a subway station or track.
And so I really want to thank Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom for really coordinating the entire team with the whole team approach. Since taking office, we’ve been focused on addressing homelessness and bringing New Yorkers who were living on the street indoors. That has been a real north star for us.
A year ago, we announced the city’s plan to help unsheltered New Yorkers suffering from severe and untreated mental illness. We wanted them to find their way to treatment and recovery. Especially those New Yorkers who we’ve been ignoring and walking passed and whose mental illness was preventing them from meeting their basic human needs. This was so important to coordinate with H + H, and Dr. Katz I cannot thank you enough for understanding that we had to have a complete mindset and shift on how we thought about these cases.
Our approach was basic and a reevaluation of how we interpret existing laws. It combined more training for first responders, enhanced coordination between agencies and the state and making more critical resources like psychiatric beds available. They took a hit during Covid, and we knew we had to refocus our attention on the beds.
One year later, we are proud to stand here and say early results show our plan is working. We have housed and helped a significant number of those most in need in care and support, care that helped them recover and reunite with family and friends. All of this is possible because we strengthened coordination across city agencies and devoted resources that were necessary to the people who were most in need.
We have increased outreach staffing by 60 percent since January of 2022; and as a result, more than 6,100 New Yorkers have checked into shelters since launching the Subway Safety Plan in February, 2022.
As of now, we have already trained 95 percent of our first responders in how to implement our new methods of helping those in need of intervention. That’s an amazing accomplishment, and because we’ve reacclimated them to what actually needed to be done to give people the services that they need.
In those early days we walked out there I saw how much we started to build confidence and trust with individuals who were living in deplorable conditions.
We are also looking to expand the number of supported facilities available for those in need. By the end of this year, New York City Health + Hospitals will have all psychiatric beds that were closed during the pandemic back online totaling approximately 1,000 beds. This is transformative work and has proven what is possible when we step up to get people the help they need.
For too long this has been ignored, and we know that there has been a gray area where policy, law and accountability have not been clear, and this has allowed people in need to slip through the cracks. This administration was determined to change this culture of uncertainty. No more walking by or looking away. No more passing the buck. If severe mental illness is causing someone to be unsheltered and a danger to themselves, we acknowledge our moral obligation to help them get the treatment and the care they need, and we’re not going to pretend anything other than that is acceptable.
Over the last year, we have proven what is possible and we lean into the most challenging cases with engagement, compassion and support. The most vivid illustration of this is our coordinated behavioral health task force. Every week, the task force, which is made up of city agencies, some of them behind us, our partners and nonprofit providers meet to go over how we can best service the hardest to reach.
And this is the population you see every day. And when you see them every day, you begin to believe that the entire system cannot correct the course. And we wanted to zero in on those 100 unsheltered individuals who are chronic unsheltered dealing with severe mental health issues to the point that they can’t take care of themselves.
And since November of 2022, when we started this, 54 individuals, more than half of the 100 people the task force focuses on, 54 of them were given time and they received the help that they needed and now they have a roof over their head and are stabilizing their lives in hospitals or other supportive settings.
People who might have been written off, forgotten or would have been participating in some form of dangerous encounter as we witnessed throughout the last few years of pushing individuals to the subway tracks or harming themselves, many are now reconnected with their families who never stop loving or worry about them and we never stop loving and worrying about them as well.
The 54 New Yorkers represent a 145 percent increase in the task force’s success in bringing people off the streets and providing them with housing and treatment and care. These 54 lives matter and they matter to everyday New Yorkers. We see them, we sought them out, we help them and now their lives are on the right path.
And we want to be clear. We know there’s so much more to be done. We know that there’s so much work to be done, but starting these first steps gives us an opportunity to show that we are moving in the right direction and it fortifies the team. Lessons learned, new ways of approaching this and continue to be steadfast with one North Star.
No New Yorkers should sleep on the street in general, but specifically, those who experience severe mental health issues. And when I announced this approach, there were some naysayers, but the overwhelming number of New Yorkers stated it is time for us to do something differently. And we heard them and we did just that.
There’s more that needs to be done in Albany, and we are clear on that. There’s an important bill sponsored by Assemblymember Ed Braunstein. He will address this series of flaws and gaps in our New York State mental hygiene law that are making it more difficult to help those who don’t know they need help. And it will further clarify the role city services play in providing assistance with those who cannot take care of themselves.
This legislation is critical. We hope our partners in Albany take this up in January session. It is critical for us to help scale our efforts and change more lives. Job well done. We are far from spiking the ball, but clearly, we are near the goal line and we can score for all New Yorkers. Thank you so much, DM.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Let me drill down a little bit more on what the mayor said about the legislation that we are pushing. Ultimately, we need more clinicians on the streets and on the subways engaging people in crisis.
Yesterday, mayor, when we were in the subway, we saw the nurses that were there, the young nurses that became nurses in 2019 right before the pandemic, and it takes a special skill of a special person to do this engagement over and over again and to stay with people.
We really want to see and open that up right now. Right now, the current law makes it impossible for us to deploy the number of clinicians needed. It only allows psychologists, nurses and advanced degree social workers to be certified as mobile crisis clinicians with removal authority. The Supportive Intervention Act would allow us to deploy licensed mental health counselors, thereby enabling a bigger workforce to help engage more and more people in need
Additionally, as the mayor said, we need definitional clarity to the law to help those precious outreach workers have clear guidance in their interactions. We need the law itself to be crystal clear. Furthermore, evaluating a person’s current level of danger must take into account more of how the person presents at that moment. Their treatment history and recent behavior must also be considered.
You’ve heard us say this before, H + H has made huge strides in improving its discharge planning and communications with outpatient providers. We ask that private hospitals around the city build on the model that H + H has deployed with strong results. We are also committed to working with those hospitals on best practices.
Before I turn it over to my next speaker, I want to say a few things about the numbers and the path ahead. Thanks to the strengthening of our continuum of care, more people are accepting services, which is really what this is about and coming inside and receiving the robust case management and vital support to stabilize their lives.
The numbers speak for themselves. The dedication of countless outreach workers and shelter staff providing care and support steps around the way helped nearly a thousand New Yorkers who were living unsheltered eventually move into permanent homes in FY23.
That is a big deal. I know that somebody’s going to write and say, but aren’t there so much more? And oh, you’ve talked about 54, how is 54 a matter? 54 matters, a thousand matters, and what it is, it’s a proof of concept of what is possible if we don’t take our foot off the gas and continue.
And we look forward to building on vital progress as we open Safe Havens and stabilization beds this winter, intensifying training for outreach teams and continue to implement new models including the opening of a hybrid low barrier program located right by one of the city’s busiest end of line stations, Jamaica, Queens this December.
And anybody who’s been to that station knows that that is a hot station and that is going to be such of a help to have that located right there. This hybrid program will serve as both a drop-in center and a stabilization bedside.
The bottom line is this, we will continue undertaking this inter-agency effort and taking all of the lessons that we’ve learned over this year and applying them more, but we do need more to make this more effectively. We need legislative fixes from the state and help from our private hospital partners. With that, I’ll now turn it over to Scott, assistant director from BronxWorks.
Scott Auwarter, Assistant Executive Director, BronxWorks: Hi, thank you. Again, my name is Scott Auwarter and I am an assistant executive director at BronxWorks. I’m a licensed master social worker by training.
I’ve been overseeing outreach in the Bronx for more than 25 years and I can say that in this last year, we have made unprecedented progress with our most seriously mentally ill street homeless folks. Most are now off the street in either transitional and some are even in permanent housing. There’s obviously a lot more to do and we look very much forward to our continued partnership with the people around this here today, and thank you very much.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Thank you, Scott. And thank you for all of your work for all of those years. Next, we’d have Shams DaBaron.
Shams DaBaron: So, before I begin, there was a gentleman that… I’ve gotten quite a few people off the streets, I’m thinking it runs into the hundreds, but there was a gentleman that he’s on his way got caught up in the train. And this gentleman I remember calling me, he was in severe distress.
He said, I don’t think I’m going to make it through the day, through the night. He says, I’m done, I’m going to give up. And he had been trying to reach me and got me that day. I strongly told him, I said, you hold on. I said, this is me, I got you. I made a call, I don’t know if it was to you or to Administrator Carter, and he went into the Safe Haven. All I did, I told him, I said, trust me, you’re going to be all right.
And so this gentleman is now holding a voucher. He went into the Safe Haven. He has an apartment lined up and a complete difference from the day that he gave me that call. So, you’ll get to meet him.
Good morning, brother mayor, esteemed guest, fellow New Yorkers. Today I stand before you, not just as a citizen, but as a testament of power over data and the power of data. I address you, Mayor Eric Adams first, with profound gratitude because your leadership has given me, a once voiceless citizen, a seat at the decision-making table, transforming me from a spectator or a person who was yelling outside of City Hall to an active participant in our city’s fight against homelessness.
I thank you along with your teams and the rest of the administration for allowing me to partner with you in working to solve our homelessness and lack of affordable housing crises, this partnership is significantly saving lives and restoring hope to many who have lost hope.
The partnership to address homelessness with Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul was a joint mission that began in 2022 with the Subway Safety Plan. This initiative, which I proudly contributed to, marked a revolutionary approach to tackling homelessness. It wasn’t just a plan, it was a commitment to transition our fellow New Yorkers from streets to stability, from temporary shelters to permanent homes.
However, not all embrace this vision. Critics detached from the harsh realities of street life have attempted to undermine our efforts. They often ignore the true needs that they claim… Of the people that they claim to serve, but the truth cannot be silenced.
The data speaks volumes. In fiscal year 2023 alone, this administration successfully transitioned 1,000 individuals from temporary safe havens and stabilization beds to permanent housing. This is not mere relocation, it is a transformation of lives.
In the midst of multiple crises, the Adams administration has, despite the challenges, connected more New Yorkers in the shelter system to permanent affordable housing and created more housing to serve our city’s most vulnerable New Yorkers than any time in our city’s history.
While some of our efforts…while some say our efforts are not making a difference, the numbers tell a different story. A 60 percent increase in outreach staffing over 6,100 New Yorkers who checked into shelter since we launched the subway safety plan.
These aren’t just numbers, they are lives touched, lives changed. In fiscal year 2023, DSS successfully transitioned 15,000 households from shelters to permanent housing marketing… Can you all do this with me?
18 percent increase from the previous year. I mean, these numbers are going up and I want you all to remember that. These aren’t just numbers. They are lives touched, lives changed.
So, as we forge ahead, let us remember the steadfast truth of data guides our path. Our achievements combating homelessness are not just a testament to this administration’s commitment but a beacon of hope for every New Yorker seeking a life off the streets.
So, in this spirit, I stand a call of unity to our elected officials, advocates, those impacted by homelessness and housing insecurity, property owners, developers and all stakeholders. Let us join hands in a collaborative effort. Let us be guided by the clear light of truth, the concrete data that shows our path and our shared commitment to the wellbeing of every citizen.
Together, let’s shape a future where every New Yorker has a place to call home, where hope outshines despair and where unity overcomes division. Let’s stay true to our course, affirmed by the data and united in our purpose, ensuring…to ensure that the greatest city in the world remains a beacon of hope, opportunity and compassion for all. Thank you.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: You can clap for that. Right? So, before I hand it over, I love that you said a life off the streets and how some romanticize what it is like to live on the streets. So, when Sham and I saw each other today, the first thing that we did was we were talking about Thanksgiving and how is our Thanksgiving?
And he said, based on the ups and downs in his life, this is one of the first Thanksgivings where all four of his kids like him. Well, I don’t know if that has to do with being homeless. That’s a whole nother thing.
But we don’t think about the ripple effects to people’s children, to their grandchildren, to their life. So, he has spoken powerfully here for us as an advocate, but he is also now this important and centered person for his family. And so I want us to remember that when we say what matters and doesn’t matter. With that, I will hand it over to Mayor Adams.
Question: Mayor, I was just quickly refreshing myself on the book that you gave us back in March of this year with the whole mental illness plan. Two topics I didn’t hear you mention, so on topic, but the public schools as the first line of defense within this plan and then also overdose prevention.
Can we get an update on those, specifically on overdose? I’ll ask before you respond, are we any closer to more overdose prevention centers? What’s the latest with that component that I know is a little controversial?
Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: So, overdose prevention is a central focus of ours. I issued a commissioner’s advisory back in September after the tragedy in one of our daycares to enlist all New Yorkers in getting trained on getting access to naloxone and really ramped up our naloxone distribution.
Last year alone, we distributed over 200,000 free naloxone kits. We’ve trained almost 11,000 people in how to use it. And as you know, the federal government has made naloxone available over the counter for $45. If you can afford it, I recommend every New Yorker go and get it.
Overdose prevention centers are a key strategy to saving lives. The data is clear. We’ve actually submitted our one year data for publication and we’re looking for guidance. We’re looking for leadership from other levels of government to allow us to scale up those approaches legally.
In the meantime, we’re working with syringe service providers all across our city who want to open OPCs to get them ready, to get them ready to do it. But until we have a legal and regulatory environment that’s more welcoming to OPCs like we have in Rhode Island, like currently, Massachusetts is considering right now, we are going to be asking these same questions for some time
Question: And now schools and [inaudible] implementation. And if I could add how the budget cuts might impact that implementation.
Commissioner Vasan: So, the governor announced a couple of things early on in her administration, which really impact New York City schools. Number one is increasing reimbursement rates for school-based mental health centers and expansion of school-based mental health centers. And so that work is certainly underway. We are also working to figure out ways to strengthen our school nursing workforce and get them engaged in school-based mental health at the front lines.
Two other things. We just launched NYC TeenSpace, which is a digital mental health platform for teens 13 to 17 available to over 400,000 New York City teenagers agnostic to whether they’re a part of a school or what school they’re a part of, really putting the power in the hands of young people. And lastly, we’re also working on ways to expand telehealth services in schools, and there will be more to come on that front soon.
Question: Mr. Mayor, in May, you spoke with a lot of feeling about the case of Jordan Neely in the tragedy of that death in the context of these issues. Six months later, in the context of everything you’re trying to do, you described including removal, but everything else. How do you imagine that story could have ended differently in the city you’re trying to create?
Mayor Adams: And I think the team, we have been focusing on that a lot. Jordan went through the system and that was a real textbook case of how if you ignore the problem over and over and over again, it could turn out to be a tragic outcome.
And our goal is to catch the Jordans at the beginning of the process, give him or her the wraparound services they deserve, give them community, give them care, give them support and whatever medical intervention we can do so they don’t go in and out and slip through the cracks. That is exactly why we’re doing this work.
And far too many who talk about the final outcome of Jordan’s life did not and won’t participate in some of the things we’re doing now. And passing the bill in Albany is crucial to make sure Bronstein’s bill is passed and continue to lean into the services that we are providing now. We want to catch the Jordans at the first encounter, give them the support, build the trust and give them the care that they need. And that’s a textbook case of why we’re doing this work.
Question: So, the press release with City Limits describes involuntary removals as a last result and I understand that they weren’t tracked prior to this initiative launching. Can you explain how many of those are happening per month? That would be helpful to me.
Mayor Adams: Yes, we’ll do that. And that was a very good point that you just raised. It was one of the most revealing things to this team, is that we were not tracking involuntary removals. We were not indicating how many people were actually using the authority to do involuntary removal.
And people were reluctant to do it. People were really reluctant, police officers were reluctant, outreach workers were reluctant, medical mental health professionals were reluctant and we took that taboo away and say, there’s nothing wrong if you see someone in severe mental health illness…with severe mental health illness, unable to take care of themselves, in danger to themselves and others. You can take that action and you will not be penalized for taking that action. Do we have the exact numbers?
Terri Tobin, Chief of Interagency Operations, Police Department: I think it’s 130. The Police Department tracks over 137 per week.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Per week.
Mayor Adams: 137 per week? Yes. Average, 137 per week.
Question: Yes. We reported about the NYPD also not tracking and voluntary removals prior to the mayor’s directive in [inaudible] this morning. And a question for the mayor and the PD, is the department now tracking when and specifically under what grounds police officers are conducting these removals and what accountability process exists to hold officers accountable for any inappropriate or unlawful use of this policy?
Mayor Adams: Yes, and that was part of what was really holding up the system for moving forward. If we were sending police officers and outreach workers mixed signals, we were telling them that if someone clearly is in a manner that they cannot take care of themselves and they are a danger to themselves, police officers, outreach workers and everyone that’s part of this team, they were getting mixed messages.
They were told if you take action, you are going to be penalized for taking action, but you can’t ignore someone in that state. And when I’m on the subway system and I’m seeing officers engage with people, inclement weather don’t have any shoes on, of not taking care of their basic needs, standing near the track, yelling, screaming, officers are now having the comfort to know that you could engage that person, and outreach workers, because the police officers, they’re the last part of this apparatus.
The outreach workers are leaning into this work the most. And the accountability is the same. No one is going to abuse their authority. No one is going to do anything that is harmful to a New Yorker. They’re there to correct the condition. That is the role of a police officer, to correct the condition. Historically, they have not been getting clear directions on correcting that condition. Under this administration, we are giving clear direction. And they’re doing it in a level of professionalism and partnership with the outreach workers.
As yesterday, we were with two outreach workers with two police officers. They were in a team. And so the outreach workers are leading and the police officers are there when assistance is needed and it’s the same level of accountability that we always will require of them.
Question: I’m Caroline with WNYC. Are you tracking the outcomes of the people who are removed? And also, what role have involuntary removals played in getting those 54 people you mentioned housed? Was that playing a role at all or are you just sort of saying this is also a good thing?
Mayor Adams: You want to…
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Who wants to take the question about the tracking of the 54? Right?
Mayor Adams: Sure.
Brian Stettin, Senior Advisor For Severe Mental Illness, Mayor’s Office: Good morning. So, yes. Oh, sorry. I’m Brian Stettin. I’m the City Hall senior advisor on severe mental illness, and a significant chunk of those 54 did ultimately come into the care system through an involuntary removal. And we have been using that tool more frequently than we have before.
I think it’s also worth mentioning that we’ve also seen an increase from the previous year in how often we are successful in persuading people to come into shelter and get on track for housing without having to be hospitalized first. So, the answer is really both. We’re doing it all and we’re using every tool at our disposal and
Question: We’re tracking the 54, 14 or in the hospital.
Stettin: Absolutely. We’re tracking them very closely.
Question: When you say they’re in the hospital, how long have they been in the hospital? Are they in state hospitals or are they just happen to be in a hospital right now?
Stettin: So, a number… So of the 54, as deputy mayor said, 14 are hospitalized at this time. We are continuing to work hard with each of them to get them into a less restrictive appropriate placement.
There are a number of them who are in state hospital. One of the great parts of the success story is that the state has made available to us a number of extended care psychiatric beds at Manhattan Psych Center, a unit called the THU, where people can get that long-term hospitalization that it takes to help somebody recover from the ravages of homelessness.
It’s not something that you can deal with within a few days or even often a couple of weeks, but make no mistake about it, with every individual, hospitalization is not the end in itself. It is a means to an end and we’re working really hard with each of those folks to try and get them back into a community placement.
Question: [inaudible] the involuntary transports, the NYPD, are you tracking how many of these 137 per week are actually admitted to hospitals?
Mayor Adams: We’ll get you the exact breakdown to the data that we have available. The team will get that for you. We really want everyone to understand what was done previously.
One, those individuals you see who repeatedly live on our subway systems, on our streets, on our street corners, there was no clarity for outreach workers and police officers to combine their efforts on addressing it. We walked past them.
In some cases, we gave them care, they were going to the hospital, they would get some form of medication probably for a day. We release them the next day, they’ll go back out again.
This revolving door will continue until the person does something like a Michele Gold case. At that time, that person was arrested and taken to Rikers Island. Almost 50 percent of the people are dealing with mental health issues, almost 18 percent are dealing with severe mental health issues.
Rikers Island has been our treatment for the most part. We are saying no to that now. We are saying, we’re not going to allow these individuals who are our neighbors to reach this point where we use incarceration instead of the support. And we will give you the data that we have of showing exactly where they’re located, what happened with those 54. We’ll break them down.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: And I just want to say a quick statistic that it’s my understanding that when you have a clinician who does and initiates the removal, that the likelihood that the person stays in the hospital is higher, which we think is why we want to have more clinicians doing this and working here. So, that’s a good stat.
Question: Mayor, I’m wondering, the Times did an investigation of 94 people who were mentally ill and fell through the cracks, ended up potentially hurting themselves or others, but none of those people were on the two lists the city used in terms of severity of mental illness or resistance to treatment. So, I’m wondering if you could explain how people are chosen for those lists.
And my second question is that private hospitals have been resistant to helping the city with this issue. I’m wondering, are you guys taking any specific steps to sort of force private hospitals to help the city deal with this difficult issue?
Commissioner Molly Wasow Park, Department of Social Services: Good morning. I’m Molly Wasow Park. I’m the commissioner for the Department of Social Services. With respect to the 94 cases, which each and every one of those represents a tragedy, it is a tragedy… Those are tragedies that occurred over the course of a decade.
So in that period of time, the Department of Homeless Services and my colleagues here served probably well over a million individuals experiencing homelessness. So, I do think it is important to put those numbers into context.
In terms of selecting the list, we are taking input from the outreach workers, from all of our not-for-profit partners who are identifying the clients that they have seen over and over again, people who they have worked with who they know have a complex series of issues because they have seen them over, in some cases, many years, understanding that those are individuals who need the full spectrum of services that all of my colleagues here can bring to the table.
Also working with people who might be in shelter who have had a series of incidents, they’ve exhibited behavioral health challenges while they’re in shelter, very often, long-term stayers. So, it’s a combination of qualitative and quantitative data.
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Private hospitals, the thing I’ll just say is that that’s a very important part of a character that needs to be involved in this. And so we are setting up meetings with them to share best practices and to make sure that they’re engaged in this process, because, you’re right, they’re a very important part of this.
Question: [Inaudible]… Funding or anything else to force them to participate more in this issue?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: I don’t think there is. Nothing that I could report at this time.
Question: Yes. I had a question about the 137 on average every week. How many of those are regularly coming in, being involuntarily? Is the city tracking that we are getting involuntarily committed one week and then the following week are the same ones?
And then to the point earlier, how many of those are going back into the streets not actually going to the hospital? And then wondering, on the list of a hundred people, what were the factors that, which is, and I know the commissioner mentioned that, but are there specific factors that you can detail?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: So, I think that’s… Well, commissioner, you can start again with that.
Commissioner Park: Sure. Thank you. We’re looking at a variety of both qualitative and quantitative data, taking input from our outreach worker teams. Really, it’s trying to identify the individuals where they have a complex series of issues. We have reason to believe that there is mental health challenges, there might be substance use issues and that the outreach team has engaged over many years, sometimes many months, many years, and the first tier set of the toolbox doesn’t work, right?
So, that BronxWorks, for example, does amazing work, their outreach workers do amazing work, but they have clients who, for a whole variety of reasons, that their regular tool isn’t going to work. So, bringing together the health agencies at both the state and local level, bringing together, really thinking about what kind of housing tools we can bring to the table and drilling down on individual’s needs on a very retail level is the right solution.
The mayor talked about 54 clients is a success story. It absolutely is, but also recognizing that it is 54 in a much larger universe. But the reason that we are so pleased with that 54 number is because it is really this very service rich, intensive, individualized solution. So, it isn’t a magic if this then that it is looking at human beings as human beings and trying to think about all the resources that we can bring to the table.
Question: How many of them are repeating?
Deputy Mayor Williams-Isom: Hold on a second. The only other thing I want to say is that I think this point about data is so important and we are happy that in this administration, we are now going to start to keep data in the way that we can drill down on these answers.
Kelly, I’m going to make sure that we get you the answer correctly because I want to make sure that we’re talking about 9.41s, 9.58s and how do we track that and where do people go?
Mayor Adams: And what we will do, we’ll make sure our team look at those 54, give you… Use this as a case study of the operation we put in place and show exactly where they’re going, because we want to analyze all of this. We’re going to look at the 135 average that we are removing a week, how many are returning back to the streets, how many are going to standing housing, how many are repeated individuals?
So, we want everyone to look at this because we’re trying to fine tune this over and over and over again so we could have a product that could be shared with our colleagues across the entire country. Every municipality is struggling with this issue and we’re digging into what is working and what is successful and we’re going to share that with you as much as possible.
As what Jeff just raised, the 90-something people that were not on this list, where are they? Why weren’t they determined to be part of our 100? So, this is what we are doing, but one thing we do know, we produced a product that is successful and now we must continue to make this product expand and become more and more successful. But we need help from Albany. We’re clear on that.
One of the biggest impediments was the lack of clarity, what outreach workers, police officers, hospital personnel, those who are in contact with these individuals, there was a real lack of clarity on what they could do and what they can’t do. And we are clearing that up. We announced, when we first announced the subway safety plan, we said we are taking that lack of clarity off the table. Okay. All right. We wanted to introduce…what’s the young man’s name?
Terry Brown: Terry Brown.
Mayor Adams: Come on, Terry, come here. This is the individual that Shams was talking about, who was on his pathway. One of our success stories. Come on up.
DaBaron: I’ve spoken about you.
Mayor Adams: Yes. Good luck to you, man. This is why these people here…this is why we do this work, man. We wish you a lot of luck in finding housing. You know you got your voucher?
Brown: I got my voucher.
Mayor Adams: You know you are on your way to the American dream?
Brown: I never thought it’d happen.
Mayor Adams: And it did, man.
Brown: It had to be sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Mayor Adams: That’s right.
Brown: This man’s hand came through.
Mayor Adams: Thank you.
Brown: He showed me the right direction. It’s legit. It’s legit. First time ever for an apartment right now. And I’m searching. I’m searching. I’m searching. Thanks to you guys, man.
Mayor Adams: Thank you. Thank you. This is why our housing plan is important. We got to build to make sure you get that housing. Thank you. Thank you.
November 29, 2023 NEW YORK NY
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