During the State of the City address, New York City Mayor Eric Adams discussed efforts to address the housing crisis and announced plans to provide free comprehensive health care to those experiencing homelessness.
Charley Willison is an assistant professor of public and ecosystem health at Cornell University and an expert on the impact of local governance policies on chronic homelessness in the U.S. She says homelessness will not be solved until we address permanent, accessible, affordable housing.
“City responses to homelessness are fragmented, most-often focusing on acute visibility – such as encampment removal and shelters – without a primary focus on the true cause of and solution to homelessness – housing – and zoning reform to allow for more housing.
“NYC has an extensive system of homeless outreach workers and shelter-services, yet homelessness will not be solved until the fervor to address the visibility of homelessness is met with greater fervor for permanent, accessible, affordable housing.
“The administration’s 2023 Working People’s Plan includes a discussion on new housing units, with goals for rent-control, affordable housing, including zoning reform to permit more units. While critical and encouraging, this should be integrated into the plan for free, comprehensive health care services for persons experiencing homelessness, by also expanding the supply of permanent, ‘Housing First’ units, beyond health care and mental health services in isolation.”