NEW YORK — The number of homeless on city streets has dropped 12 percent, according to a federal survey that canvassed the streets earlier this year, the mayor's office announced this week.
The Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) survey found that there were 2,794 homeless individuals living on the street overnight during its count on Feb. 9, down from 3,182 last year, the mayor's office said in a press release Thursday.
The study comes as homelessness in the city reaches levels that haven't been this bad since the Great Depression, according to advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, which estimates there were 60,410 homeless people, including 23,783 children, in city shelters as of February.
De Blasio has come under fire for refusing to publicly address concerns about rising homelessness, including a spike in 311 complaints, until his own police commissioner admitted there was an issue.
The mayor said in his release that his administration will continue its local homeless outreach initiative, HOME-STAT, scheduling quarterly overnight counts starting in May, as well as releasing a monthly report on the program's findings.
"The new HOME-STAT dashboard and our quarterly counts will ensure that we have accurate information about where and who the street homeless are, so we can continue the hard work of finding them a home," Mayor De Blasio said.
The HOPE count also found that this year's homeless population on the streets has declined over the past decade. There were 36 percent fewer people living on the streets compared to nine years ago.
Mary Brosnahan, the president from Coalition for the Homeless, responded to the results of the HOPE count saying that she disagrees with the methodology used for the canvassing.
"Any rational person would agree that sending volunteers out on a single, bitterly-cold night in the dead of winter and attempting to count the heads of those who appear homeless is a preposterous way to accurately gauge the magnitude of the problem," she said. "Nobody who has spent more than thirty seconds walking through the city would believe that street homelessness has declined in the past year – let alone by double digits."