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De Blasio: NYC to open new homeless shelters, move away from cluster sites

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Mayor blasio000001By Reuters

The city plans to open 90 new shelters as officials struggle to get a handle on homelessness, which has risen over the past few decades to its highest level in almost a century, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.

The move is intended to ease crowding in current shelters and allow the city to move away from housing people in cluster sites, which have been criticized as expensive and unsafe.

Some 62,000 people, mostly family groups, sleep in the city’s shelters each night, a figure that has doubled over the past 15 years to reach its highest point since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to city figures.

The crisis has become a central point of election-year frustration for the Democratic mayor, who ran on a campaign promise of creating housing equity for poor and working-class New Yorkers.

The plan calls for 20 new shelters over the next 10 months, another 20 next year and five per year after that across all five city boroughs, bringing the total to 377 shelters. In addition, 30 existing shelters will be expanded.

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