NYC businesses pledge $8m to support Breaking Ground homeless service

Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday a new homeless initiative he hopes will allow easier access to social services for the unhoused.

Adams revealed that New York City’s business community has pledged over $8 million to support the expansion of Breaking Ground, a nonprofit social services organization. Dubbed the Homeless Assistance Fund, the collective public-private initiative looks to provide health resources to those currently experiencing homelessness while also accelerating the process of individuals living with mental illness into treatment programs and housing.

“I think far too often, we fail to recognize the foundation or role our business community continues to play in our city and their level of benevolence. It’s not always something that they talk about. They just do the work every day. Sixty-one businesses came together to raise approximately $8 million for this important partnership with Breaking Ground. We can achieve great success when all New Yorkers come together, and that is what we’re seeing now. When you think of this initiative: the Homeless Assistance Fund, a public-private partnership, to tackle street homelessness,” Adams said. 

The mayor hopes this new funding will strengthen the city’s existing homeless outreach initiatives, including the Subway Safety Plan, that Adams boasts has connected approximately 2,000 individuals to shelters since the beginning in February. He also stated that Breaking Ground teams will assist unhoused New Yorkers in finding housing, accessing benefits and take care of immediate needs (clothing, food, and medication). Adams underscored that Breaking Ground has the ability to do things the city cannot, such as going into private locations and making real partnerships to provide mental health services.  

“You see it every day. This administration has made it clear we are not going to just walk past our brothers and sisters who have fallen on hard times, our fellow New Yorkers. And we want to continue to meet homeless people where they are and build that trust and the partnership that’s needed to move them into permanent housing. This initiative will offer them the assistance they urgently need. And I said this, then at the beginning of my administration, I’ll say that say it now: There is no dignity to living on the street, and we can do more and we must do more and today we are doing more. We’re going to restore the sense of confidence and trust in the city,” Adams said. 

The issues of drug use and large quantities of homelessness cropping up around high-traffic areas such as Midtown Manhattan were addressed, that not only sees daylight needle use but also those suffering from mental illness on seemingly every street corner.

“This will allow us to have nearly 100 more outreach workers in high-density areas, in midtown Manhattan, Lower Manhattan and in Brooklyn, Downtown Brooklyn, and it will allow us to collaborate and coordinate with our city-funded outreach teams to provide additional levels of service and to reach people that we ordinarily wouldn’t reach,” Brenda Rosen, president and CEO, Breaking Ground. 

Breaking Ground has held a Connect 2 Care pilot over the past two years where they were able to identify, engage and house individuals who fell through the cracks of the homeless shelter system. Rosen states they now have the opportunity to expand this pilot to hundreds of more individuals who may have otherwise not received services due to their location.

Adams also stated during the press conference his displeasure with the homeless budget and the many restrictions the city faces in how solutions are conducted. Additionally, he said that the homeless crisis has been exacerbated with the influx of asylum seekers, so it is incumbent upon his administration to ensure every dollar has been spent appropriately. At the moment he is not satisfied until he sees a full forensic audit on those dollars. 

“I’m not pleased with many things in the homeless budget and how we have to do things differently. As we even looked at the many housing units that we had unfilled when we inherited over 2000. When I took office, we were able to expeditiously fill 1000 of those and our number is probably higher now. But we are going to examine the budget, see where we’re spending our dollars. And the goal is how to get people into permanent housing, particularly housing where our street homelessness to get the wraparound services they deserve. And that’s the complexity,” Adams said.