NYC homeless outreach program

- Three months into an ambitious plan to fight homelessness, many of those who need help wonder if the mayor's policies are working. Bill de Blasio is now doubling down on his strategy.

"Sometimes it's kind of difficult to keep all of this stuff together," said James Branch, who is homeless and has lived in Thompkins Square Park for nearly a decade. "You have to carry everything that you own. This here is basically what I have."

Branch was at his usual park bench Tuesday afternoon when Mayor de Blasio gave an update on a new homeless outreach program.

"HOME-STAT is based on notion that we have to have a plan for each and every person who is homeless on our streets," de Blasio said.

It's an ambitious goal, but the program has been in place for three months. The mayor is adding three more homeless counts every year, in addition to the federally mandated HOPE count.

NYPD officers have also received special training to deal with the homeless.

"We are taking more than just the law enforcement approach to the challenge," said Chief Bill Morris of Manhattan South. "Many police officers now are trained in crisis intervention training."

You will also see 312 street outreach workers canvas the streets and get to know the homeless. They'll post their findings for the public to see on the city's website every day.

"Are walking every single block from Canal Street to 145th Street, Manhattan," de Blasio said.

But those outreach workers often get pushback.

"Sometimes it's building that trust or reengaging an individual," said Cesar Vanegas of Goddard Riverside Community Center.

Two of them offered Branch shelter, but he politely declined and will spend another night on his usual bench.

"It's not a positive attitude," Branch said. "I'm looking to get my finances straight so I can get my house and go on and live my life."

If you see someone who is homeless and needs help you're urged to call 311 or put in a complaint through the 311 app. Give a description of that person and their exact location, and the street outreach teams promise to go to that location and help that person within the hour.

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