A look at New York City’s homeless crisis – Then and Now

Some say that the streets of New York City are beginning to resemble the "bad old days," littered with trash and the homeless found everywhere.

A lot has changed in the past 35 years and not all of it is good.

"We don't even try to help the most seriously mentally ill anymore," DJ Jaffe says.

Jaffe is the author of "Insane Consequences" and studies homelessness and the role of mental illness.

"The problem is solvable if we deliver treatment to the most severely mentally ill," Jaffe says.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, in recent years homelessness in New York City has reached the highest level since the Great Depression. Moreover, 14 percent of the entire nation’s homeless are in New York City.

"To improve this is to deliver treatment to the untreated seriously mentally ill adults," said DJ Jaffe, "It is not to invest in children's programs.  It is not to invest in gender identity programs.  It's not to divert mental health funds to social services." 

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he is deploying mental health outreach teams through the Department of Health and the ThriveNYC mental health program.  

However, Jaffe believes that current efforts simply aren’t enough, with just 12 percent of the $1B ThriveNYC plan allocated towards treating the seriously mentally ill.

"Throwing money at mental health, improving mental wellness in the masses is not the same as delivering treatment to the seriously mentally ill," Jaffe said.

FOX 5 News reached out to the mayor's office for comment but had not responded.