Homelessness falls 12 percent from 2007, city finds

SHEEPSHEAD BAY - For the third year in a row, homelessness dropped on New York City streets, according to the results of a count released Tuesday.

The Department of Homeless Services claims the number dropped by 12 percent from the same time last year. The latest figure is down 25 percent since the first count in 2005. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says no children were among the 3,300 homeless people found in this year's count.

DHS credits "safe haven" shelters with helping get 1,100 people off the streets since 2005. The safe havens are more lenient than traditional homeless shelters, allowing people to come and go as they please without curfews.

More than 2,500 volunteers combed streets and subway stations on a cold January night this year for the third Homeless Outreach Population Estimate count.

DHS uses the information to evaluate its outreach efforts and to monitor whether it's on track for Bloomberg's goal of a two-thirds reduction in homelessness by the end of 2009.

While the city is touting success, some critics say more needs to be done. The Partnership for the Homeless claims this year's 12 percent drop is inaccurate, citing that HOPE volunteers don't take into account people who sleep on floors or sofas.

For Bloomberg's news conference on HOPE count results, go to channel 612 on your iO digital cable box and select iO Extra.

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