De Blasio Postpones Policy Briefing on NYC Homeless Initiative

New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio and a group of newly-elected mayors from across the country speak to the media outside of the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.

Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio postponed an announcement of a sweeping anti-homelessness initiative that would boost services and housing for the mentally ill, saying the plan isn’t finished.

The mayor’s office rescheduled for Thursday a background briefing and a roundtable it had planned for Wednesday, featuring mental-health and social-welfare officials.

“We need to finalize an aspect of the policy,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.

The new policy, developed with participation by the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, would add $1 billion to the $5 billion already budgeted over the next four years to deal with the homeless population. It comes at a time when the New York Post is relentlessly criticizing the mayor for not doing enough to deter what it says is an increase in public urination and bathing in public fountains.

The mayor has said homelessness in city shelters has declined by at least 2,000 since hitting a high point last year, and that the increased presence of vagrants is partly due to warm weather and the high cost of housing. Last week, he joined Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to announce 10,000 patrol officers would be trained to encourage homeless people to seek help in the city’s shelter and mental-health system.

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