Homeless outreach initiative to be led by new health and human services official

A homeless person sleeps on a bench.
A homeless person sleeps on a bench.

Homeless outreach initiative to be led by new health and human services official

The new deputy mayor spent his career addressing HIV/AIDS and veteran's issues
November 15, 2019

New York City unveiled a new outreach program to train 18,000 city employees from five agencies, ranging from the health department to the parks department, to consult 311 when encountering unsheltered homeless people, The New York Times reports. And leading the initiative is the newly announced deputy mayor for health and human services, Raul Perea-Henze

Henze started his career at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, where he developed its infectious disease initiatives and coordinated early responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When he joined the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in 2010, Henze became the first openly gay Latino to become a sub-cabinet secretary. Over the course of three years there, he managed efforts to address veteran homelessness as well as mental illness and substance abuse. His new role with the city will give him oversight over numerous social service agencies addressing homelessness, health, child welfare, domestic violence, and food insecurity. 

But Henze arrives at a time when advocates have called on the city to provide more housing for the homeless, a population that has been growing by record numbers during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure. 

And the newly announced initiative failed to impress the Coalition for the Homeless. “The problem with street homelessness is not a lack of outreach workers; the problem is they are not being offered something meaningful like housing or a low-barrier shelter,” Giselle Routhier, policy director with the organization, told the Times. 

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.