Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city will move the homeless out of street encampments and work with city resources to ultimately move into permament housing. Here are the Mayor's remarks:
"Today, I want to announce that we're launching the next major step to end street homelessness in New York. Over the past six weeks, our newly named DHS Commissioner, Rob Hess, and his team have identified the 73 sites around our city where some 350 homeless men and women-usually in groups no larger than four or five-have set up makeshift shelters under highways, next to train trestles, and on our streets. They're living in degraded and unhealthy environments.
"These small clusters are largely invisible to most New Yorkers-but they're not invisible to us. And now we're partnering with community organizations and faith-based groups to talk to those homeless people.
"And, humanely, respectfully, and firmly, we'll work to get these men and women to enter supportive housing, enroll in treatment programs, or go into shelters.
"We will not be complacent to their suffering or enable it through our inaction. We're going to let them know that their days on the streets must come to an end. And we'll secure and clean up the places where they've been bedding down, to make sure that they won't be occupied again."
The locations of the encampments weren't divulged, but the NY Times says that the DHS will be working with the NYPD, Department of Sanitation and transit officials "to identify other sites, both outdoors and in vacant buildings" as it relocates the homeless. The Times article is definitely worth reading - quotes from people living in an Upper Manhattan encampment and some more context for the plan.
The city is trying to create 12,000 units of "supportive housing" - permanent housing with social services - for homeless families. NY1 pointed out that the Mayor has been traveling to Washington DC a lot in recent months, while the AP reports that Bloomberg's aides say these tactics will not involve law enforcement (which is what Rudy Giuliani used to deal with the homeless).
Here's a PDF from the DHS about what you can do to help end homelessness in the city (volunteer, donate, etc.). And if you see a homeless person who needs help on the street, call 311 and ask to speak with someone at Homeless Services - they have an outreach team that drives around the city and come by.