State of the Homeless 2013

This year the number of homeless people sleeping each night in the New York City shelter system surpassed 50,000 people for the first time since modern homelessness emerged three decades ago. That grim milestone includes more than 21,000 homeless children. More children and adults are homeless now in New York City than at any time since the Great Depression. New York City’s record homeless shelter population continues to grow at an alarming rate – up 19 percent in the past year alone. And this does not even include the thousands of New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom comprise extremely low-income households. In total the homeless shelter population under Mayor Bloomberg has risen by a staggering 61 percent and the number of homeless families has increased 73 percent. During Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, New York City homelessness has increased both in absolute numbers and at a higher rate than under Mayors Koch, Dinkins, or Giuliani. And recent Federal data show that New York City homelessness has increasingly become a driving force in the wider national homelessness crisis, particularly among children and families. Perhaps the single biggest contributor to unprecedented homelessness in New York City is that, for the first time since modern homelessness began, the City now provides no housing assistance to help homeless children and families move from shelters to permanent housing. New York City’s next mayor will confront a historic homelessness crisis. But the next mayor has the opportunity to embrace proven solutions that will not only reduce the number of homeless children and adults languishing in shelters, but save millions of taxpayer dollars spent on a costly and growing municipal shelter system.

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