Report: Record 50,000 homeless now in NYC

bowery mission thanksgiving
People line up outside the Bowery Mission on Thanksgiving 2012, waiting for a meal. (Credit: Danielle Tcholakian)

City records show that the number of people sleeping in shelters nightly this year averaged over 50,000, a number that a new report from the Coalition for the Homeless states is a record high “since modern homelessness emerged three decades ago.” 

The report notes that these numbers do not include “the thousands of New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy, many of whom comprise extremely low-income households.” The city testified last week that around 1,500 families are still in hotels, YMCAs, and shelters, but Patrick Markee at the Coalition said there are “obviously many more still doubled up with friends or family.”

The report directly calls out Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and holds him responsible for the rise, alleging that had he not discontinued practices that existed under the previous three mayors, the “homeless shelter population” would not have “risen by a staggering 61 percent and the number of homeless families [by] 73 percent.”

“Mayor Bloomberg’s elimination of all affordable housing assistance for homeless families is a major factor behind the historic homelessness crisis,” the report says. “Previous New York City mayors, from Ed Koch to David Dinkins to Rudy Giuliani, targeted Federal and City housing resources to help homeless families relocate from shelters to stable, permanent housing.”

Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond called that accusation “misleading,” noting that permanent housing funding, known as Section 8, was not cut by the mayor, but has been crippled by an absence of financial support from the federal government.

“You can’t have a homeless housing program that is based on something that doesn’t exist,” Diamond said. “It’s unfair to people in the shelter system to tell them this is the answer when it’s not the reality.”

A DHS spokesperson explained that “because it comes from the federal government we never know how many vouchers we will receive; it’s a spigot that turns on and off at the will of Congress.”

The spokesperson also added, “We are not facing the same economy that the previous three mayors faced, we are not facing the same federal resources that the previous three mayors faced. The Coalition needs to realize that it is no longer 1970, we are in a different time that requires different solutions.”

 

Dispute over the Advantage program

According to Diamond, there are 25 percent less people entering the shelter system in February 2013 than there were in February 2011. The cause of the increase in overall numbers, Diamond said, is the loss of the state-funded Advantage program, which used to provide rent subsidy funds.

Diamond noted that the Coalition lobbied to shutdown the Advantage program, which he said would have granted DHS $150 million to help subsidize the rent of working homeless people moving out of the shelter system.

Bloomberg echoed that point at a press conference today, saying that when the state Advantage program was cut, the city lost federal monies as well.

The Coalition released a statement in response from the organization’s president, Mary Brosnahan, in which she said that “Advantage families were returning to shelter in record numbers.”

A DHS spokesperson emphasized the city’s focus on securing employment for the homeless as “a self-sustaining, investing solution,” and said the city has “seen nearly 20,000 homeless families go to work since 2010 with assistance from this administration,” through various programs, work supports, trainings and education.

The spokesperson also said that New York City is unique in the nation because the city is “mandated by law and court order that every eligible homeless individual and family has a right to shelter.”

In fact, families must undergo an application process to prove eligibility before they are given shelter, but homeless adults currently do not have to prove eligibility to stay in a shelter, though the city has been working in court to change that.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Apple says its systems not to blame for…

By Edwin Chan and Christina FarrSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The week before a crucial launch of its new iPhone, Apple Inc said intimate photos of…

Local

Tallest residential building planned for lower Manhattan

A residential tower planned for lower Manhattan will soar 1,356 feet in the air -- just 12 feet shy of 1 World Trade Center. When…

Local

Bronx man commits suicide by decapitation

A Bronx man committed suicide Monday morning in the Hunts Point area of the Bronx by decapitating himself. According to the NYPD, the 51-year-old man…

Local

Top cops enroll in Twitter course at John…

NYPD officers are reportedly getting a lesson on the best way to use 140 characters or less. The New York Post reported Tuesday top officers…

Arts

Pop culture and prostitutes: New Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit at…

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec documented the cult of celebrity and the rise of pop entertainment in his prints, posters and lithographs — now on display at MoMA.

Arts

PHOTO: Extreme artist Eskil Ronningsbakken balances unicycle on…

Extreme artist’ Eskil Ronningsbakken balances on the edge of a cliff face at 4,600 feet – on a unicycle. The Norwegian travels across the globe, balancing over vertiginous ravines, tall…

Music

Hear two previously unreleased Adele songs

Missing some Adele in your life? Two previously unreleased songs from the singer have appeared online.

Music

Lincoln Center just made 'Lord of the Rings'…

Middle Earth already has sweeping vistas, a hero's journey and technology-revolutionizing special effects. But next April, the Lincoln Center will add another dimension to Peter Jackson's…

NFL

Michael Vick set to be weekly guest with…

Mike Francesa may need to backtrack from his harsh commentary of Michael Vick now that the Jets backup quarterback will be a weekly guest on his show.

NFL

Jets expect to make playoffs after sitting on…

The same pundits who predicted the Jets would be woeful a season ago are now eying the playoffs for this revamped team.

NFL

Antonio Allen returns to practice after concussion

Antonio Allen was cleared to practice again following his concussion two weeks ago.

Sports

Belinda Bencic leads crop of young stars serving…

Belinda Bencic, a 17-year-old Swiss Miss, beat two Top-10 players before suffering a disappointing loss Tuesday in the quarterfinals.

Parenting

In defense of making a mess during playtime

"Recipes for Play" authors Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener think playtime should involve the five senses and making a mess is part of the fun.

Wellbeing

Jason Hope helps push anti-aging efforts forward

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article When it comes to age-related illness, the direction of modern medicine seems more reactive than proactive. In…

Wellbeing

Today's Doomsday preppers: a closer look at survivalist…

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. The term “Doomsday prepper” is often associated with the paranoid, anti-government stereotype of the 1990s. The truth…

Education

These college students think breakfast is the most…

  It should be no surprise that the city that never sleeps is also home to the most students who like to order food in…