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
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

MLB

Jets 2014 regular season schedule

The Jets will play three prime-time games — against the Bears, Patriots and Dolphins — as well as a CBS national game in Week 2 at Green Bay.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."