Just How Bad Is NYC Homelessness Crisis?

Jeff Foreman, Director of Policy
“57,000 is 57,000 too many.” That’s what the sign said that a Care for the Homeless client leader held up last year at a rally (featured here) on the steps of New York’s City Hall, after the media brought us the bad news that we’d set yet another record for the number of people experiencing homelessness in New York City shelters.

Last year over 111,000 people spent time in our city’s homeless shelters. More than 40,000 of them were children. Those figures, too, represent new high census figures for shelter populations.

Another way to think about it is that in HUD’s recently released Point-in-Time survey for a given day in January of 2013, there were 64,060 people in New York City’s homeless shelters or living on the streets. That’s a 13% increase in City homelessness, year-over-year, at the same time the country as a whole decreased homelessness by 4%. That study found about 1-in-10 homeless people in America was in New York City!

We do know the City’s Department of Homeless Services census doesn't include all people experiencing homelessness. It doesn't account for families in short-term emergency domestic violence shelters, or sleeping in runaway/homeless youth centers, or emergency HASA (HIV-AIDS Services Administration) shelters, or sleeping in faith based nonpublic shelters or some veteran emergency beds.   
York City shelters.

In one recent Care for the Homeless speakers' bureau presentation, one client began with the photos of her colleague with the sign: "57,000 is 57,000 too many." She said, "When I was cold and hungry on the street, I used to say that even one is too many if they want a home like I did."

And, of course, that's the truth.

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