The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released its “2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress” estimating 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness either on the streets or in shelters on a given night in January, 2014. The information wasn’t surprising or really new, but it underscores the need to prevent, fight and end homelessness in New York City.
New HUD Secretary Julian Castro pointed out the report indicates a reduction in homelessness across the U.S. of 10% since January of 2010. Unfortunately New York City hasn’t fared as well.
The HUD report estimates 80,590 people experiencing homelessness in the Empire State on that January evening – about 13% of the entire national estimate – representing a 4.1% year-over-year increase and a 28.7% increase over the last seven years. HUD reported 67,810 people experiencing homelessness just in New York City, meaning more than 1 in every 10 person experiencing homelessness on HUD’s census night was in our city. That’s a 6% increase in New York City from HUD’s 2013 estimate.
One encouraging thing for New York City was HUD’s finding that we had among the lowest rates of “unsheltered homeless people” at 5%, so that 19 of every 20 homeless people in New York City aren’t living unsheltered on the streets or in other public places.
CFH believes poor policies created modern day homelessness and better policy choices can help end it. Though homelessness continues to grow in New York City (up about 9% so far in 2014), we celebrate programs launched by the city administration and City Council to fight that trend. We won’t see much statistical improvement until these programs have the opportunity to get up and running, but here are five great first steps the city has launched:
- The Mayor and City Council increased city anti-eviction and homelessness prevention programs (the best way to fight homelessness is to prevent it) by 50%.
- The city reinstated NYCHA’s historic priority of a small number of newly available public housing units targeted to people in homeless shelter.
- The city launched three separate “Living in the Communities” (LINC) programs estimated to eventually provide rental subsidy “certificate letters” to about 3,000 households. The programs are targeted to 1. ) homeless families with children in family shelter with a working adult; 2.) homeless families in shelter the longest with either earned or unearned income; and, 3.) households in either Domestic Violence or homeless shelters affected by domestic violence.
There’s a need to do more - that’s clear from the HUD report and our record DHS Shelter Census – but this is a real start.