Historic rise in NYC homelessness

| msilverstein@queenscourier.com |

Last week the Coalition For The Homeless released a report on the state of homelessness in New York City for 2013. The report was disturbing and alarming.

According to the report 50,000 New Yorkers are sleeping each night in the shelter system. A shocking statistic is that of those New Yorkers sleeping in the shelter system each night 21,000 are children. More people are now homeless in New York City since the Great Depression. The rate of homelessness in New York City is up 19 percent in the past year. In total the rate of homelessness during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s term in office has risen 61 percent and the rate of homelessness among families is up 73 percent.

As the Bloomberg administration winds down the issue of homelessness will be a major issue for whomever becomes our next mayor. We should ask the mayoral candidates what their plans for ending homelessness are. To date I can’t say I have heard any real plans to end homelessness from any of them.

My job with America Works of New York, Inc. compels me to see firsthand just how big this issue is. Every day, dozens of New Yorkers, many of whom have children, come to our offices looking for jobs and are homeless. Helping them find jobs is one thing, helping them find suitable housing is a whole other thing. According to this report the biggest factor contributing to the historic rise in homelessness is that this is the first time NYC no longer provides housing assistance to help homeless children and families move from shelters to permanent housing.

If we are going to remain the greatest city in the world, we must do something to address this issue. We must bring back housing assistance to help people living in shelters find permanent housing. We must also come up with serious plans to build new affordable housing for low income New Yorkers. If we don’t do these things we risk the number of homeless New Yorkers to rise even further.

To read the Coalition For The Homeless report visit: http://www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/pages/state-of-the-homeless-2013