NYC homelessness in Brooklyn, Bronx largely due to domestic violence, evictions, report says

Domestic violence and evictions are displacing families, particularly in eastern Brooklyn and the South Bronx, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness’s report noted that nearly 12,700 families, with some 10,750 children under 5, lived in city shelters at the end of 2018, a 55% increase from 2011. Although data shows domestic violence directed 30% of households into the shelter system — and evictions, 25% — the trajectory often includes multiple stressors, according to Chloe Stein, the principal policy analyst for the institute. 

"These triggers of homelessness don’t occur in a vacuum," Stein said, noting the report culled data from the city and U.S. Census Bureau and pulled from interviews with families in city shelters. "These families were experiencing trauma on top of trauma, where they were experiencing violence, then lost their job, and then they were kicked out of their homes."

The report pinpointed a few neighborhoods, where families struggled to remain in their homes. In East New York, 650 families entered the shelter system; followed by Mott Haven, with 648 families; and Bedford-Stuyvesant, with 550 families, according to data from the fiscal year 2015.

Stein said these neighborhoods are home to more residents who lack high school diplomas and have higher rates of unemployment and low-wage jobs.

"For homeless and low-income students, education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty," the report said. 

Stein recommended that the city tailor its efforts to curb homelessness based on the neighborhood. She said the city should consider opening job training and educational centers in neighborhoods with few good job options to assist families before they wind up in a shelter. 

"Every neighborhood has different drivers of family homelessness," Stein said. 

Issac McGinn, a representative for the city’s Department of Homeless Services, said the overall number of homeless New Yorkers has leveled off over the past two years. He said the department has worked to help families exit the shelter system through its ongoing five-year plan, called Turning the Tide on Homelessness.

"Our transformation plan puts people first, offering them the opportunity to get back on their feet in their home boroughs, closer to support networks, including schools," McGinn said in a statement.