The average number of people sleeping in NYC homeless shelters each night over the last year jumped 7%, up to 53,615 in January 2014 — a record for the city, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
At the same time, the number of children in shelters hit a new high of 22,712, an increase of 8%, according to the Coalition’s annual State of the Homeless Report, which was released Wednesday.
The Coalition attributes the rise to the widening gap between income and the cost of rent, as well as policies implemented by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, such as expanding the use of for-profit shelter operators.
The report cites data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which says that from 2002 to 2011, the city lost 39% — nearly 400,000 — of affordable apartments for households earning below “twice the poverty line”, defined as $39,580 for a family of three.
Between 2007 and 2011, renter incomes fell by 6.8% while median apartment rents rose by 8.5%.
Patrick Markee, the Coalition’s deputy executive director for Policy, said de Blasio’s campaign promises as well as discussions with the mayor’s office indicate the new administration will reverse many of Bloomberg’s policies.
One of his de Blasio’s steps as mayor was to reinstate the “Code Blue” policy that ensures homeless families have access to shelter on the coldest nights of the year, and last month he announced a plan to reform the city’s two largest shelters.
“In 10 short weeks the de Blasio administration has already taken important steps to protect families from homelessness,” Markee said.
In the report, the Coalition offers specific solutions for the city to implement, such as long-term housing subsidies, focusing on homelessness prevention and converting cluster-site shelters — apartments that are being used as temporary shelter — back into permanent housing.
“We know these are things they are working on,” Markee said. “But the details matter and we’re anxiously awaiting to see what happens.”