Help Homeless New Yorkers Stay Safe During the Heat

The scorching summer weather has arrived a few days early in New York City, with high temperatures forecasted throughout the week. While the heat wave is an inconvenience for many New Yorkers, it can pose significant dangers for the thousands of homeless people living on the streets or in shelters without air-conditioning. Here are some resources to stay cool and safe during the heat wave:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Utilize a Drop-In Center during the day or evening, or enter shelter at these locations. It is important to note that homeless individuals and families always have a  right to shelter in New York City regardless of the weather, but there are expanded outreach and intake rules when Code Red is in effect.
  • Call 311 to locate a nearby cooling center. During periods of extreme heat, the City operates free cooling centers in air-conditioned public facilities, with most centers open during the daytime.

Read other tips on staying cool here.

During extreme weather, it is more important than ever that we all look out for our most vulnerable neighbors. If you see a homeless person in need, here are a few ways you can help:

  • Unless you feel unsafe doing so, ask if the person is ok, has someplace to go, or needs help.
  • Provide information about the above resources or the Coalition’s Grand Central Food Program (GCFP), which offers food and assistance 365 days of the year – even during dangerous weather. Click here for a list of stops.
  • Call 311 to let the City know that there is a person in need of emergency shelter. The City partners with nonprofit agencies that will send outreach workers to connect the individual to services.
  • If the person seems to require medical attention, call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Share this graphic with your friends and family, and spread the word on how to help our neighbors in need:

A Minimum-Wage Worker Can’t Afford a 2-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere in the U.S.

The economy’s booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Not even in Arkansas, the state with the cheapest housing in the country. One would need to earn $13.84 an hour — about $29,000 a year — to afford a two-bedroom apartment there. The minimum wage in Arkansas is $8.50 an hour.

Today’s Read: A Minimum-Wage Worker Can’t Afford a 2-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere in the U.S.

The persistent housing affordability crisis is the underlying driver of record homelessness. As rents continue to rise across the city, more and more New Yorkers are struggling to keep up. Many are one missed paycheck away from homelessness, and an estimated one-third of families with children in shelters include a working family member. Meanwhile, Mayor de Blasio has dedicated a paltry 5 percent of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan to housing homeless households, making it incredibly difficult for people to move out of shelters and into permanent, affordable housing.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach report shows that the lack of affordable housing is not limited to large cities like New York. NLIHC found that there is no county in the United States where a full-time worker earning the Federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage could afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent while working 40 hours per week.

The report details a particularly dire situation in the New York City region. The 2018 Fair Market Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $1,558 in the NYC area, and it is $1,789 for a 2-bedroom apartment. A person earning the minimum wage would need to work 115 hours per week to afford a 1-bedroom apartment or 132 hours per week to afford a 2-bedroom apartment. A “housing wage” for a 1-bedroom apartment – the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home without spending more than 30 percent of income on housing costs – would be $29.96, and for a 2-bedroom apartment it would be $34.40. New York is phasing in a $15 hourly minimum wage following a successful campaign by anti-poverty advocates, but even this increase will not enable working families to comfortably afford rent. The worsening housing affordability crisis demands urgent solutions by all levels of government, or even more families and individuals will be forced out of their homes and into shelters or the streets.

Tracy Jan covered the NLIHC report for The Washington Post:

“The housing crisis is growing, especially for the lowest-income workers,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “The rents are far out of reach from what the average renter is earning.”

Downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment will only help so much.

According to the report, a one-bedroom is affordable for minimum-wage workers in only 22 counties in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Those states all set their minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.

Nationally, one would have to earn $17.90 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment or $22.10 an hour for a two-bedroom rental. That’s based on the common budgeting standard of spending a maximum of 30 percent of income on housing.

The report estimates that renters nationally make an average of $16.88 an hour. That means even those making above minimum wage struggle to afford rent.

Housing costs have continued to rise with growing demand for rental housing in the decade since the Great Recession. At the same time, new rental construction has tilted toward the luxury market because of increasingly high development costs, the report said. The number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015.

“While the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income families,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said in the report.

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