For the first time ever, the number of homeless children has reached 19,500, an increase of 18 percent over last year. Current trends suggest the number of homeless children will reach an unprecedented 20,000 in the coming months.
An array of research has shown that homelessness has deeply harmful effects on children. Studies have shown that homeless children are more likely to experience acute and chronic health problems, including respiratory infections, ear disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders. Additionally, homeless children also have greater instances of developmental delays, clinical depression, anxiety, and behavior problems.
Many of these negative factors also contribute to underachievement in school for many homeless children, who have been found to miss more school days, perform lower on tests, and be more likely to repeat grades.
Current City data illustrate the challenges homeless students continue to face just getting to school. In 2012, homeless students in New York City shelters missed an average of 31 days of school, putting their average school attendance rate at 82.7 percent—well below the required 90 percent to advance to the next grade.
Amidst this homelessness crisis, the Bloomberg administration’s response has been to turn away more and more families at the front door of the shelter system. In 2012, only 35 percent of all applicant families were found eligible for shelter, compared with over 50 percent in 2007.
All in all, the crisis of homelessness in New York City has truly reached unprecedented levels. Our report calls for real, effective solutions to the problem of homelessness, including allocating existing affordable housing resources to homeless families, and investing in a new local rent subsidy. Read the full report here.