In what is one of the best pieces of investigative journalism in recent memory, WABC 7's Sarah Wallace documents the plight of homeless families in applying for shelter in New York City. Her investigation documents what we hear every day at the Coalition and what the Department of Homeless Services' data confirms-- the City of New York is finding more and more families ineligible for shelter and in the process, denying children a roof over their heads.
DHS data show that in the past year an average of 1,855 families were found ineligible for shelter each month. This is 16 percent higher than in 2009 and a remarkable 76 percent higher than in 2006. In November 2010, 66 percent of all families that applied for shelter were found ineligible. All of this is taking place at a time when a record number of families are becoming homeless and turning to the City for help.
So why is the City denying shelter to vulnerable families? In the end it comes down to a deterrence policy. Ultimately, DHS hopes that families they find ineligible will just go away. Unfortunately, this tactic flies in the face of logic and puts thousands of vulnerable children at risk by forcing families through a continuing merry-go-round of bureaucracy and in some cases to the streets, subways, and other public places.
In the coming days, the Coalition for the Homeless will be releasing a comprehensive report on families being denied shelter.
We would like to thank Sarah Wallace and WABC 7 for bringing to light this devastating reality.
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