Tuesday, October 2, 2012 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Report: NY Homeless Kids Make Up 1 of Every 4 Homeless Kids in U.S. Shelters

According to an alarming new U.S. Census Bureau report, in 2010 more than one quarter of all homeless children in U.S. shelters was in New York. The bottom line: Mayor Bloomberg’s failed homeless policies are halting the Obama administration’s goal of ending family and child homelessness.

The Census Bureau report looked at 2010 data for people living in emergency and transitional shelters. The report found that, “Among the states, New York had the largest emergency and transitional shelter population (36,000)...”, representing 17 percent of the total U.S. shelter population. The report, available here (PDF), also found:

New York had the largest number of people under 18 years old at 11,000, representing 26 percent of the nation’s younger emergency and transitional shelter population. New York also had the largest number of people over 18 years old at 25,000, accounting for 15 percent of the nation’s older emergency and transitional shelter population.

Sam Roberts of the New York Times reported on the Census Bureau’s findings:

A lack of affordable housing is one reason that New York’s homeless population is breaking records. And the population of state residents in homeless shelters is also high compared with the overall population, according to a Census Bureau report released last week.

New York State residents, who represent about 6 percent of the nation’s population, comprised about 17 percent of homeless people living in emergency and transitional housing in the country in 2010, the bureau said. State residents make up one in four of the homeless people under age 18 and one in five women living in shelters in the United States, the bureau’s analysis found.

New York City residents, who make up less than 4 percent of the nation’s population, accounted for 14.1 percent of the nation’s shelter population, according to the bureau.

Even that figure appears to have been understated. It did not include people living outside on streets and sidewalks. Moreover, the federal estimate was lower than the city’s own count. The bureau placed the shelter population in 2010 at just under 30,000; the city’s count was about 38,000, plus more than 3,000 living on the streets and in the subway that January. By July 2012, it was more than 45,000.

Patrick Markee, a policy analyst with the city’s Coalition for the Homeless, attributed the soaring number of homeless to a combination of increasing poverty and high housing costs.

“The gap is wider here and has been widening over the last 10 years,” Mr. Markee said. “More and more families are priced out of housing, and there’s not enough affordable housing assistance to help families move out of shelters.”

The Times also profiled one the families in New York City shelters back in 2010:

For two-and-a-half years after she was evicted from her apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Ellen O’Shea lived with her young daughter in a shelter for homeless families.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, it was a 10 — the worst,” Ms. O’Shea, 50, recalled. Among other indignities, she said, she was bitten by a rat.

Ms. O’Shea left work as a telephone solicitor after suffering a heart attack in 2004. While surviving on food stamps and public assistance payments, she saved enough from her monthly $605 supplemental security income check to finally find another Brooklyn apartment with her 8-year-old daughter last June with help from the shelter’s housing specialist.

Back in 2010, President Obama released his “Opening Doors” plan to end child and family homelessness in ten years. As the Census Bureau report shows, New York City’s homeless population is a significant part of the nationwide problem.

However, two years since the release of the President’s plan, the number of homeless children and families is soaring in New York City, largely due to the failure of Mayor Bloomberg’s homeless policies – specifically, his refusal to target Federal housing assistance to help homeless kids and families escape the shelter system.

Thus, Mayor Bloomberg’s refusal to embrace proven solutions to reduce homelessness among New York City children is not only inflicting incalculable harm on those kids. It is also literally standing in the way of the national goal of ending child and family homelessness. When will mayor Bloomberg change course and abandon his failed policies?

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