Thursday, December 6, 2012 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Today’s Read: 20,000 Homeless Kids and Failed City Policies

Today, over 20,000 children go to sleep homeless in New York City. In a thorough piece last week, Alternet reporter Tana Ganeva laid out exactly how the policies of the Bloomberg administration have contributed to this ongoing crisis of family and child homelessness.

The administration blames the financial crisis, but as it turns out, there are ways to make the lives of the very poor tougher in the middle of a recession: you just need to subscribe to a governing philosophy that assumes the poor are both too lazy to get on their feet and working hard day and night to cheat the system. 

This governing philosophy has led Mayor Bloomberg to implement numerous failed policies, including cutting off homeless families from receiving access to federal housing programs.

For decades, Republican and Democratic mayors kept family homelessness down by giving homeless parents and their kids priority access to federal housing subsidies and rental vouchers. But in 2004, as part of the mayor's five-year plan to combat homelessness, the administration knocked homeless families from the top of the massive waiting list for federal rent subsidies. Administration officials, offering no empirical proof, claimed that poor people were scamming the system by moving into shelters in order to get Section 8 vouchers. (Like many conservative fantasies involving scheming minorities, it's no doubt true that someone, somewhere, cheated -- but studies show this was not a widespread problem straining the system.)

Since this disastrous policy decision, the number of men, women, and children sleeping in New York City shelters each night has increased almost 50 percent and is currently poised to top an unprecedented 50,000. Moreover, the number of families cycling through the system has skyrocketed. Today, close to 60 percent of all families entering shelter have been homeless before – up from just 25 percent prior to 2005.

For a mayor who prides himself on data collection, these numbers have been inexplicably ignored when making policy decisions. Indeed, the mayor has continued to dig in his heels in response to record homelessness and has in recent years chosen to spend $3,000/month to shelter each homeless family over the much more fiscally responsible solution of providing permanent housing to those in need.

The full article can be found here and is absolutely worth the read.

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