State of the Homeless 2010

Amidst Record Homelessness, Paterson Budget Cuts Will Deepen NYC Crisis

Read the complete State of the Homeless 2010 report here.

March 2, 2010 - Coalition for the Homeless today released its eleventh "State of the Homeless" report, an annual assessment of homelessness in New York City. The report finds that, amidst the worst year for homelessness since the city began collecting data 25 years ago, a record $104 million in proposed cuts to New York City's homeless adult shelters, homeless prevention services, and permanent housing in Governor Paterson's state budget will deepen the city's homelessness crisis. 

According to the State of the Homeless 2010, the past year was the worst year for homelessness since the city began collecting data 25 years ago, with a record breaking 39,000 homeless New Yorkers sleeping in municipal shelters each night; a new peak of 39,256 adults and children slept in shelter on the night of January 31, 2010. This year, city also saw over 10,000 homeless families in shelters each night for the first time ever. Since last year, the number of homeless adults and children in New York City shelters each year has increased by 7 percent.

"Over the last year, the number of homeless families, children, and adults in municipal shelters set new records again and again. New York City's shelters are already operating at maximum capacity and every month more New Yorkers are finding themselves homeless and in need of assistance. This is exactly the wrong time for New York State to be cutting back on aid to municipal shelters and other vital programs to assist the homeless. Governor Paterson's proposed budget will make New York City's homeless crisis worse and could force shelters to close their doors," said Mary Brosnahan, Executive Director of Coalition for the Homeless.

Paterson Administration Proposes Crippling Cuts to Single Adult Shelters Which Could Increase Street Homelessness

The new report analyzes Gov. Paterson's executive budget proposal, which cuts more than $104 million in funding for homeless services - the largest such cut in New York history. Gov. Paterson proposes eliminating $88 million in funding for the city's municipal shelters for homeless adults, including emergency shelter assistance for people living with AIDS and other medical problems. To fill part of the resulting funding gap, the Paterson administration makes the unbelievable claim that the City of New York can raise some $36 million by charging poor homeless adults "rent" for shelter - an unrealistic and counterproductive policy that would force longer shelter stays and higher costs for taxpayers.

The Paterson administration also claims that a portion of the $88 million cutback will come from homeless adults' welfare payments. However, according to the NYC office of Management and Budget, only 24 percent of homeless single adults in NYC have active welfare cases. Longstanding bureaucratic barrier prevent most homeless single adults - who have high rates of mental and physical health problems - from securing welfare benefits.

The report concludes that the Governor's proposed cuts in state funding will force New York City to dramatically increase local spending on shelter - at a time of City budget deficits -- or to close shelters at a time of rising homelessness. Ultimately, Governor Paterson's budget plan could force thousands of homeless adults out of shelters into the streets.

"Forcing poor homeless individuals to pay for shelter out of their meager disability benefits and paychecks will prevent them from saving money for a security deposit or first month's rent. Governor Paterson's plan is shortsighted and will result in more New Yorkers remaining homeless for longer periods of time," added Brosnahan.

Data from the past year shows that the number of homeless single adults in the city's municipal shelters is already rising, at a time when shelters are at capacity. There are currently on average more than 7,900 single adults residing in shelters each night, 11 percent more than last year. During the last city fiscal year, more than 29,000 different homeless single adults slept in New York City shelters.

Governor Paterson's budget would also cut homelessness prevention services and permanent housing options that would land more families in shelter and force families and individuals to remain in shelter for longer periods of time. His cuts include:

• $5 million cut to permanent supportive housing for homeless families and $2.7 million to permanent supportive housing services;
• $6 million cut to homelessness prevention and aftercare services for formerly homeless families and individuals, which help at-risk families and individuals avoid homelessness;
• $2 million cut to emergency and crisis homeless services.

"The Governor's proposed cuts to vital homeless services will force the city into a terrible lose-lose choice: either cutting services when they are needed more than ever or being charged with creating funding for shelters during a recession budget. With the city's historic levels of homelessness still rising, our shelter system has already been stretched to the point where we are literally running out of beds for homeless adults. These devastating cuts are simply a recipe for disaster for already overburdened shelters," said New York City Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the City Council General Welfare Committee.