Since mass homelessness emerged 30 years ago, every New York City mayor has had some plan to house homeless families - until now.
Mayor Bloomberg announced his new budget for Fiscal Year 2012, and it contains ZERO funding to move homeless families out of shelters. His decision to defund all housing options comes just as homelessness in NYC has reached yet another all-time record. In FY 2010, 113,553 DIFFERENT people went through the municipal shelter system. That includes 42,888 children.
It also includes a record 28,977 families - 10 percent more than the previous year and 81 percent more than when Bloomberg took office. That's right - there has been an 81 percent increase in family homelessness since Michael Bloomberg became mayor.
The details on this were widely reported in local and national media and you can read a terrific analysis of both the numbers, how New York got to such crisis levels and what the mayor and City Council need to do to reverse course here in this issue of Safety Net. It was our Senior Policy Analyst, Patrick
Markee's "State of the Homeless" report that pulled all this data together and effectively brought it to the attention of New Yorkers at large.
On May 12, the Coalition for the Homeless joined over 20,000 New Yorkers for a march on Wall Street to
demand everyone pay their fair share to support housing, education, and health care.
As we go to press, Mayor Bloomberg personally accompanied a cadre of press through the rebuilt intake center for homeless families in the Bronx. It's beautiful, to be sure. But over 66 percent of families applying for emergency shelter are currently being turned away - and that proportion is way up. Forty-four percent of families ultimately found eligible have been made to re-apply for shelter two or more times - another number that's way up.
Rather than alleviating the crisis by providing time-tested, housing-based solutions, the mayor has ratcheted up shelter denials - hoping a closed-door at the front-end of the shelter system will solve the problem.
The Coalition's waiting room is packed every morning with these families with vulnerable children. Mothers and fathers are forced to miss days at work and the children miss out on school and often become sick from being bussed to far flung, one-night shelter placements as the eligibility process goes on for weeks.
There are so many ways to help out our homeless neighbors, and this month, if you have just a few moments, I ask that you please look at our main story or visit our website, coalitionforthehomeless.org. Bone up on these awful facts and arm yourself with knowing the simple, common sense solutions. Increasing your advocacy acumen and sharing this message with others is a terrific way to help build the momentum we need to change how the Bloomberg administration deals with homeless families.
Your support of us makes it possible to give these families a place to turn when they've given up all hope. Help us raise awareness in the coming weeks, so we can provide safe, decent housing to those most in need.
Mary E. Brosnahan
Published in Safety Net, Spring/Summer 2011