New Federal Data Confirms Rising Homeless Population in New York


New Federal Data Confirms Rising Homeless Population in New York

April 26, 2011
By Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst

Download the briefing paper here.
Download recent Federal homeless population reports for New York here.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released new data confirming the rising number of homeless people in New York. The new data show that homelessness worsened significantly between 2009 and 2010 in New York City and throughout the rest of the state. In particular, the number of homeless New York families with children rose sharply.

The newly-released HUD data echoes the findings of Coalition for the Homeless' "State of the Homeless 2011" report, released earlier this month. Analyzing City data, the "State of the Homeless" report found that both the number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and the New York City municipal homeless shelter population rose dramatically over the past year and reached all-time record highs. As we noted in that report, persistently high unemployment and the continuing loss of low-cost rental housing are major factors behind the rise in New York homelessness, along with the failures of Mayor Bloomberg's policies which deny Federal housing assistance to homeless people.

The HUD data is on the one hand more comprehensive than City data about the municipal shelter system - it includes additional shelter populations such as domestic violence survivors and homeless youth - and on the other hand more limited, because it is drawn from single-night counts in the winter months of each year. Nevertheless, the new HUD data clearly shows that the homeless population in both New York City and the rest of the state is on the rise.

Below and in the accompanying charts and table are the key findings of the newly-released HUD data about New York homelessness:

• Between 2009 and 2010, the number of homeless people in New York City shelters increased by 6.5 percent.

• Over the same period, the number of homeless people in shelters throughout New York state rose by 7.0 percent.

• Between 2009 and 2010, the number of homeless families with children rose at a faster rate both in New York City and statewide.

• In New York City, the number of homeless families with children increased by 7.3 percent.

• In New York state, the number of homeless families with children increased by 8.0 percent.

Note on the data sources: Since 2005 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has collected point-in-time - i.e., single-night - counts and estimates of homeless populations from states and localities receiving Federal homelessness assistance funds pursuant to the McKinney-Vento Act. HUD gathers the data from local entities which administer the homelessness assistance grants, called Continuum of Care Homelessness Assistance Programs.

The homelessness population reports can be found at the HUD Homeless Resource Exchange website here.  Coalition for the Homeless has posted recent reports for New York City and state on our website here.

As noted above, the HUD homeless population data is more comprehensive than City homeless data generally used in news reports as well as in Coalition for the Homeless' reports. City homeless data is usually restricted to homeless shelters administered by the NYC Department of Homeless Services, and has the advantage of being consistently reported over nearly three decades. See a note on City of New York homelessness data here.

In contrast, the HUD data includes homeless people residing in shelters administered by other City agencies, including shelters for homeless youth administered by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, shelters for domestic violence survivors administered by the NYC Human Resources Administration, and shelters for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS administered by that same agency. However, the HUD data is limited due to the fact that it is only a point-in-time snapshot of the homeless population.

Note that the HUD reports also include estimates of unsheltered homeless populations. Coalition for the Homeless and others have long been critical of the City's methods of estimating New York City's unsheltered homeless population. We believe the City estimates severely understate the true dimensions of the unsheltered homeless population, and for that reason we have not included the HUD data on unsheltered homeless populations in this analysis. Please see a discussion of the flaws of the City's unsheltered homelessness estimates here.