Results of DHS’s 2010 annual street homelessness count show that the numbers are up

The Department of Homeless Services released the results of their 2010 annual street homelessness count today and not surprisingly, the number of street homeless individuals has increased since last year. According to their press release, “DHS estimates that 3,111 homeless individuals were living on the streets of New York City in January 2010.” This number is an increase from last year by 783 individuals.

Not coincidentally, the Department of Homeless Services has severely cut services for street homeless individuals over the past year, including closing five drop-in centers. A sixth drop-in center (which is also the largest) will be closed by the end of this month. Drop-in center services are specifically geared towards street homeless individuals since they allow the individual to walk in and receive a variety of services at any time. Individuals can also be referred to faith-based beds from Drop-in centers.

In the statement DHS made today, they said they will address this increase in street homelessness by adding additional shelter beds to the regular shelter system that outreach teams will be able to offer to street homeless clients, bypassing the usual intake process. This highly unrealistic new plan doesn’t take into account that the shelter system is already running at nearly full capacity due to an unprecedented demand this winter. Coalition for the Homeless had to bring legal action against the city because they literally ran out of beds last November. Additionally, many street homeless individuals are averse to the traditional shelter system and may actively choose not to enter for various reasons.

Overall, these newly released numbers continue to add to the crisis of homelessness in New York City. The numbers show that DHS’s decision to close 6 drop-in centers over the past year has been a complete disaster for the street homeless population, who continue to need specialized services.

More Day Laborers Face Homelessness

Day laborers are again in the news for the plight they face in day-to-day living and the significant portion of them who are homeless. Yesterday’s article in the Queens Courier illustrates the difficulties and also points out that not all day-laborers are men. Ms. Martinez is one of many women who also face the difficulty of finding work and shelter on a daily basis in New York City. She has two young daughters and “spends her days on a corner crowded with women just like her, looking for temporary, menial jobs that will help to feed their families.”

There are approximately 8,283 day laborers in New York City and almost one-third of them are homeless, according to a report cited in the article. However, many day laborers are afraid to request help for fear of incarceration and deportation if they are undocumented. And according to the report, La Esquina, cited in the article, 74 percent of day laborers in New York City are undocumented. In January, a homeless day laborer froze to death in Staten Island.

Those that are not homeless generally live in severely overcrowded apartments, presenting immediate risks to their safety.

All of these factors combine to exacerbate the problem faced by many of these individuals and their families. More services and efforts should be targeted towards this specific population, especially where many of them reside: in Queens. Specifically outreach efforts and a reassurance that shelter is safe for them would be a start.

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