New Poll Finds Widespread Support for Shelter and Housing for Homeless New Yorkers

A new public opinion survey found strong support for the legal right to shelter for homeless New Yorkers, and for prevention and housing assistance.

The survey results were released by the Institute for Children and Poverty in a report entitled, “Stemming the Tide: New Yorkers Expect Government Solutions for Rising Family Homelessness.” Following are some of the survey’s key findings:

• Around three-quarters of New Yorkers support the legal right to shelter for homeless people, and support government programs like prevention and housing subsidies to address the problem of homelessness.

• One half of New Yorkers say they are willing to pay higher taxes to reduce homelessness.

• More than 80 percent of New Yorkers thought about the problem of homelessness within the last month.

• Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers saw an increase in homelessness within the past six months.

• More than one in five New Yorkers believe themselves to be at risk of homelessness.

The ICP survey’s findings echo those of an opinion survey commissioned by Coalition for the Homeless back in January 1999 – a summary of the results is available here.

The Coalition survey, which documented widespread dissatisfaction with former Mayor Giuliani’s failed homeless policies, also found:

New Yorkers Consider Homelessness an Urgent Problem:
• 78 percent of those surveyed believe that it is “extremely urgent” or “very urgent” to address the issue of homelessness.

New Yorkers Support Sheltering the Homeless:
• 68 percent of those surveyed believe that it is an “excellent idea” or a “good idea” to provide shelters and beds for homeless families and individuals.

New Yorkers Support Spending Tax Dollars on Effective Solutions to Homelessness:
• 77 percent of those surveyed favor providing rental assistance to help low-income families and individuals pay for rent and heat.

All in all, the two surveys, conducted a decade apart, confirm what we at the Coalition have long known: New Yorkers are enormously concerned about the problem of homelessness, sympathize with their homeless neighbors, and support effective government action to reduce homelessness. Looks like it long past time for our public officials to act on the public’s wishes.

Obama administration criticizes New York’s policy of finger imaging food stamp applicants

A top Agriculture Department official urged the state to discontinue its practice of finger imaging applicants for food stamps–a practice he cited as costly and ineffective. Many advocates have long opposed the policy, saying that it discourages applicants because it increases the stigma of applying for the benefit and often requires an extra office appointment, pulling families out of work and costing taxpayers more money. Indeed, Joel Berg, director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger released data showing that New York has a lower food stamp enrollment rate than the national average and a much lower rate than the four largest states without a finger imaging requirement.

In a letter to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability insurance, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon stated that “more cost-effective alternatives to finger imaging should be actively considered both as a cost savings and as a means of program simplification.”

New York City’s Human Resource Administration continues to be the strongest voice for the policy in the state, even requesting a waiver to continue finger imaging employed heads of households when the State eliminated it in 2007.

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