The number of homeless residents in New York City, the largest city in the United States, reached a record high this month at more than 56,000 people. Halfway around the world, another metropolis recently hit a homeless record of its own: just 1,697 people are currently homeless in Tokyo, also its country’s largest city and the most populated city in the world, a record low since surveys began in 2002.
Earlier this month, Barbara Sard and Douglas Rice from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released the Creating Opportunity for Children Report, which describes how improvements to federal rental assistance programs could substantially better low-income children’s long-term well-being and success. The report also details how the Housing Choice Voucher program does not reach its full potential to expand children’s access to good schools in safe neighborhoods:
Our new report explores a growing body of evidence that supports two conclusions about how neighborhoods affect children’s well-being:
- High-poverty neighborhoods can impair children’s cognitive development, school performance, mental health, and long-term physical health.
- Poor children who live in low-poverty neighborhoods and consistently attend high-quality schools perform significantly better academically than those who do not.
Unfortunately, federal rental assistance programs fall short in helping families live in neighborhoods rich in opportunity—only 15 percent of the 4 million children receiving federal rental assistance live in such neighborhoods.
Our report lays out four sets of policy changes federal, state, and local agencies can make to help more families live in better neighborhoods. [Source]
With more than 24,000 children sleeping in NYC homeless shelters every night, the report’s findings are extremely disconcerting. While poverty alone places great stress on children, the instability of homelessness further affects their behavioral and emotional health, cognitive development and educational achievement.
It is imperative that the City and State help the more than 13,600 families currently sleeping in homeless shelters move into stable, permanent housing. Unless we fully implement the proven and cost-effective housing-based solutions to homelessness, we are risking the futures of tens of thousands of NYC children.
The report is available for download here.
It is the city of dreams and cinema cliches, but also of poverty, soaring rents and inequality. The divide between rich and poor has never been greater, as John Freeman discovered when his brother Tim moved into a homeless shelter a few blocks from his smart apartment.