Closed Doors II—Data Shows City Denies Shelter to Homeless Families at a Higher Rate

City data shows that, even in the midst of the lingering economic crisis, the City is denying shelter to homeless families at a higher rate.

As we noted in an earlier post, yesterday’s New York City Council hearing highlighted the fact that, from March to August of this year, the percentage of families applying for shelter who are deemed “eligible” by the City has fallen from 42 percent to 35 percent – an unprecedented decrease. Here is a chart illustrating this alarming trend:

The City’s homeless services commissioner, Seth Diamond, was asked repeatedly by City Councilmembers to explain the worsening shelter denial rate, but he refused to do so.

Nevertheless, City data has long shown how faulty and error-prone the City’s eligibility review process is. Indeed, as noted at the hearing, in FY 2010, of all homeless families ultimately deemed eligible for shelter (14,545 families), 40.7% of them (5,920 families) filed two or more applications. DHS Commissioner Diamond also could not explain why thousands of families that even the City acknowledges are homeless were forced to apply multiple times in order to obtain emergency shelter.