Joint Statement From Legal Aid, Coalition for the Homeless on the City’s DHS Shelter Census Reaching a New Single-Day Record

(NEW YORK, NY) – The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless issued the following statement in response to New York City’s Department of Homeless Services shelter census reaching a new single-day record of 62,174 for October 10, 2022, which surpasses the prior one-day record of 61,415 from January 12, 2019 (note that this number excludes certain subcategories of the DHS system, such as Safe Havens):

“The increase in the shelter census is fueled by rising numbers of people entering the system, by bureaucratic bottlenecks precluding residents from transitioning into permanent and safe affordable housing quickly, and, most notably, by the City’s continued failure to create anywhere near enough affordable housing for the New Yorkers who need it most.

The average length of stay in DHS shelters has risen to all-time highs, with single adults spending an average of 509 days in shelters, families with minor children spending 534 days, and adult families spending a staggering 855 days.

To address the skyrocketing census and mounting capacity crisis, the Mayor must take definitive action to move homeless New Yorkers into permanent housing. He can start by immediately accelerating housing placements by increasing access to vouchers and eliminating unnecessary bureaucratic barriers that prolong homelessness. But to make a real and lasting difference, Mayor Adams must commit to financing at least 6,000 apartments per year for homeless households and 6,000 apartments per year for households with extremely low incomes. We have urged the Administration to take these necessary steps for months.

Should the City fail to act, the shelter census will only continue to rise even higher and more people will needlessly suffer homelessness.”