Record Homelessness, Growing Shelter Expenses, Still No Action

The Bloomberg Administration’s non-existent policy response to homelessness is becoming an increasingly expensive problem, according to the Independent Budget Office. Over the last year alone, the number of homeless families has increased by 17 percent, while the number of single adults in the homeless shelter system has grown by 10 percent. And because the mayor — in a radical departure from the policies of every previous mayor — currently has no housing programs in place for homeless families, shelter stays are also getting longer. Families with children spent an average of 355 days in shelter in 2012 — up 40 days since the previous year. According to the IBO, the financial cost is adding up:

Not surprisingly, more people and longer stays are driving up shelter spending. In November, the Mayor added $42.9 million in city, state, and federal funds to the budget for family shelters, bringing the total budget for 2013 to $466.5 million.

But IBO’s Elizabeth Brown says the additional funding is not enough to meet likely costs. Based on recent trends, she estimates that providing families with emergency shelter will cost about $42 million more than the Bloomberg Administration has budgeted for this year.

According to the IBO, on Christmas eve, over 37,000 men, women, and children were sleeping in NYC shelters — a population equal to that of Binghamton, NY.

Mary Brosnahan, President of the Coalition for the Homeless, issued the following statement:

“The latest numbers from the IBO confirm our worst fears. New York City ended 2012 with record and rising homelessness, even without counting victims of Hurricane Sandy — a sad reminder of the failed legacy of Mayor Bloomberg’s misguided policies.

“Unless the Mayor reverses course and works to move families out of shelters and into permanent, affordable housing, the homelessness crisis will only deepen in 2013, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and causing needless pain for thousands of homeless New Yorkers.”

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