Single Adults in Homeless Shelters Are on the Rise

Mayor Bill de Blasio has had some success in trying to curb a homelessness crisis that has exploded under his watch, but the number of single adults in shelter continues to reach record highs almost every month.

More than half a dozen providers and advocates surveyed by POLITICO pointed to some factors outside the city’s control, including a harsh real estate market for low-income renters, stagnating wage growth, and a population with greater needs as a cause for the spike.

But they also cited factors that the city and the state could affect, including a housing plan that isn’t focused enough on homeless people, insufficient supportive housing, and a failure to adequately plan for people leaving prisons and jails.

“Given what is happening in the housing market, with displacement, conversion of low income housing, limited development of low income housing, we shouldn’t be surprised that we have more people in shelter, because we need it,” said Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO and President of BRC, a homeless services provider. “Shelters aren’t bad, shelters are places people can go and have a right to go to.”

There were 15,302 single adults in shelter in July, 53 percent more than there were just before de Blasio took office and close to an all-time high. Single adults are a relatively small part of the shelter system, representing 28 percent of people in the city’s shelters while families make up the remaining 72 percent, but they look to be the city’s bigger challenge.

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