State of the Homeless 2011: The “One in Three” Plan to Reduce Record NYC Homelessness

Coalition for the Homeless released its annual “State of the Homeless” report today, documenting how NYC homelessness reached all-time record levels during the past year – and outlining a plan to reduce the homeless population.

The news release summarizing the report is below. You can read and download the complete “State of the Homeless 2011” report here.


Mayor’s Failed Homeless Policies Cited as Nearly Half of Families Entering Shelter Have been Homeless Before

Advocates Call for “1 in 3” Solution, Return to Proven Strategy of Giving Homeless Families Access to Federal Housing Programs

NEW YORK – Coalition for the Homeless released its annual State of the Homeless report today, showing record homelessness in New York City as well as new evidence that the Bloomberg administration’s failed homeless policies are to blame. The report finds that a record 113,553 homeless people slept in municipal shelters in fiscal year 2010, and that the shelter census hit a new, all-time single-night census record of 39,542 men, women, and children at the end of February.

New data from the City’s own Department of Homeless Services also confirms what advocates have long argued: the strict time limits and bureaucratic rules of the City’s Advantage program return many formerly homeless families back to the shelter system. In fiscal year 2011, nearly half (47%) of all shelter entrants so far were “repeat” families, or families who have been through the shelter system before, nearly twice the rate in the years before the City implemented its time-limited programs like Advantage.

“The Mayor’s failed policies have created a revolving door back into shelters, exacerbating the crisis and leading to record levels of homelessness in New York City,” said Patrick Markee, Senior Policy Analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless and the author of the report. “The need to return to the proven and cost-efficient strategy of offering permanent, affordable housing to homeless families is more urgent than ever. The City’s current failed programs are nearly ten times more likely to return families to homelessness than the federal housing programs they replaced and the number of families entering shelters who have been homeless before is skyrocketing.”

The report calls for a”1 in 3″ solution, reserving one-third of available federal housing resources, like public housing vacancies and Section 8 vouchers, for families currently in the shelter system – roughly equivalent to the City’s homeless policy prior to the Bloomberg Administration. Federal housing programs, which offer permanent, affordable housing, return just 3.9% of families to homelessness, while 37.4% of former Advantage recipients have applied to return to homeless shelters.

“With homelessness at record levels and shelters busting at the seams, New York City desperately needs to develop sensible options for homeless families and individuals in order to appropriately address this dire situation,” said Annabel Palma, Chair of the New York City Council’s General Welfare Committee. “We must prioritize programs that prevent people from returning to homelessness and help them rebuild their lives, including cost-efficient federal housing programs.”


Homelessness in New York City is at record levels:

• A record 113,553 homeless people slept in municipal shelters in FY 2010, an 8 percent increase from the previous year and a 37 percent increase from FY 2002 when Mayor Bloomberg took office.

• This includes a record 42,888 children, a 9 percent increase from the previous year and 39 percent more than when the Mayor took office.

• And by the end of February of this year, the nightly census of homeless adults and children in the municipal shelter system – 39,542 people – reached the highest point ever recorded.

The City’s current homeless policies are failing to help families rebuild their lives and are contributing to the crisis:

• Since the Bloomberg administration cut off homeless families from proven Federal housing programs and replaced them with time-limited subsidies like the Advantage program, more than twice as many formerly homeless families enter the shelter system each year.

• In the seven years before Mayor Bloomberg’s misguided policy change, an average of 2,003 formerly-homeless “repeat families” entered the shelter system each year, but in the five years after the change an average of 5,020 “repeat families” entered the shelter system each year, a remarkable 151 percent increase. And in FY 2010, an all-time record 6,294 “repeat families” entered the shelter system.

• Before the Mayor’s time-limited subsidies were implemented, only one in four families (25 percent) entering the shelter system was formerly-homeless, now nearly half (47 percent) of all families entering the shelter system was once homeless.

• The record number of so-called “repeat families” entering municipal shelters has already cost taxpayers an estimated $370 million in shelter costs alone and has contributed to the all-time record number of homeless children and families.

By returning to the proven policies of previous administrations and offering one-third of federal housing resources to qualified homeless families, New York City can reduce homelessness and help thousands get back on their feet:

• Mayors Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani marshaled Federal housing resources to help homeless families move from costly shelters to stable, permanent homes.

• Federal housing programs return just 3.9% of formerly homeless families to the shelter system, compared to the 37.4% of Advantage recipients who apply to return to homeless shelters when their time-limited subsidy ends.