Today’s Read: No Quick Fix for NYC’s Growing Homeless Population

With shelters at or near capacity and thousands of New Yorkers still sleeping on the streets, it’s clear that something is not working in our city.

One of the root causes of mass homelessness is the skyrocketing cost of housing. Even people who work full-time at minimum-wage jobs struggle to pay rent – in fact, 30 percent of people in shelters are employed. Therefore, any strategy to end homelessness must be centered on housing-based solutions.

The de Blasio administration has made some progress, such as through the Living in Communities (LINC) rental subsidy programs to help people transition from shelters into apartments. But the out-of-control housing market has created additional hurdles, as a Daily News article by Greg B. Smith explains:

“What we’re having a hell of a time with is the market dynamics here are forcing people out faster than all of our tools can compensate,” [Mayor de Blasio] said.

Mary Brosnahan, director of the Coalition for the Homeless, conceded her group has faced the same problems.

“It’s never been harder to get apartments,” she said. “It’s harder to get landlords to accept the rent subsidy because they can get other people. It’s their market.”

The numbers are sobering and the pattern remains stubbornly fixed — more people enter than exit the city’s shelter system.

In fiscal 2015, 64,956 individuals came in while only 38,519 went out, officials said.

In addition to such rental subsidy programs, the City and State must help homeless New Yorkers with mental illness, addiction and other special needs by committing to create 30,000 units of permanent supportive housing in New York City over the next decade, with another 5,000 elsewhere in the state. This research-backed solution saves taxpayer dollars while breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness.

“The answer is to build a lot more housing,” said the mayor.

This year advocates have pressed the state to create 30,000 housing units specifically for the city’s homeless. De Blasio has pushed for 12,000, but so far Gov. Cuomo has offered funding for 3,700.

“You want to see the numbers (of homeless) go down on the street? That’s the key,” said [Mary] Brosnahan of the Coalition for the Homeless.