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State of The Homeless 2019. The Urgency Increases: House Our Future Now!

April 30, 2019
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State of the Homeless 2019
The Urgency Increases: House Our Future Now!
Released by the Coalition for the Homeless on April 29, 2019.

NEW YORK, NY – The Coalition for the Homeless has released its State of the Homeless 2019 report, The Urgency Increases: House Our Future Now! a comprehensive look at homelessness in New York City.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

In January 2019, New York City reached yet another dismal milestone in the history of modern mass homelessness: An all-time record 63,839 men, women, and children slept in shelters each night. The new peak was fueled by a dramatic increase in the number of homeless single adults – a figure that has been growing by an average of 10 percent per year since Mayor de Blasio took office. The number of single adults in shelters has more than doubled in the past decade, and exceeded 18,000 individuals for the first time in January 2019, while the number of homeless families has soared from 9,600 to more than 15,000 during the same period.

As tens of thousands of men, women, and children continue to struggle to find a way out of homelessness, Mayor de Blasio’s hollow plan to address the crisis, Turning the Tide on Homelessness, has floundered, failing entirely to live up to its title. This setback is not at all surprising: The plan aimed to reduce the shelter census by a mere 2,500 people between 2017 and 2022, an embarrassingly unambitious objective given the enormity of the crisis. Further, based on the current trajectory of the shelter census and the Mayor’s inexplicable resistance to building more permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers, the census will more likely have increased by roughly 5,000 people by 2022.

This is an utterly unacceptable outcome given the human and financial costs of mass homelessness in our city: A population large enough to fill one of New York State’s top ten cities living in City shelters at a cost of more than $2.3 Billion per year.

It is, however, an avoidable outcome. Both the City and State governments bear responsibility for the growing crisis, and both have the tools at their disposal to address it if only they had the political will.

The City’s construction of new affordable apartments for homeless households and the State’s adoption of legislation enacting the Home Stability Support rent supplement program for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are the most direct and promising remedies. To that end, Mayor de Blasio must immediately direct his housing agencies to build 24,000 new units of deeply subsidized, affordable housing and preserve at least another 6,000 existing City-subsidized apartments for homeless New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo must ensure that the Home Stability Support legislation is passed and implemented.

State of the Homeless 2019 examines the recent causes and consequences of mass homelessness in New York City, analyzes City and State policy developments, and offers practical recommendations to effectively address the crisis and meet the needs of homeless families and individuals. If the Mayor and the Governor implement the recommendations outlined in this report, the number of people sleeping in shelters each night would decrease by 20 percent over the next four years (more than 11,000), rather than continuing to rise year after year.

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