Homeless Population in NYC Shelters Reaches Record 50,000: Report

By Mathew R. Warren
|  Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013  |  Updated 5:25 PM EDT
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Homeless Shelter Population Reaches Record 50,000

The number of homeless people sleeping in New York City shelters has risen to a record of more than 50,000 people a night, according to a new report.

The Coalition for the Homeless released the report based on city data Tuesday, which stated that an average of 50,135 people per night slept in shelters in January, including 21,000 children.

The number is a 19 percent jump from a year ago when the population was approximately 42,000, and a 61 percent jump from a decade earlier when the number was under 13,000.

Homeless advocates say Mayor Bloomberg's administration has not done enough to secure housing for homeless families.

"This is a tragedy of City Hall’s own making," said Mary Brosnahan, president of the coalition. "Had Mayor Bloomberg simply followed the strategy of previous mayors of both parties and prioritized moving the homeless into permanent affordable housing, there would be thousands fewer families and children in our shelter system today."

In response to the report, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond said there are fewer people entering the city's shelter system than years prior, but that people were staying longer.

Diamond blamed the growing population on the loss of state rent subsidies for formerly homeless families two years ago.

"We lost that and the population did go up," Diamond said. "We lost that ability to help them."

The report suggests the city should give homeless families access to federal and city housing resources, including Section 8 and NYCHA public housing. But Diamond contends that federal funding for Section 8 has been "leveled or reduced" in the last three years and that there is now a seven-year waiting period for NYCHA housing.

"The reality is those resources don't exist," Diamond said.

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