Homeless Population in Shelters Hits Record High

This year is the "worst on record"

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Tuesday, Oct 13, 2009  |  Updated 4:15 PM EDT
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The number of children using city shelters each night is over 16,000, the data finds.

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There number of homeless people using city shelters each night has reached an all time high -- a 45 percent increase since Mayor Bloomberg took office eight years ago, according to a new report.

The statistics, released today by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, find that over 39,000 homeless people -- including 10,000 homeless families -- check in to city shelters every evening.

In 2002, about 31,000 people were using city shelters -- and those numbers have steadily increased each year, the group said.

This year has turned out to be "the worst on record for New York City homelessness since the Great Depression," they said.

The 10,000 families sleeping in shelters each night includes 16,500 children. That's an increase of 12 percent from last year, the data suggests.

City officials have a slightly lower tally. According to the New York Department of Homelessness, its daily census for October 8 found 37,912 total homeless individuals in New York.

Either way, the numbers appear to indicate a problem for Mayor Bloomberg -- even in light of the recession. In 2004, the mayor vowed to slash homelessness in the city by two-thirds over five years and end "homeless as we know it."

Critics, like the Coalition for the Homeless, said Bloomberg has "resoundingly failed to achieve its primary goal" of slashing the number of people using city shelters.

Still, the city has gone to some creative lengths to move out the chronically homeless -- including buying one-way plane tickets for homeless families to other cities -- under the agreement that they won't return.

The city's shelter system costs $36,000 a year per family, the city said.

More than 550 families have left New York since 2007.

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