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June 21, 2017
This week, we co-hosted a summit with Enterprise Community Partners and New Destiny Housing to bring together city and state agencies, nonprofit service providers, academics, foundations and interested New Yorkers to call attention to New York City’s family homelessness crisis. The summit was hosted in conjunction with the release of a report by the Family Homelessness Task Force that included recommendations to tackle family homelessness. The following op ed on the report and its recommendations was penned by Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader at Enterprise Community Partners, Jennifer March, Ph.D., executive director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, and Carol Corden, executive director of New Destiny Housing, and published in The Observer on June 21, 2017. CCC, Enterprise, an New Destiny Housing are co-conveners of the Family Homelessness Task Force.
Last night, over 22,000 children slept in New York City Department of Homeless Services homeless shelters. While the city is finally starting to see a downward trend in the number of homeless families with children, efforts to address the well-being of these families and secure permanent affordable housing cannot come soon enough.
New recommendations released this week based on the work of a “Family Homelessness Task Force” of more than 40 organizations stress the importance of a three-pronged approach to addressing family homelessness: support families in shelter to ensure their well-being and access to school and community supports; provide resources once they leave shelter to ensure they never become homeless again; and develop programs that identify and help vulnerable families before housing stability ever becomes a crisis.
Homeless families with children compose almost 70 percent of New York City’s shelter users. On average, they remain in the shelter system for more than 430 days. Half of these families are living in cluster sites—often ill-maintained private apartments the city rents—and hotels far from their schools, communities, jobs and family members. Such long stays can put lives on hold, causing parents to lose jobs and children to miss school, which can harm a family’s well-being and impact long-term life outcomes. On top of this, the status quo is economically unsustainable: the city spends an average of $41,000 per year for every homeless family living in shelter, and even more when families are placed in hotels.