March 25, 2019
Wednesday, March 20, 2019 – NEW YORK, NY – As New York City’s homeless population continues to reach crisis levels, the Citizens’ Committee for Children (CCC) today released an infographic that illustrates how this crisis is having a disproportionate impact on young children and low-income families of color.
More than two thirds of individuals living in New York City homeless shelters are children and adults from families, and 94% of those New Yorkers are Black or Latino. Nearly half of the family homeless population are children under age 13 and more than a quarter are under age 5.
“Of the 60,000 individuals living in homeless shelters in New York City, more than 25,000 are children under age 18 and over 11,500 of them are under age five. The trauma of homelessness is something children carry with them for years and impacts their short- and long-term health and well-being. But these challenges are not intractable. As decisions are being made at the State and City level, the data is intended to bring a sense of urgency to discussions of legislation and budget proposals currently underway.,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of CCC and Co-Convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition.
The infographic provides a context in which to frame the urgent need for action in implementing the budget and policy solutions being advanced by the Family Homelessness Coalition, a coalition of nonprofit organizations working to advance a coordinated, multi-agency, effort focused on the needs of homeless children and their families.
“With the average length of stay for families with children in a NYC DHS shelter now at an alarming 438 days, moving families with children into affordable housing rapidly, as well as preventing more families from becoming homeless, must be prioritized,” said Carol Corden, Executive Director, New Destiny Housing Corporation and Co-Convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition. “Rental subsidies, such as Home Stability Support, and more set aside units in permanent housing for homeless families, including victims of domestic violence, could reduce the crisis of family homelessness.”
“The city’s family homelessness crisis has a devastating impact on children,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners and Co-Convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition. “It is critical that families have access to resources to prevent homelessness and find quality, stable, and affordable housing. No child should ever experience homelessness; expanded rental subsidies and services that focus on upstream prevention strategies are key to making that happen.”
With state and city budget processes underway, there are several opportunities to address concerns raised by the data. For example, in terms of prevention and aftercare efforts, the infographic calls attention to the fact that nearly 4,500 families in homeless shelters are served in settings without onsite services. The Family Homelessness Coalition is drawing attention to the benefits of Neighborhood-based Service Coordination to prevent shelter entry and increase housing stability after a shelter stay. Such a model would provide dedicated outreach to families at risk of homelessness and expand the continuum of aftercare services available to families who have found permanent housing. Services may include but need not be limited to financial counseling, workforce training, child care, health resources and more.
While the city is moving forward with its plans to phase out the use of hotels, interim strategies are needed to ensure the well-being of the nearly 2,800 families with children living in hotels including making sure they have access to basic services such as laundry, nutritious meal options and adequate transportation.
The infographic calls attention to the record levels of public-school students living in temporary housing. Currently there are more than 100,000 students in NYC public schools temporarily housed, making them the largest population of homeless New Yorkers. To address the well-being of these students and support their success in school, the Coalition is advocating to restore the $13.9 million funding for Bridging the Gap in the City’s 2020 budget and add $6.5 million to expand the program. Bridging the Gap is a program that brings social workers to schools with high rates of homeless students and students in transitional housing to provide counseling, connections to academic supports, and referrals to mental health services. These social workers are specially trained to address the underlying trauma that holds students back and help families navigate the cross-system issues that pose barriers to regular school attendance.
“With a record number of children and families in shelter, now is the time to double-down and increase educational supports for students who are homeless, not cut the funding,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children of New York. “Education is key to breaking the cycle of homelessness. The Mayor must restore and increase the funding for social workers in schools with large numbers of children in shelters.”
Additionally, to ensure students get to school and can participate in programming to combat learning loss and improve academic success, the Coalition is supporting legislation sponsored by Council Member Steve Levin that would increase coordination among City agencies that play a role in facilitating transportation options for students living in shelters, including the creation of an interagency task force to address the barriers to attendance at school and after-school programs.
Finally, the infographic sheds light on the critical need to connect families with affordable housing. The Coalition is aggressively pushing support for two bills – one city and one state, respectively – that increase access to stable, affordable housing. On the local level, a bill, sponsored by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would increase the percentage of affordable housing units that are set aside for families at risk of homelessness or who are homeless. The state Home Stability Support bill, sponsored by Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, would be a 100% state-funded program that would replace all existing optional rent supplements. The new statewide rent supplement will be for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions.
“CCC is right that homelessness and the affordability crisis are two sides of the same coin,” said Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless and Family Homelessness Coalition Steering Committee member. “Record homelessness and its negative impacts on children continue to persist due to inaction by Mayor de Blasio on building deeply subsidized affordable housing for New Yorkers most in need. We have consistently called on him to build 24,000 new apartments through his Housing New York 2.0 plan, as part of a larger goal to secure 30,000 units of housing for homeless New Yorkers. This is a proven solution needed to reduce all-time record homelessness and the suffering of 23,000 children sleeping in shelters each night.”
About the Family Homelessness Coalition
The Family Homelessness Coalition, a coalition representing service providers, housing providers, children’s organizations, and advocacy organizations, urges New York City to launch a coordinated, multi-agency, collaborative effort focused on the needs of homeless children and their families to prevent homelessness where possible, improve the well-being of children and families in shelter, and support the long-term stability of children and families who leave shelter.
The Family Homelessness Coalition is:
Advocates for Children of New York
Barrier Free Living
Citizens Committee for Children
Coalition for the Homeless
Enterprise Community Partners
Henry Street Settlement
Homeless Services United
New Destiny Housing Corporation
RiseBoro Community Partnership
Settlement Housing Fund
The Floating Hospital
Women in Need