New Report Shows Homeless Numbers Continue to Rise in Surprising Districts Despite Citywide Economic Recovery

Press Releases

August 22, 2017

For Immediate Release

Contact: Elysia Murphy (212) 673-1800 x18

Data Demonstrates Worrisome Risks for the 22,000 Children Living in NYC Shelters and the Wide Array of Service Needs for Families Entering Shelter

New York, NY – August 22, 2017 – Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) today released Keeping Track of Family Homelessness in New York City, a comprehensive analysis of community-level data illustrating the needs of children and families living in – or at-risk of entering – homeless shelters. The report analyzes the relationship between income and rent data and family homelessness across the city’s 59 community districts, and examines the risks to well-being faced by children and families living in communities with the highest rates of families entering homeless shelters.

“More than six years into the recovery from the Great Recession, there are many community districts in New York City where the number of homeless families continues to rise and the dynamics playing out in these neighborhoods are as diverse as the communities themselves,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “As the city seeks to carry out its community-oriented approach to serving homeless children and families, it’s critical to examine what is driving housing instability among families living across all NYC communities and to identify where more resources are needed to better meet the needs of the children and families at risk of homelessness and in the shelter system.”

The new analysis demonstrates the extent to which the city’s uneven recovery from the Great Recession – and  trends related to stagnant or decreasing income and increasing rents – played a role in the growth in family homelessness between 2013 and 2015. These trends are seen in dozens of districts across the city, including some neighborhoods that are often overlooked in public discussions around poverty and homelessness:

  • Over 60 percent of families with children who entered homeless shelters in 2015 came from 15 of New York City’s 59 community districts with the highest rates of family homelessness: Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Morrisania, Concourse/Highbridge, University Heights, East Tremont, Bedford Park, Unionport/Soundview, and Williamsbridge in the Bronx; Bedford-Stuyvesant, East New York, Brownsville and East Flatbush in Brooklyn; Central Harlem and East Harlem in Manhattan.
  • While several communities in the Bronx experienced increases in family homelessness (i.e. Mott Haven, Hunts Point, Morrisania, Unionport/Soundview, Williamsbridge), some neighboring communities with high shares of households in rent-stabilized units (i.e. Concourse/Highbridge, University Heights and Bedford Park) experienced small decreases in family homelessness, even while experiencing declines in median incomes.
  • Family homelessness grew in some middle and upper income areas (i.e. Chelsea/Midtown; the Upper West Side in Manhattan; Astoria in Queens) where there are pockets of high poverty. Though these pockets are often found in areas with a concentration of public housing, there is also a limited number of section 8 voucher utilization, rent stabilized housing, and homeless prevention services.

CCC’s report also examines data related to health, education and exposure to community and domestic violence in communities with the highest rates of families entering homeless shelter. The analysis underscores the potential needs — going beyond economic security and housing —of children and families entering shelter and demonstrates the variety of health, mental health and educational services needed to improve the wellbeing of children and families before, during and after a family’s stay in shelter.

The number of families in shelters peaked in 2010 at 14,600 families, and though it dropped to under 11,000 by 2012, it again swelled to over 13,000 in 2016. Today there are 12,435 families in the DHS shelter system.

“Family homelessness has been a growing challenge for New York City since before the recession,” said Apurva Mehrotra, CCC’s Director of Research and Data Analysis. “Because the average stay in DHS shelters for families with children has risen, there are even more families being served in DHS shelters today than during the height of the recession.”

CCC’s analysis provides a context within which decisions can be made about the policies, services and tools needed to combat the family homelessness crisis in New York City, and in what community targeted approaches are necessary to respond to increases in housing instability among New York City’s children and families. The report helps identify areas where the most critical needs are currently and where the city might expect to see growth in family homelessness even if citywide numbers were to improve such as Astoria, Williamsbridge, East Flatbush and Unionport/Soundview.

CCC’s Keeping Track of Family Homelessness in New York City report also underscores the importance of a multi-pronged approach to address the issue of family homelessness in New York City. This comprehensive approach was outlined in a recent report published by CCC together with New Destiny Housing and Enterprise Community Partners which, based on the work of the Family Homelessness Task Force the three organizations convened, outlined recommendations aimed at preventing families at risk of homelessness from entering shelter; promoted well-being for families in shelter through appropriate shelters and services for families with children; and provided more affordable housing resources and aftercare services to ensure that families can
leave shelters quickly and then remain stably housed.

“Ensuring that families have access to safe and stable housing is one of the key ingredients in efforts to make New York City a better place for children, but there are additional factors to consider if we want to truly address the needs of families at risk of or entering shelter,” March said. “We look forward to advancing our recommendations for addressing family homelessness by promoting child and family well-being and ensuring the needs for housing, education, early education and other social services can be better met.”

About CCC
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York educates and mobilizes New Yorkers to make the city a better place for children. Since 1944, our advocacy has combined public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We cast light on the issues, educate the public, engage allies, and identify and promote practical solutions to ensure that every New York City child is healthy, housed, educated and safe. For more information on CCC, visit our website at Stay up to date on the latest news and information regarding the well-being of New York City’s children by following us on Facebook and Twitter.
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