New York's homeless population has been chillingly booming over the past decade, and now a new federal report finds homelessness increased by more than 13 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, homelessness has seen a decline nationally, further calling into question the city's grip on the disturbing epidemic.
The 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in January, found there were 64,060 homeless individuals living in New York City, as tallied by field workers on one night of the year; in 2012, HUD reported 56,672 homeless persons. That number includes people living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, in abandoned buildings and on the streets.
Conversely, the report showed a decline in homelessness on a national level, with an 11,824 decrease in the national homeless population since 2010.
New York was also the city with the largest homeless population, followed by Los Angeles, with 53,798 homeless persons reported— L.A. also saw the greatest increase in homelessness nationwide, with a 27 percent increase since 2012. Seattle, WA, was ranked a far third, with a reported 9,106 homeless persons.
New York has had a significant struggle with homelessness in recent years, and the city was forced to open a number of new homeless shelters to keep up with the booming population. Some of the problems stem from a lack of affordable housing, forcing individuals and many families out into the street. Obviously, the city points to its "success" with the shelter system: "Given our legal mandate to provide safe, temporary emergency shelter to all eligible families and individuals in need every night, we meet this mission successfully, while other cities around the country are putting up ‘no vacancy’ signs and turning families to the streets and to live in cars,” the city’s Department of Homeless Services said in a statement.
Considering that Mayor Bloomberg seemingly set out to make combating homelessness one of the cornerstones of his administration, the HUD report is a sobering look at the challenges facing his successor.