On Monday night, 46,084 people spent the night in a New York City homeless shelter and, according to the NYC Department of Homeless Services, 19,486 of those people were children. Even more depressing, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, over the past year just 35 percent of families with children who applied to stay in city shelters were accepted—down from 52 percent in 2007. So, despite minimal funding and support from the Bloomberg administration, the Department has to do something. And that something for the moment is to open more homeless shelters. At least five of them. Because the ten additional shelters opened since May just aren't enough.
Three new family shelters (boasting a total of 169 apartment-style units) and two shelters for single adults (with another 234 beds) are expected to open before the year is out, officials announced Tuesday. Two will be in the Bronx, and one each will be in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. These are on top of the six family shelters, one single adult shelter and three adult family shelters the city already opened this year.
There are a number of reasons for the rise in homelessness in the city, but one of the biggies was the decision last spring to end a rent-subsidy program known as the Advantage. Since that $140 million program was killed by the State (which provided $65 million of the budget) the number of homeless in shelters across the city has jumped 29 percent. And it shows little sign of going down. Especially, as City Council members pointed out a hearing yesterday, with no new ideas being proposed to fix the growing crisis: "Unless there is a significant change in policy, those trends will continue to get worse," Council Member Stephen Levin said yesterday.