A growing number of families that rely on New York City's shelter system are doing so to escape domestic violence. A report released today by the Independent Budget Office notes that from 2002 to 2011, the shelter system saw a 204% increase in applicants who needed housing because they feared for their safety.
The IBO study covers the period from 2002 through 2012, which saw an explosion in the city's homeless population and a surge in those seeking shelter from DHS. The latter was largely a result of Mayor Bloomberg's decision to give homeless families rental subsidies instead of federal housing subsides, and later scrapping the rental subsidies altogether in favor of a costly, ineffective method of shuttling families from corrupt contractor to corrupt contractor.
When de Blasio took office this year, 10,611 families were in the shelter system each month, a record high.
From 2010 to 2012, 27% of shelter applicants were applying because of domestic violence, down from 2008's high of 34%. Roughly 93% of all families applying for housing are led by women; a little more than half are black.
The IBO report also found an increase in families seeking shelter due to eviction; in 2012, 36% of families applying for housing did so because they had been removed from their apartments.
From 2002 through 2012, 60% of all families entering the shelter system came from rent-regulated housing or public housing.
"It's indicative of the confluence of problems these families are facing," says Doug Turetsky, an IBO spokesman. "Even regulated housing may be getting too expensive for people."
Earlier this week, the Times reported on how the city's housing crisis has exacerbated the rise in domestic violence in NYCHA buildings, leaving families with nowhere to go.
“Without exception, one of the first questions someone attempting to escape domestic violence asks is, ‘If I leave, where will I go?’ ” Mary Brosnahan, the head of Coalition for the Homeless, told the paper. “For someone who is desperately poor, the answer is all too often, ‘There’s no place I can go and be taken in.’ ”