Data compiled from New York city Coalition for the homeless
New York City’s Homeless Shelter Population: A Snapshot (October 2017)
· Total number of homeless people in municipal shelters: 62,963
· Number of homeless families: 15,689
· Number of homeless children: 23,445
· Number of homeless adults in families: 23,707
· Number of homeless single adults: 15,742
· Number of homeless single men: 11,531
· Number of homeless single women: 4,21
Coalition for the Homeless relies on public data sources for statistics about the New York City homeless shelter population. These data sources record the nightly (or average nightly) number of homeless people residing in municipal homeless shelters as well as the unduplicated number of different people who utilize municipal homeless shelters each year.
The Coalition reports on the number of homeless adults and children residing in the municipal shelter system, which is primarily administered by the NYC Department of Homeless Services. This does not include data about homeless people residing in other public and private shelters including: families and individuals residing in domestic violence shelters; runaway and homeless youth residing in youth shelters; homeless people living with AIDS residing in special emergency housing; homeless people residing in faith-based shelters; and homeless people sleeping overnight in drop-in centers. Our reports focus on the municipal shelter system because data for that system is historically consistent over three decades. Moreover, the large majority of homeless New Yorkers in public and private shelters — approximately nine out of ten — reside in the municipal shelter system.
Because homelessness is fundamentally defined by lack of housing, housing is the essential foundation to ending homelessness. Housing is safety and security. Housing provides a stable launch pad from which people can get and keep a job, address mental illness and substance use, take care of their health and nutrition, and find purposeful roles in the community.
Housing is essential, but it is not sufficient. Housing alone, without attention to health, behavioral health, employment and education, and other supports, will continue to result in instability and recurrent homelessness for many people. A report by the Bassuk Center on Homeless and Vulnerable Children and Youth found that services are equally important—the other half of the equation that can provide stability and prevent future homelessness.
Rent regulation can take various forms, including rent control (the placing of a cap on the rent that can be charged) and rent stabilization (setting limits on how much rent can be raised over time). Supporters argue that introducing controls helps ensure that households on low and middle incomes are not squeezed out of cities in which housing costs are soaring. In many booming cities, growth has pushed up rents, and over time the composition of many neighborhoods has changed in favor of those who can afford higher prices. Supporters of rent control often point to Germany, where it is illegal to charge rent more than 20% above the level charged for a comparable property.
In recent years, media reports of a growing economy and low unemployment mask several important reasons why homelessness persists, and, in some areas of the country, is worsening. These include stagnant or falling incomes, and less secure jobs that offer fewer benefits. Now, as the United States experiences the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the homeless population has increased significantly. The worsening economy and rising unemployment numbers emphasize several reasons why homelessness continues to exist and grow in exponential numbers in the United States. While past years have seen growth in real wages at all levels, wage growth has collapsed over the past six months. Nominal hourly wages of production workers grew at only one-sixth the rate from December 2007. Also, workers also face a cut in hours and nominal weekly earnings have declined. As the recent growth in wages has declined, it illustrates that the recession affects everyone including those able to keep their jobs while adding pressure to the consumption growth which experts estimate will further delay economic recovery (Economic Policy Institute, 2009).
Housing First in Finland
Since 2008 the national homelessness strategy in Finland has been based on the Housing First model, because of dedicated cooperation between the state, municipalities and NGOs.
Investments have been made to provide affordable housing and shelters have been converted into supported housing units. New services and methods of help have been developed to match the multiple needs of individual tenants.
Finland has all but eradicated rough sleeping and sustainably housed a significant number of long-term homeless people. Finland is the only country in Europe where the number of homeless people has declined in recent years.
here was a strong political will to find new solutions for homelessness. There were a few local reactions concerning the location of new service facilities. However, those were mainly overcome by open interaction with the neighborhoods.
How easily can the model be replicated in New York city?
The Housing First model can be replicated even though housing conditions may vary from country to country, city to city. Providing permanent homes for the homeless should be a target instead of temporary solutions.
There is no quick fix to all life situations but a solid base provides the foundations upon which to improve the welfare of the homeless. The first step in change is the change in attitudes.