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Homelessness has
been a big problem in New York City for many years.
There are different factors that contributed to the rise of homelessness in New York but one of the
major ones was the Great Depression. The Great Depression in the 1930s changed
the way of life for many New Yorkers. Many people were not able to find jobs or
pay their bills and that caused many people to lose their houses and other
places they lived. Another factor that contributed to the rise of homelessness
in New York happened in the 1950s.
New York State began releasing
mentally ill people from the upstate hospitals and mental facilities to the New York communities. The
State did not make sure that there was proper housing for these patients and
many of them ended up living on the street. 

One conflict in
history that impacted homelessness in New York was the drop in
single room housing. Single room housing provided low cost housing for poor
single adults, couples without children and some families (though the rooms
were too small to fit everyone comfortably). Without single room housing a lot
of poor people ended up on the streets because they couldn’t afford to go
anywhere else.  The mentally ill that
were released from the hospitals also depended on these single room houses but
there weren’t enough for everyone.

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One compromise came
in 1979 when the Coalition for the homeless brought a lawsuit against New York City and State. This
lawsuit was called Callahan vs Carey. The judge in this case ordered the City
and the State to provide shelter for all homeless men. Before this case, the
City and State didn’t have to provide a place for homeless men to live. They
lived on the streets, in abandoned buildings and any place that could lay their
heads. The Callahan VS Carey case also, lead to a decline in hypothermia and
death amongst the homeless. Over time, the right to shelter was given to women
in 1983 and to homeless families in 1987.



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