Almost 20,000 children are spending the night in homeless shelters in New York City, according to new data, an increase of 24% since July 2011.
The Coalition for the Homeless, which published the figures, said the number of children in shelters would be even higher were it not for the fact that 65% of homeless families seeking admission to shelters are being turned away.
The homeless charity places some of the blame on the closure of the Advantage housing program in the summer of 2011. Since then there has been no rent-subsidy program in place for accommodating homeless families.
The number of homeless children in NYC shelters rose from an average of 15,704 in July 2011 to an average of 18,489 in July 2012, the most recent month for which average statistics are available. A freedom of information request by the Coalition for the Homeless found that 19,537 children were in shelters on 23 September – the most recent information available – which it described as "an all-time record high".
"For the first time ever there is no program in place to help people move from homeless shelters to housing," said Giselle Routhier, a policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless. She blamed mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration for the increase in homelessness among children, the impact of which she said is "really detrimental".
"Homeless kids are more likely to feel anxiety and depression and an array of other health problems. That impacts itself on schooling as well – homeless kids miss more days of school, oftentimes they do worse in school than their peers, so we know it has a very negative impact. The fact that we're seeing record numbers of children in shelters is very disturbing to us."
65% of homeless families are currently being turned away from the shelter system.
This is an outrage.
That the 35% who are accepted into the shelter system amounts to the highest rate of homeless children in NYC shelters ever is also an outrage.
Tell me how poverty does not affect destiny when you're living on the street as a kid and even the homeless shelter system is turning you down for a bed?
Huh, Mr. Bloomberg?
No excuses, right?
If we just fire some teachers, we can solve this homelessness problem, right?