Record Number of New York City Children Are Homeless for the Holidays
Released December 20, 2012
Citizens’ Committee for Children (CCC) released an infographic today illustrating the record number of children in New York City who will spend the holiday season living in homeless shelters. The infographic, NYC Children: Homeless for the Holidays, explains the negative impact that living in homeless shelters for long lengths of stay can have on both the well-being of New York City’s children and New York City taxpayers.
“While shelters are critical for providing emergency housing to homeless individuals and families,” said CCC’s Executive Director, Jennifer March-Joly, “Homeless for the Holidays argues that alternatives like rent subsidies can provide a more cost-effective, long-term solution to family homelessness in New York City. The cost to taxpayers for one-month rent subsidy is $1,000, while the cost of one month in a family shelter is $3,000.”
Family homelessness has reached crisis levels in New York City, with record numbers of families with children living in shelters for increasingly longer periods of time. The average homeless family will spend 355 days in shelter, compared to 315 days a year ago. More than 20,000 children will live in homeless shelters this holiday season, 20 percent more than last year at this time. The increase in the number of homeless families can be attributed to multiple factors, including the economic downturn, the shortage of affordable housing in New York City, and the lack of programs to assist homeless families in their transition from shelter to permanent housing.
“CCC has been a long-time advocate for preventive solutions that keep children from entering the shelter system. These programs are more important than ever,” said Chris Stern Hyman, Chairman of the Board for CCC. “We must do everything we can to ensure that parents have the support they need to provide safe and stable housing for their children.”
In addition to rent subsidies, examples of cost-effective preventive programs include anti-eviction legal services and the Family Eviction Prevention Supplement. Other cost-effective solutions to family homelessness include supportive housing for families with special needs, and expanding the supply of affordable housing.
“Family homelessness is traumatic for children, causing disruptions to their lives and separating them from their homes, friends, schools, and broader communities,” said Caroline Nagy, Policy Associate for Housing and Homelessness at CCC. “The infographic shows how, compared to other children, homeless children are twice as likely to experience anxiety, depression or withdrawal from caregivers and peers.”
Children living in homeless shelter are likely to miss 15 more days of school in a school year than their peers, which can be enough to keep them from graduating or being promoted. Homelessness also has negative impacts on a child’s physical and mental well-being. Homeless children are four times more likely to suffer from asthma or respiratory infections, and suffer five times as many gastrointestinal infections and twice as many ear infections.
Additional data on the well-being of New York City’s children will be available in CCC’s upcoming edition of Keeping Track of New York City’s Children, to be released in February 2013. Keeping Track is the most comprehensive centralized database tracking the City’s children and includes hundreds of indicators that create a picture of how children, from infancy to adolescence, are faring both citywide and in each of the city’s 59 community districts. For more information, visit CCC’s web site at www.cccnewyork.org.