Media Blog

About Today’s Big NYT Piece on Homeless Children in NYC

The Times has an article today titled “Invisible Child — Girl in the Shadows: Dasani’s Homeless Life” that catalog’s one family’s struggle with poverty and homelessness in Brooklyn. An excerpt:

Dasani’s own neighborhood, Fort Greene, is now one of gentrification’s gems. Her family lives in the Auburn Family Residence, a decrepit city-run shelter for the homeless. It is a place where mold creeps up walls and roaches swarm, where feces and vomit plug communal toilets, where sexual predators have roamed and small children stand guard for their single mothers outside filthy showers.

It is no place for children. Yet Dasani is among 280 children at the shelter. Beyond its walls, she belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression, in the most unequal metropolis in America. 

But it’s really just a longer, more in-depth version of this Daily News piece on homeless children in New York City from last year:

Sometimes life in a homeless shelter is more than a 14-year-old can handle.

Francheska Luciano, who is among a growing number of homeless children in the city, said living in a shelter was “like living in hell.”

“I’m tired of this,” she said Friday while sitting on a curb outside a shelter intake center in the Bronx with her mother and little sisters. “It’s a nightmare every day.”

The number of children in the city’s shelters hit 19,000 last week, the most recent city data available show.

“Not since the grim days of the Great Depression has New York City had 20,000 children sleeping homeless each night,” said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless.

And the Times piece today reports the same news as this Wall Street Journal piece from March:

The numbers in New York, however, are starker, according to a report to be published Tuesday by the Coalition for the Homeless, a New York advocacy group, citing New York City government figures.

More than 21,000 children—an unprecedented 1% of the city’s youth—slept each night in a city shelter in January, an increase of 22% in the past year, the report said, while homeless families now spend more than a year in a shelter, on average, for the first time since 1987. In January, an average of 11,984 homeless families slept in shelters each night, a rise of 18% from a year earlier.

“New York is facing a homeless crisis worse than any time since the Great Depression,” said Mary Brosnahan, president of the Coalition for the Homeless.

I’m glad the New York Times finally noticed. As for the “Coalition for the Homeless,” the source above, they’re expecting Mayor-elect de Blasio to fix the problem:

New York City’s next mayor will inherit an historic homelessness crisis. The good news is that Bill de Blasio’s knowledge and experience, his campaign platform, and his vision for a less unequal city make him extraordinarily well-suited to stem the tide of rising homelessness.

Everyone at Coalition for the Homeless offers warm congratulations to Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio for his resounding victory this week. And we look forward to working with him, his transition team, and his new administration in the coming months and years to address New York City’s historic homelessness crisis.

Throughout the mayoral campaign we have been heartened and encouraged by de Blasio’s focus on worsening inequality – and by New York voters’ overwhelming response to that message. Homelessness is clearly one of the major symptoms of NYC’s worsening inequality, in particular the widening gap between housing costs and the incomes of poor and low-income New Yorkers.

Indeed, there is no stronger evidence of de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” than the more than 52,000 homeless New Yorkers – among them 22,000 homeless children – who are sleeping each night in municipal shelters.

The good news is that, not only does de Blasio understand the scale of the problem, he has the knowledge and experience to tackle NYC’s homelessness crisis. As a former Federal housing official and chair of the City Council’s General Welfare Committee, he has firsthand and thorough knowledge of homeless services and affordable housing in New York.

Stay tuned.

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