New York’s housing crisis has taken center stage in the last few months: A bold package of bills was passed in Albany to protect tenants, while the city’s Rent Guidelines Board voted to raise the rent despite clamors from residents of rent stabilized apartments. Something that housing advocates have continuously cited is the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in the city.
A new study by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH), found that on July 1, 2018, there were over 12,000 families with children sleeping in a city-run shelter. The study also explored the biggest factors—family, neighborhood, and shelter dynamics—that lead to homelessness.
Overall, the study says that in fiscal year 2016, the main reasons families entered shelters included domestic violence (30 percent), eviction (25 percent), and overcrowding (17 percent).
In terms of shelter dynamics, the ICPH analysis found that neighborhoods with the highest family shelter capacity include Concourse/Highbridge, East Tremont in the Bronx, and Brownsville in Brooklyn. The report also notes that in 2015, the district with the most families entering shelters was East New York in Brooklyn.
Neighborhood dynamics contributing to homelessness, the study found, include educational attainment, unemployment, rent burden (as well as disappearing affordable units), and poverty.
An interactive map (below) shows the percentage of severely rent-burdened households in each borough—meaning households spending 50 percent or more of their income on rent. The map shows that the Bronx had the most severely rent-burdened households with 33.1 percent, followed by Staten Island at 29.5 percent (those figures are based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey.)
The study lists specific neighborhoods facing the most instability for different reasons. In Borough Park, for instance, 44 percent of households are severely rent burdened, and in Mott Haven, 40 percent of residents have less than a high-school diploma.
“Severely rent burdened households are often just one lost paycheck or medical emergency away from eviction,” the study reads. “As rents continue to rise, the preservation of affordable low income housing is essential to keeping families on the brink of homelessness stably housed in their communities.”
Also included in the map are the number of disappearing affordable units in each neighborhood. Those with large numbers of lost affordable units include Battery Park/Tribeca, Midtown Business District, Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Fort Greene/Brooklyn Heights, Fresh Meadows/Briarwood, Coney Island, and East Harlem.
Though the ICPH report says the number of families with children in shelters has increased by almost 55 percent between 2011 and 2018, the city’s Department of Homeless Services told Curbed that the overall numbers have gone down.
“Our transformation plan puts people first, offering them the opportunity to get back on their feet in their home boroughs, closer to support networks, including schools,” Isaac McGinn, a city Department of Homeless Services spokesperson told Curbed in a statement.
“As we turn the tide on this citywide challenge, we’ve driven down the number of families experiencing homelessness overall, while also helping hundreds of families in shelter move closer to their children’s schools—and we’ll be taking this progress even further as we continue to implement our five-year plan,” he added.