Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
More homeless singles are in shelters, a trend that is likely to continue.
The number of single adults in New York City shelters rose by 17 percent this year, according to a yearly report card on city services released Friday by the mayor’s office.
The numbers reveal that single people, many of whom lack a support network when they lose a job or home, have been some of the hardest hit by the economic downturn.
The data also show that the city’s Department of Homeless Services, which frequently reports that it is exceeding its homelessness prevention targets, is not doing enough to help New York’s single population.
In fiscal year 2010, there were an average of 7,167 single adults in the city’s homeless shelters on any given night. In fiscal year 2011, that number jumped to 8,387.
Kristin Goodwin, Housing Works’ director of NYC policy and organizing, cites the shrinking pool of affordable studio apartments as one of the reasons for the growing single homeless population.
“It’s a terrible setup if you’re a single person,” she said. “So the ‘solution’ is to shove them into shelters, which are traditionally unsafe and expense and don’t have any services attached to them.”
The problem will likely worsen in the coming year.
This spring, city officials said that due to lack of state funding, they would be forced to close the Advantage Program, a rental subsidy program designed to move people out of shelters and into permanent homes. Last week, a state Supreme Court Justice ruled that the city can legally stop paying the rent of more than 16,000 formerly homeless individuals—likely forcing many to return to shelters.
“The hope is that some percentage of the folks in the Advantage Program will find other housing options,” said Goodwin. “But the truth is that most homeless advocates believe that those people are going to end up back in the shelter system.”
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