United to End Homelessness (UEH), a New York City-based coalition of homeless advocates, providers, homeless and formerly homeless individuals, and faith leaders, is urging Mayor Elect Bill de Blasio and the City Council to employ proven solutions to prevent and end the city’s homelessness crisis.
In its recently released A Roadmap to Ending Homelessness, UEH lays out a comprehensive approach to do so. Advocates hope the briefing book will motivate the next administration to implement these well-tested interventions immediately.
The Supportive Housing Network in New York and its partners launched the UEH campaign in April to draw attention during the 2013 election season to New York City’s growing number of homeless individuals and families. More than 57,000 people, 22,000 of them children, sleep on the street or in shelters nightly, the largest homeless population ever recorded in the city, according to advocates.
It costs $36,000 annually for a family to stay in a New York City shelter, but only $6,000 per family to prevent homelessness in the first place, according to UEH. It called on the City to use its limited resources more cost effectively to support such homeless prevention programs as legal services, eviction and foreclosure prevention, and after care services to help formerly homeless individuals remain housed. UEH’s research indicates that the state could save $67 million in shelter costs by providing an attorney to low income residents facing eviction.
In its report, UEH underscored the importance of housing to the long-term health and stability of the most vulnerable homeless individuals and families. It found that 48% of runaway homeless youth who engaged in commercial sex activities identified the lack of a safe place to sleep as the leading reason for their entry into prostitution and similar activities. The city has limited options for runaway homeless youth as shelters serving them are often full. Advocates have called for more services and programs geared toward this population.
Placing individuals in supportive housing has been shown to reduce hospitalization rates by 29% and emergency room visits by 24%, UEG reports. Homeless children and adolescents struggle with physical, emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development, and they are four times more likely to be sick than their non-homeless counterparts. UEH recommends a broad range of solutions to family homelessness, including increased affordable housing in private developments for extremely low income people, Public Housing and Section 8 vouchers, a city-based rental subsidy program, and more supportive housing for individuals and families, particularly those with special needs.
In addition, UEH calls on the city’s incoming leaders to establish an Interagency Council on Homelessness to serve as the central authority to coordinate government, nonprofit, and consumer stakeholders to implement a comprehensive plan to end homelessness.
Click hereto read A Roadmap to Ending Homelessness.