Homelessness in New York City
by davidmurray on October 2, 2017 - 7:27pm
This article discusses the problem of homelessness in New York City and outlines a few solutions.
New York City has a growing homelessness problem. It has reached its highest level since the 1930s with around one in every 135 adults being homeless. Around 130 thousand people are currently homeless, most of which sleep in shelters. However, some must resign themselves to sleeping in the streets or in the subway. Most of the homeless are from minority groups such as African-Americans and Latinos.
The author explains that this high homelessness level is mostly due to the “high cost of urban living” and job losses. Rent pricing keeps increasing every year while the average income does not increase as fast, thus leaving some people in a homeless situation.
The state of New York has a law which mandates that a city must guarantee its citizens a “right to shelter”, though the shelters are currently inadequate. The mayor of New York has promised to open new homeless shelters during the coming years and has raised the budget allocated to helping the homeless.
However, the author believes that those are only “short-term solutions”, and instead proposes the following courses of action (only the most significant ones are listed below):
1. Prevent people who are not homeless from abusing the “right to shelter” law. Some barriers must be put in place to ensure that those who ask for shelter are truly homeless, rather than merely trying to benefit from the “free” shelter.
2. Create more affordable housing. A major reason why people become homeless is due to the lack of affordable housing. Thus, a viable solution would be to build more affordable housing, which is what the mayor of New York City has committed to do.
3. Rent assistance programs. Create programs that would help people move from shelters to their own housing while helping them with the monthly payments.
I believe that homelessness is a major issue that many cities are currently facing (including Montreal). While the current homeless shelters are of great help, I believe that a lot more needs to be done to mitigate the issue, because housing is one of our most important needs. Perhaps more importantly, cities need to work on fixing the issues that cause homelessness, such as high rent prices. Among other factors, gentrification can cause housing prices to rise which can lead to homelessness for some people. What are some things that individuals (as opposed to cities) could do to help the homeless?