Homelessness in New York City
Homelessness is a shared experience in New York City — either you have been homeless, know someone who has been homeless, or have shared the sidewalk or a subway car with someone who is homeless. In a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 homeless men, women and children sleep in homeless shelters and at least 3,100 more sleep on the streets and subways in the dead of winter. This means that one in every 147 New Yorkers is currently homeless.
Homelessness is a broad term that looks different for each person experiencing it. Homelessness is both the problem and the symptom of other problems that can range from chronic substance abuse, financial instability caused by unemployment or underemployment, mental illness, domestic violence, sexual victimization and more. Often, it is a complex set of circumstances, choices, and traumas that lead a person to homelessness. Recovery from homelessness, then, is what our former President, Ed Morgan, calls "an affair of the heart." In other words, recovery must address the holistic needs of each individual — spiritual, emotional and physical.
At The Bowery Mission, we have been helping New Yorkers to help the homeless since 1879, meeting the specific needs of each man, woman, and child who walks through our doors. First, we help the homeless by meeting immediate needs: food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. In our residential recovery programs, we address deeper needs for spiritual wholeness, life and job skills training, and addiction recovery. We measure our progress against five criteria, which indicate to us that a life has been transformed from homelessness to hope: connection to faith, connection to family, commitment to sobriety, a job and a place to live, and a plan for the future.