Homelessness is a Shared Experience in New York City
Chances are you have walked by or shared a train car with someone who is homeless, know someone personally who has been homeless or even experienced homelessness yourself.
Today, more New Yorkers are experiencing homelessness than ever before. In a city of more than 8.3 million people, nearly one in every 83 New Yorkers is homeless — that’s more than 100,000 men, women and children. More than 4,000 people are living unsheltered in the subways, on the streets of Manhattan, or in one of the other boroughs. However, the vast majority of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness spend the night within the city’s shelter system where they remain unseen.
Poverty in New York City
For anyone facing material hardship, New York City can be an unforgiving place to live. New Yorkers living paycheck to paycheck must contend not only with the city’s high cost of living, but also its lack of affordable housing and shortage of living wage jobs. Sadly, many New Yorkers live on the razor’s edge, just one personal crisis away from homelessness.
In New York City
In New York City, homelessness is at an all-time high.
How many people are homeless?
In a city of more than 8.3 million people, nearly one in every 83 New Yorkers is homeless — that’s more than 100,000 men, women and children. More than 4,000 people are living unsheltered in the subways, on the streets of Manhattan, or in one of the other boroughs.
What causes homelessness?
In most cases, multiple factors are involved. Common ones include: mental illness, substance abuse, untreated medical issues, traumatic events, violence and abuse, lack of affordable housing and difficulty sustaining employment.
Who experiences homelessness?
People of all genders, races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds experience homelessness. Among those sleeping in city shelters, 20,000 are single men, 5,000 are single women and 59,465 are adults or children in families.
Meanwhile, nearly 1 in 3 NYC children live below the poverty line.
Where are children at risk?
The South Bronx and East Harlem are two New York City neighborhoods suffering from concentrated poverty. Burdened with high crime rates, poor health outcomes, and poor housing conditions, these areas pose high risks for child welfare.
What are the effects of poverty?
Hundreds of studies have examined the detrimental effects of poverty on the well-being of children. Growing up in poverty may disturb a child's brain development and undermine his social and emotional growth.
How can poverty be addressed?
Opportunities for enrichment and mentoring can play a critical role in helping children thrive in school and life. Quality programs support children's social and emotional development, helping them grow into adults who are healthy, grounded and economically self-sufficient.
SOURCES: New York City Populations Estimate Report 2022; City of New York, data as of August 2023; NYC Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), conducted on January 24, 2023; Coalition for the Homeless, data as of June 2023
PAGE LAST UPDATED: September 2023
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