Homeless Crisis at Record Levels with 23,000 children sleeping in shelters each night

100+ Kids with Lego Houses Remind Mayor of Human Cost of Mass Homelessness, Part of House Our Future NY Campaign

NEW YORK – More than one hundred children, including dozens from New York City homeless shelters, joined the Coalition for the Homeless and other advocates in marching to City Hall today, using pictures of homes and Lego houses to demand that the City dedicate 30,000 units of its Housing New York 2.0 plan to homeless households, including 24,000 units created through new construction. Family homelessness in New York City continues at near-record levels, with 23,000 children sleeping in city shelters each night.

“In my shelter, I have to walk through metal detectors like I am a criminal. I can’t go to a sleepover at my friend’s house because I have a curfew. The noise is unacceptable and the smells are intolerable. If the Mayor makes more affordable housing, me and my family would be happy,” said Iyana, age 13, one of the marchers.

“Close down shelters so we don’t have to feel like we’re in a prison! Mr. Mayor, give us affordable housing! If we can build houses, so can you,” said RJ, age 7, another marcher.

“No kid should have to live in a homeless shelter, no kid should have to go through what they go through, ever,” said Samantha, age 13, of Girl Scouts Troop 3197.

“I was one of the 23,000 kids who are homeless in NYC. The day I moved into permanent housing was the day I got to focus and thrive in school. I’m a scholar at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, recently worked at Nickelodeon, and now I’m a college graduate from Syracuse University. Education starts at home, and we need to fight for the kids that don’t have one. Without stability there is no opportunity!” said Avonna Zheng.

Earlier this year, the Coalition for the Homeless released a white paper entitled “Moment of Truth: Bringing Production of Affordable Housing for Homeless Households in de Blasio’s Housing Plan to Scale.” The report illustrates how Mayor de Blasio’s current housing plan falls far short of meeting the scale of the city’s tragic homelessness crisis and the steps the Mayor needs to take to make a meaningful and historic reduction in record homelessness. Tonight, a near-record 63,000 men, women and children will bed down in NYC homeless shelters, and thousands more will sleep rough on the streets.

House Our Future NY is an advocacy campaign formed by the Coalition for the Homeless and 56 partner organizations, as well as homeless men, women, and children and other caring New Yorkers. The campaign calls for 30,000 new units of affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by 2026, with 24,000 of these units to be created through new construction.

“Of the 300,000 units of housing created or saved by the City’s housing plan, just 5% will be set aside for homeless households, a paltry figure considering the depths of the homeless crisis,” said Giselle Routhier, Policy Director for the Coalition and author of the report. “New York City is set to spend billions on affordable housing over the next decade, but unless more of that housing is targeted to homeless New Yorkers, we won’t see a meaningful reduction in homelessness.”

“Our homelessness crisis will not solve itself. It’s a moral and practical imperative that we build more long-term homes for homeless New Yorkers who need them,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Measured against the backdrop of an affordable housing plan with goals in the hundreds of thousands, building or preserving 30,000 homes for homeless families is achievable and necessary.”

“So many of the people in our shelter system are children and families who have fallen on hard times. We need to do everything we can to ease them out of the system and back into their communities, and that includes building more housing for the homeless. The best way to end homelessness is to create new homes, and I support the Coalition for the Homeless’ efforts to expand the number of units built specifically for the homeless in the administration’s housing plan,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“For some time now, we have seen record numbers of homeless New Yorkers, including families with children, struggling to survive,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “The terrible impact of homelessness on children is well documented and we must step up the effort to provide safe, permanent, affordable housing. I’m calling on Mayor de Blasio to make this happen with critically needed adjustments to the Housing 2.0 plan, increasing the number of housing units for homeless households to 10% with the majority being new construction. We cannot continue to allow 23,000 children to sleep every night in shelters.”

“As we take steps to address the rising affordability crisis embattling our communities, the City must take decisive action to uphold its moral responsibility to the tens of thousands of homeless families, including at least 23,000 children, who are forced to sleep in shelters and on the streets every night,”  said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “While the City has made great strides to expand affordable housing over the years, it is clear that more must be done to address the spiraling number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. Today, we urge the Administration to do the right thing and provide the critical housing, relief and stability that these families deserve.”

“We have a duty to our children, families, and city to provide housing for homeless New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Nearly 24,000 children sleep in homeless shelters each night, which impacts every aspect of their lives. It takes a lot of courage to come out and ask for what so many take for granted, and it shows us what state we’re in when homeless children have to march to be seen. I stand in solidarity with the Coalition for the Homeless, and the brave kids who marched today, and call on Mayor de Blasio to build more housing for homeless kids and families.”

“It is a shame that in a City as wealthy as ours, with a budget surpassing $89 billion, more than 20,000 children are sleeping in homeless shelters every single day,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We need to prioritize finding stable, permanent housing for these children, no matter the cost, or the consequences will be dire.”

“Children are our future, therefore maintaining their health and wellness is a priority,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “Affordable and safe housing is important to the well-being and health of families and children. Without adequate and affordable housing, families have trouble managing their daily lives and become homeless. As the homeless population increases in New York City, we have to be mindful that part of this population are young, innocent children who are part of struggling families. So providing housing for the homeless is not just about helping struggling adults, but unfortunate children who are part of those families as well.”