Out-of-Towners Flock to NYC Homeless Shelters

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An increasing number of families entering New York City's homeless shelters are not from the city. According to city records, the number of out-of-town families applying for shelter has risen 48 percent over the past four years.

The city's Homeless Services show that 2,053 families from outside the Big Apple sought shelter last year compared to 1,390 in 2008.  Tens of thousands of families seek shelter each year and according to the city, out of town families typically account for around 9 percent of all applicants.

Commissioner Seth Diamond told the Daily News that the city's "right to shelter" law affords housing to everyone. The shelter system is at an all time high and the increase in out of town applicants may be adding to that.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg Tuesday added that the city really has no other choice, noting that a judge has said everyone has a right to shelter. 

“You don’t have to be a citizen of New York. You don’t have to have been here for any particular length of time. If you are here you have a right to shelter as specified by the constitution as interpreted by the courts."

Vida Chavez-Downes, who heads a Bronx shelter facility, says she sees more people than ever arriving directly from the airport.

But the Coalition for the Homeless says the vast majority of homeless shelter residents are from right here in New York City, and that their numbers have grown in recent years.

Bloomberg did say the city has been taking steps to try and alleviate the problem. "If they have any place where the have family members to live with, we even pay for their transportation, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than putting them up," he said.

Since 2007, it has paid a one-way fare for 2,654 singles and families to 24 states and five continents.

The city’s Department of Homeless Services says the top five places families have been relocated to are Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Colby Hamilton, Cindy Rodriguez and the Associated Press contributed reporting.


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Comments [3]

Steve from Manhattan

I'm 21 in a homeless shelter I'm hiv positive. I been working since 16 only reason I'm not working now is due to medication. Beside that I would love to be working and taking care of myself like I been doing. So people abuse the system and some of us use it to get to where we need to be and work. I know for facts I paid into the system it would be nice if the system could do the same for me

Oct. 02 2013 06:01 AM

I work in the health care field and Ive noticed the increase in the number of HIV positive homeless young men moving to the city. I was told by one of them that " NYC isthe best place to move to if you are HIV positive. You get free housing, free health care and food stamps. You never have to work again!"
No wonder we cannot afford to give visiting nurse services to those that have to someone who has worked their entire life and paid into the medicare system, we are too busy giving away our resources to the young and able.

Aug. 01 2012 01:44 PM
CH from Westchester

This is sad but unfortunately very believable. I am curious which states are the heaviest. Is it just our neigbors of NJ, CT and PA or is it more likely more distant ones south of the Mason-Dixon. Unfortunately whatever the statistics imply, these origins may also be contributing to the street crime status as well.-

Jul. 31 2012 01:08 PM

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