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Homelessness at record heights in NYC, report says

Homelessness at record heights in NYC, report says
A record number of single adults are homeless in New York City, and even those with a roof over their heads are living precariously, part of a nationwide trend that counters the economic recovery narrative pushed by politicians.

More single adults than ever before are sleeping in shelters in New York, while the number of homeless families is also near January’s all-time high of 63,839 men, women and children sleeping in shelters, according to a new report from the Coalition for the Homeless. That number does not even include homeless people who shun the shelter system, sleeping on the streets, on trains, or in abandoned buildings or other makeshift dwellings, meaning the real number is likely much higher.

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Nightly shelter populations broke city records 32 times in the past six months, according to the report - a shocking statistic even when viewed in the context of a record 133,284 individuals spending at least one night in a shelter in 2018. The number of homeless in New York has been steadily climbing since the crash of 2008, and the shelter population has effectively doubled since then.

The Coalition gave Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo multiple failing “grades” on their handling of the situation, skewering them for exacerbating the issue by dragging their feet on building and maintaining affordable housing. Despite de Blasio’s 2017 promise to reduce the homeless population by 2,500 people in five years, their number has only continued to climb, and is currently on track to increase by twice that many in the same amount of time. The Coalition’s report recommends city and state government build and preserve 30,000 more affordable housing units and beef up rent subsidies and tenant protections, which have largely evaporated in the city as Manhattan and even Brooklyn have become heavily gentrified.

Fully 14 percent of American homeless people live in New York, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. While HUD counts the homeless differently than the Coalition for the Homeless, including individuals living outside the shelter system, the number they came up with - 78,676 on a single night in January 2018 - was also a record high. 

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And putting a roof over one’s head in New York is not cheap. A March report from ATTOM Data Solutions found home prices in New York the highest in the country, requiring buyers to spend 115 percent of their income to buy a home. Over a third of New Yorkers claim they cannot afford the high cost of living, and 41 percent fear they will be forced to move elsewhere for economic reasons, according to a poll conducted in March. Non-white city-dwellers were especially feeling the squeeze - 45 percent said they could not afford to live in New York.

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