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New Plan Offers Path to Reduce Family Homelessness

1/2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             

Contact:

Linda Bazerjian, LBazerjian@ICPHusa.org, 212-358-8086 ext. 1204
Diana Scholl, DScholl@ICPHusa.org, 212-358-8086 ext. 1223

NEW YORK (January 19, 2012) – Of all the families who seek temporary shelter in New York City, 40% have had at least one prior shelter stay. To reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for homeless parents and children in New York City and throughout the country, the independent nonprofit research organization Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness (ICPH) released A New Path: An Immediate Plan to Reduce Family Homelessness today during ICPH’s conference Beyond Housing: A National Conversation on Child Poverty and Homelessness.

The plan proposes using the family shelter as a tool for parents with limited education and work experience, as well as for victims of domestic violence, and those with mental health and substance abuse issues, and a history in the child welfare system.

While many families are forced to go to shelters because of the lack of affordable housing in the United States, A New Path argues that for approximately 15% families living in shelters, they are further held back by lack of education, work experience, and family support. For this subpopulation, A New Path argues that shelter stays should be extended to 12­-18 months, and used as an opportunity for parents to immerse themselves in an on-site learning, career-building, and healthy environment. Although some residents will have a longer initial shelter stay, this will lead to less recidivism.

“New York City has long led the way in confronting the challenge of homeless families, and should serve as a model for reducing recidivism,” said ICPH President and CEO Ralph da Costa Nunez. “This is not a 10-year plan, but an immediate action that can serve as a guide to cities, suburbs and rural communities throughout the country.”

These shelters—designated in the plan as “Tier III”—should offer on-site employment opportunities for shelter residents starting at minimum wage; job search, readiness, and retention training; and GED classes.

Other advancements A New Path recommends:

  • Some “Tier III” shelters should be designated “Safety First” residences, and serve domestic violence victims.  In 2010, there was only bed space for 70% of families deemed eligible for DV Shelters. These shelters would offer the same safety and support as those at DV shelters.

  • “Child Wellness Residences” would provide on-site assistance to families with active child welfare cases and those receiving voluntary preventive services. On average, 670 active child welfare cases and 1,300 closed cases were identified each month among homeless families in New York City in 2010.

  • “Health and Recovery Residences” would provide targeted services to those with mental health and substance abuse concerns.  

A draft of A New Path: An Immediate Plan to Reduce Family Homelessness was released at ICPH’s conference Beyond Housing: A National Conversation on Child Poverty and Homelessness on January 19, 2012. Sourcing and reference information are preliminary and subject to change before final publication. Feedback is welcome. E-mail comments@ICPHusa.org input to be included in the final plan.

Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness is an independent nonprofit research organization based in New York City. ICPH studies the impact of poverty on family and child well-being, and generates research that will enhance public policies and programs affecting poor or homeless children and their families.

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