Vice: How Cities Got Serious About Homelessness in 2016

“‘No one will say it, but shelters have become a surrogate for low-income housing in America,’ Ralph da Costa Nuñez, president of the New York City-based think tank Institute for Children and Poverty, told me. ‘We don’t build enough low-income housing, but we build shelters overnight—everywhere.’

He believes that homelessness isn’t a housing issue, but one that’s contributed to by social factors including domestic violence, mental illness, and lack of education. ‘The problem is we simply take people who come to shelters and they say, ‘Oh I lost my house.’ The issue is, why did you lose your housing?’ said Nuñez, who previously worked for Koch mayoral administration in the 1980s. ‘The more you dig, the more you find out what these issues are.’

Research published last year by the Institute for Children and Poverty found, for example, that one in four families with children in the New York City shelter system entered because of domestic violence and one in ten teen parents within the New York City Department of Education’s daycare program for student parents became homeless after the birth of their first child. One in five teen parents surveyed at the same daycare had been homeless at some point in the past five years.”

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