A Discussion on the State of Homeless People in New York City Shelters

The state of homelessness is one in which a person does not have a permanent place that fit human conditions to live in. The United States has over half a million people who are homeless and thus reside on the streets. The country is grappling with the problem as it strives to keep it under control. A huge percentage of the homeless people are children thus necessitating drastic steps to be taken to safeguard their welfare. The main cause of homelessness is the fact that many cannot afford the high charges levied on housing across the country. The situation is quite dire, especially in the urban areas in the country.

Homeless shelters in New York

The housing rent in New York is quite high meaning many people are unable to afford the basic dwellings in the state. There are around sixty thousand homeless people in New York at the moment. This number is very high, accounting for about 10% of the country’s total. The rise of homelessness in New York has almost reached the highest number that was reached back in the 1920s during the great depression era (Seider, 2010). Within this number, there are about fifteen thousand families which call the streets a home. Out of this, over twenty-three thousand are children who are unable to find better residences thus ending up on the streets.

Reason for Homelessness

The reason that many people are homeless is the low income that many of them earn from their jobs. From the national average, basic housing in the state costs about nineteen dollars for basic accommodation. This is however short of the basic hourly wage that many minimum wage workers can make in an hour. At fourteen dollars an hour, many cannot make ends meet and have to move to the streets to survive. There is an acute shortage of affordable housing across the state. The ones that are available in the city are already full meaning the state needs to build more of them.

The economic meltdown of 2007-2008 led to a lot of foreclosures on homes that rendered many homeless. The effect of the market collapse on Wall Street led to many people not being able to pay the mortgage on their homes thence their houses got repossessed essentially putting them out on the streets. This led to a spike in the number of homeless people in New York.

High poverty levels among the homeless have meant that they have been unable to pay for their basic needs, things such as food, clothing, and shelter are hard to come by for the majority of them. The little income that they have has to be rationed between several needs that have to be satisfied. Basic medical care is out of the reach of these groups of people. The two factors go hand in hand when it comes to determining the reasons for homelessness. Housing is usually the most expensive out of all the needs that a family has to fulfill.

Municipal Shelters

The number of people who seek residence in homeless shelters has increased by over ninety percent in the past ten years. The increase in homeless people in New York is becoming a worrying trend that has to be curbed. Many of the homeless people suffer from a harsh environmental condition such as the harsh winter weather (Smith, Harder & Jannotta, 2010). The people who are unable to find shelters for the Night opt to sleep on the streets and other places. The subway has also seen an increase in the number of homeless people sleeping there. The estimates that have been done by the state do not seem to represent the actual state of affairs on the ground. There is evidently an underestimation in the numbers.

Homeless shelters in the country are run by several organizations that cater to the needs of these people. In New York, the major ones are the Salvation Army, Feeding America, and National Coalition for the Homeless. There are others such as Housing Assistance Shelter and Department of Veteran Affairs that tackle the issue from another angle. These organizations run the programs that provide homeless people with the basic needs that they require such as food, clothing and basic shelter for the night.

In New York, individuals who are homeless have displayed a high rate of mental illnesses and other psychological conditions. This is when compared to homeless families. These individuals also seemed to suffer from addiction to a variety of drugs that can be found on the streets, they are unable to seek help for their addiction. There are also a lot of health issues that affect this group of people. The harsh street conditions affect their health a great deal. This leads to the untimely death of many individuals residing on the street who are unable to access basic medical care from medical facilities. A huge majority of the people of the streets suffer from one type of ailment or another.

The majority of homeless people in New York are found in the central business district of the city. They can mostly be found in large concentrations in midtown Manhattan. This group of homeless people accounts for over sixty percent of the Homeless in the state (Caton 2001). In terms of race, African Americans lead the way, accounting for fifty-eight percent of the people living in homeless shelters in New York. The nest population is the Latino at thirty-one percent then Caucasians at eight percent only.

Opportunities for Homeless Shelters

The state needs to invest heavily in building more homeless shelters to cater for the increasing numbers of homeless people that have been living in New York. The most important thing is to tackle the issue before it arises. The plan would be to eradicate poverty through policy implementation by the government to reduce poverty rates. The state should also build affordable housing to cater for the poor in society. The state can also subsidize the rent of the housing which the homeless people can reside in without many problems (Graham, Walsh & Sandalack, 2008).  Homeless shelters have to provide ways to spur the residents in it to seek ways of getting back into society by offering vocational training and other means.


The homeless shelters in New York are fraught with many challenges when it comes to dealing with a large number of people. The government can change this by increasing employment rates and reduce poverty so that the people are able to avoid this situation. The government can also encourage public assistance to look into the welfare of the people in the long run. Other contributing factors such as domestic violence and mental health can be dealt with implementing the necessary programs.