As Luxury Apartments Rise, Homelessness in New York City Reaches Record Levels

by Alex JacobsTruthout | News Analysis –

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, as of August 2017 homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression. Of the more than 61,000 people without homes, nearly 23,000 are children. During a three-month period of 2016 in just the Bronx alone, there were over 15,000 warrants of possession entered in housing court, meaning a landlord could subsequently evict the tenant. There is an invidious racial component to homelessness in New York as well. About 58 percent of shelter residents are Black and another 31 percent are Latinx.

Giselle Routhier, the policy director for Coalition for the Homeless, the nation’s oldest direct service organization assisting those without homes, describes the current situation in New York as a “lost decade.” Back in 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg restricted access to federal subsidies, and instead instituted a series of time-limited rental subsidies. “Between 2005 and 2014, there’s been this huge spike in homelessness as those subsidies were not working,” Routhier told Truthout. Since then, Mayor Bill de Blasio reinstated access to federal subsidies, “but the city needs much more,” she said.

In the Shadows of Riches

The New York metropolitan area is one of incredible contradiction. It simultaneously contains 33 of the richest 100 suburbs in the country, as well as the single poorest congressional district in the country. The Yankees play baseball just down the street from apartments devastated by careless landlords who fail to provide heat, cooking gas, or proper extermination services for the Bronx’s pervasive rat problem. All of this is just a 15-minute train ride into Midtown, one of Manhattan’s centers of finance and shopping. New York isn’t just a tale of two cities, it’s an absurd horror story, and it doesn’t need to be this way.



Reprinted with permission from Truthout