In Bushwick, (and the City) Families are the Majority of the Homeless

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City Limits is in the midst of a month-long reporting project on Bushwick—a neighborhood at the city’s geographic center and in the middle of many of the stories shaping communities across the five boroughs.

Families and homeless students makeup the majority of homeless people living in Bushwick. 1,039 of the neighborhood’s 1,462 shelter residents (71 percent) lived in family shelters in April.

There are also many homeless families not living in shelters. According to a report from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, there were 1,855 homeless students attending Bushwick schools during the 2016-17 school year. Only 649 lived in a shelter, while 1,118 lived ‘doubled up,’ in the home of a friend or family member.

Student homelessness in Bushwick grew by five percent between 2011 and 2017.

The shelter population in the neighborhood has remained relatively constant for the past year, dropping just slightly from 1,475 in July 2018.

 

A separate report from the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, suggests families are staying in homeless shelters for longer. The average length of stay for a family in a city shelter is 449 days and that number has increased by 40 percent from September 2011 to April 2019.

City-wide, there were 58,712 individuals sleeping in a shelter in April 2019. 37,945 (64 percent) were in family shelters.

The main factors that drive homelessness are domestic violence, eviction and overcrowding.

An increase in rents in Bushwick puts residents there in increasingly difficult financial situations. A third percent of the neighborhood’s residents are severely rent burdened. The rents in the neighborhood are growing faster than elsewhere in the city. In addition, Bushwick’s Community District 4 has one of the highest unemployment rates in the city with 12 percent unemployment. The city-wide average is 7.8 percent.

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