[Hpn] Experts: Homeless Numbers Climbing; AP; 11/19/01
Morgan W. Brown
Mon, 19 Nov 2001 19:23:00 -0500
Monday November 19 6:19 PM ET
Experts: Homeless Numbers Climbing
Joseph Franklin, 54, homeless more than a year, is shown at the main office
of Coalition for the Homeless where he receives assistance, Monday, Nov. 19,
2001. A lack of affordable housing and the economic downturn before and
after Sept. 11 have resulted in an all-time high of nearly 30,000 homeless
adults and children in New York City shelters, the coalition said Monday.
(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
--[End of photo caption]
By DONNA DE LA CRUZ, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - A lack of affordable housing and economic woes that have
worsened since Sept. 11 have sent the homeless population in some of the
nation's largest cities climbing, experts say.
There are now nearly 30,000 homeless adults and children in New York City
shelters - an all-time high, the Coalition for the Homeless said Monday.
New York lost nearly 80,000 jobs following the World Trade Center attack,
and many people have turned to soup kitchens and food pantries.
``The number of people coming here was rather dramatic after the 11th of
September,'' said Clyde Kuemmerle, a programs coordinator for Holy Apostles
Soup Kitchen in Manhattan who estimated the increase in the hundreds.
The nation's largest city isn't alone. San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston
are also seeing more homeless, said Steve Berg, spokesman for the National
Alliance to End Homelessness. He warned that additional job losses may add
to the problems.
Last week, the Labor Department (news - web sites) said the number of
laid-off workers drawing jobless benefits had reached an 18-year high. The
nation's unemployment rate soared to 5.4 percent in October and companies
eliminated 415,000 jobs, the biggest one-month drop in 21 years.
Nationwide, the homeless numbers are grim.
A March 2000 survey by the Census Bureau (news - web sites) found 280,527
homeless people around the country. The bureau reported that on the first
day of the three-day survey, 170,706 people were in homeless and emergency
shelters - including 59,000 combined in New York and California.
New York homeless shelter resident Christina Anderson, a mother of four
children ages 5 months to 15 years, fell behind on her $700 monthly rent.
Then she started missing work because she lacked child care and because of
frequent court appearances related to her eviction. She said she was fired
from her $21,000-a-year job at the state Department of Motor Vehicles.
``It's very hard on my children,'' Anderson said at a news conference held
by the homeless coalition. ``I feel like they've experienced separation
anxiety because I have had to ask family members to help house them.''
Like Anderson, shelter resident Joseph Franklin wants a job and a place to
live. But it's proven to be a tough task.
``I'm running into all kinds of closed doors,'' Franklin said. ``At times,
when people look at us and sometimes think we could do a little bit better,
it's not our fault. The help is not there.''
Housing families like Anderson's costs the city $3,000 a month; it's a
little less to shelter single homeless adults, said Patrick Markee, the
coalition's senior policy analyst.
Markee called on the city to expand programs that provide emergency grants
to keep at-risk families in their homes. But he said the biggest problem is
a lack of affordable housing.
The number of homeless people has steadily increased in New York since early
1998; last month, the shelter census reached 29,498 adults and children.
Nearly 6,600 families live in shelters and hotels each night.
Markee estimated that thousands more are on the streets.
Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) said the homeless shelter
population is higher than it has been in the past but said he didn't know if
it was at record levels.
``It's not quite over capacity yet, so we're going to have to expand the
emergency system to make sure we don't get there,'' he said. ``The emphasis
is going to have to be on making sure the system expands to fit the need,
and maybe some of that need will subside as we move farther away from Sept.
James Berger was one of hundreds of people who ate at Holy Apostles on
Monday. He has been getting some of his meals from soup kitchens since he
lost his janitorial job over the summer.
Berger has been able to share a two-bedroom apartment with six other people
by doing odd jobs, but that leaves little money for food.
``A good job with a good salary is hard to come by these days,'' Berger
said. ``People who complain about their jobs and the long hours should
realize how lucky they are.''
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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