New York Times – After making progress in reducing homelessness among veterans, the Obama administration is turning to the larger and more complicated challenge of homelessness among families with young children.
In his 2017 budget, to be presented on Tuesday, President Obama will propose spending $11 billion over the next 10 years to fight family homelessness, a phenomenon that is closely linked to the dearth of affordable housing in New York and other big cities.
Of that amount, $8.8 billion would go to housing vouchers and $2.2 billion to more short-term assistance.
Homelessness among veterans has dropped by 36 percent around the country since 2010, and in several cities, including Houston, New Orleans and New York, the decreases have surpassed the national average.
But family homelessness has proved more persistent as low wages fail to keep pace with skyrocketing housing costs in many cities.
In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio has endured repeated criticism for his handling of homelessness, and many shelters have remained near or at capacity.
Nationwide, about 64,000 families, including roughly 123,000 children, are homeless. More than half of homeless families with children are in five states — New York, California, Massachusetts, Florida and Texas — according to data from the 2015 annual homeless count by the federalDepartment of Housing and Urban Development.
About 26 percent of homeless families are in New York State, which had the largest one-year increase in family homelessness from 2014 to 2015, with the bulk living in New York City. As of Wednesday, about 12,000 families with children were in shelters overseen by the city’s Department of Homeless Services.
“We can see that in New York City specifically, there is a tremendous need,” said Julián Castro, the federal housing secretary. “As New York City goes, so goes the nation.”
In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Castro and Shaun Donovan, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said that the $11 billion proposal was intended to help end family homelessness by 2020.
Mr. Castro said he expected New York City to get a significant share of the funds, though he did not have an estimate. He was scheduled to join Mr. de Blasio on Monday night for the city’s annual count of people living on the street.
Data collection helped shape Mr. Obama’s $11 billion proposal, said Mr. Donovan, who preceded Mr. Castro as the housing secretary and who before that led New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
An analysis by HUD, called the Family Options Study, compared the effectiveness of vouchers with an option known as “rapid rehousing.”
The latter seeks to ensure that a family never goes into homelessness or quickly moves out of a shelter and back into housing by providing short-term assistance, like one month’s rent or a security deposit.
In a foreword to the study, which was published last July, Katherine M. O’Regan, a federal assistant housing secretary, said the review had found that permanent subsidies, or vouchers, were far more effective.
“Families who were offered a housing voucher experienced significant reductions in subsequent homelessness, mobility, child separations, adult psychological distress, experiences of intimate partner violence, school mobility among children and food insecurity at 18 months,” Ms. O’Regan said.
The cost of vouchers was also similar to the costs of rapid rehousing and emergency shelter, she said in the foreword.
In addition to the $11 billion plan, Mr. Obama is proposing discretionary spending on 10,000 new housing vouchers; 8,000 new units for rapid rehousing; and 25,500 new units of supportive housing, or housing that is coupled with social services. That additional spending would have to be approved through an appropriations bill.
Bipartisan support helped bring about the success of housing homeless veterans, support that Mr. Castro said he believed could be marshaled for homelessness among families as well. “We’re ready to work with people on both sides of aisle,” he said.