New York City, faced since the 1970s with growing numbers of homeless individuals and families, and aggressive litigation on their behalf, has built the largest public shelter system in the United States as the centerpiece of its response to homelessness. The size of this system -- both its average daily census of 24,472 in 1995, and its annual expenditures of $500 million -- is far beyond the scope of any other city's efforts against homelessness. Yet despite the scale of these measures the shelter system has faced crises and controversies through three mayoral administrations and their varied approaches to reducing the need for this system. This chapter assesses homelessness policy in New York City through analyzing empirical data collected from the shelter system. A variety of approaches produce a set of shelter utilizations and trends that, taken together, form a unique and grounded perspective from which to evaluate key components of this policy.
- New York City,
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