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Unemployment and Family Homelessness: The Nation’s Crisis, New York City’s Experience

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This report explores unemployment and public assistance programs in New York City. With a 10.6 percent unemployment rate and rising welfare rolls, the authors predict that the numbers of families and children living in homeless shelters will increase to 10,600 and 16,900 — increases of 13 and 15 percent, respectively — by the end of Fiscal Year 2010.

Even before the recession hit in December 2007, New York City had a large homeless family population, with a monthly average of more than 9,000 families sleeping in shelters each night. During 2009 alone, however, the number of families entering the shelter system increased by 33 percent compared to the previous year. The increase in family homelessness comes at a time when the New York City Housing Authority, facing serious federal assistance shortfalls, has announced that it will not fund additional Section 8 vouchers for 2010 and that it will terminate about 2,500 vouchers already issued to families but not yet used.

The report also explores the national scope of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) programs. It was produced by the Institute for Children and Poverty (ICP), an independent nonprofit that generates research to enhance public policies and programs affecting poor or homeless children and their families.

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We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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