The Affordable Housing Crisis in New York City

In the wake of a $37 million cut to the federal Section 8 voucher program, thousands of enrolled New Yorkers have been forced to move out of their apartments due to an inability to maintain rent payments.

Section 8 allows low-income families to live in private buildings while paying 30 percent of their income on rent, assisting 33,000 New York City households with the incredibly high cost of living in the city. New York’s affordable housing crisis has prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to champion an increase in public housing over the next 10 years by planning to preserve 120,000 housing units and build 80,000 new ones.

McSilverType3Maintaining affordable housing been a struggle for New York City officials, and now the City’s homelessness rate is at a level not seen since the Great Depression. According to a report issued by the Coalition for the Homeless, the number of people sleeping each night in a shelter has increased 7 percent over the past year – from 50,135 people in January 2013 to 53,615 in January 2014. To decrease homelessness and the high cost of the shelter system, the Coalition for the Homeless proposes a five-fold plan: target long-term housing subsidies to move children and families from emergency shelters to long-term housing, convert shelter units to long-term housing units, invest in permanent housing programs for people with mental illness, simplify access to emergency shelter programs for vulnerable populations, and implement comprehensive homelessness prevention programs.


Direct Service Implications

Due to the current housing crisis, organizations that include housing programs in their services will see an influx of clients in need of permanent, affordable housing. Particularly relevant to direct service providers is the Coalition for the Homeless’ proposed plan, particularly for Office of Mental Health licensed providers the proposed investment in housing resources for people with mental illness.

There are a number of advocacy and service based organizations working to end homelessness in New York City, some with focuses on the broader homeless population and others more specifically targeting groups such as veterans, LGBTQ youth, families, immigrant and undocumented New Yorkers, and more. The Department of Homeless Services is a good starting point for social service organizations whose clients may increasingly need appropriate referrals and services, and the Coalition for the Homeless website has tremendous resources and information.


Courtesy of McSilver Institute of Poverty Policy and Research who has kindly given SJS permission to syndicate this piece.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the Policy News Briefs are not necessarily the views of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research or NYU’s Silver School of Social Work. If you have comments or suggestions about this service, contact us at


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