The number of New York State residents who became homeless in the past year grew, bucking the national trend which saw a modest decline, according to a federal survey released Thursday.
New York’s homeless population rose by 7,864 to more than 77,000, the largest statewide increase, which was fueled in part by the weak economy.
Meanwhile, the overall number of homeless people nationwide declined for a third straight year, with veterans and families among groups that experienced the largest drops, the report said.
Since 2010, President Barack Obama’s administration has pledged to end homelessness among veterans and those experiencing long-term chronic homelessness by the end of 2015. The administration also promised to end homelessness among children, young adults and families by 2020.
Those goals, however, may not be met if Congress does not pump more money into programs aimed at helping the most vulnerable citizens, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said Thursday in a conference call with reporters.
“We have the right plans. We have the right programs, and now we need the political will to get this done,” Donovan said.
If Congress does nothing, beginning in January 2014, Donovan said programs that help the homeless will see a 5 percent reduction in federal funding due to automatic budget cuts, commonly known as the sequester.
On the night in late January when the annual count was conducted, 610,000 people across the country were homeless. More than half the nation’s homeless live in just five populous states: California, New York, Florida, Texas and Massachusetts.
Nearly a quarter of all people who are homeless were children. Another 10 percent were young adults, those under 25.
Like the state, homelessness in New York City also went up.
Across New York State, 77,430 people were counted as homeless. The study found nearly 83 percent of them, or 64,060, were in the five boroughs.
One of the driving forces behind the increases in homelessness in New York City, Donovan said, is the rise in the number of families who suffered job losses due to the poor economy.
Of the 77,430 homeless people, 73,273 lived in emergency shelters or some form of temporary housing designed to be transitional. The remainder, 4,157 people, lived in unsheltered locations such as parks, abandoned buildings, cars, airports or bus and train stations, according to the survey.
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