The Crisis of Homelessness in New York City

Learn about homelessness in NYC: statistics & causes. Find out how many homeless people are living in NYC & what laws are being implemented.

The Crisis of Homelessness in New York City

Homelessness is a national issue that has reached a critical point in New York City. Everywhere you look, you can see the effects of this crisis - on the subway, on the street, at school and at work. It's a reality that affects us all, as we interact with colleagues, friends and neighbors who are or are at risk of becoming homeless. Everyone deserves a safe place to rest their head at night and to experience the incredible opportunities that come with living in one of the greatest cities in the world.

Unfortunately, for around 80,000 of our fellow New Yorkers, these possibilities are complicated by the experience of homelessness. According to Mayor Eric Adams, nearly 80 people a week accepted shelter for a four-week period in the subway. However, authorities have yet to report how many stayed away from the street. Laws and regulations related to begging in New York State are largely managed by each of the state's 62 cities.

In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression. Here you can find key statistics on the population of homeless shelters in New York City and a brief overview of some of the major factors causing homelessness today. The Coalition for the Homeless provides up-to-date information on New York City's homeless population. Census Bureau; Population Estimation for the Homeless (HOPE), New York City Department of Homeless Services; Poverty in New York, Furman Center.

New York City has taken steps to get homeless people out of the subway system and street camps and into shelters. In 1979, Robert Hayes, a lawyer from New York City, filed a class action lawsuit in court called Callahan v. Many of New York State's largest cities have also introduced laws in the past decade that prohibit “aggressive begging” in any form. In 2004, the New York Department of Homeless Services (DHS) created HomeBase - a network of local services - to help tenants in housing crisis stay in their communities and avoid entering a shelter.

The 1993 Loper case was a challenge to the state law of the New York Penal Code (Article 240.35) (which made it a crime to prowl in a public place for the purpose of begging).