Comptroller Stringer Releases Sweeping New Report Showing Domestic Violence is the Leading Driver of Homelessness and Proposes Comprehensive Roadmap to Support Survivors
In FY 2018, domestic violence accounted for 41 percent of the family population entering shelter – the single largest cause of homelessness and a 44 percent increase in five years
The use of commercial hotels for families entering shelter due to domestic violence skyrocketed between FY 2014 and FY 2018, from 0.1 percent of all placements to 21 percent
Over 7,000 children entered a DHS shelter as a result of domestic violence, more than half (56 percent) of whom were under 6 years of age
During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Comptroller calls on City to change approach to better support domestic violence survivors and renews call for new housing plan targeted to New Yorkers in greatest need
New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today released a sweeping newreporton the intersection of domestic violence and homelessness, showing that domestic violence has surged ahead as the leading driver of homelessness in New York City, and proposed a comprehensive roadmap to support survivors. Comptroller Stringer’s report is the most comprehensive analysis to date of how domestic violence contributes to homelessness, the scope of services available to and utilized by survivors, and the needed policy prescriptions to stem this growing crisis. The Comptroller found that in FY 2018, domestic violence accounted for 41 percent of the family population entering homeless shelters – an increase of 44 percent in five years. The Comptroller’s report also found that the use of costly commercial hotels for families entering shelter due to domestic violence skyrocketed between FY 2014 and FY 2018, with 21 percent of families placed in hotels, up from only 0.1 percent.
To address this growing challenge, Comptroller Stringer called on the City to pursue a series of targeted policy recommendations aimed at connecting domestic violence survivors to permanent housing and preventing extended periods of homelessness. The Comptroller’s roadmap would create paths for survivors to attain both housing and economic stability and tackle the homelessness crisis in New York City by directly addressing its single largest contributor.
“Every year, thousands of domestic violence survivors are pushed to the brink, experience homelessness, and have no way of finding a stable home for themselves and their children. It’s a tragedy – but we cannot accept this status quo as just the way things are. We must do more to lift up survivors who need a City government as their unwavering ally,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer. “With this report, we’re turning over a new stone in the fight to tackle the homelessness crisis, by shining a light on the pervasive impact of domestic violence on housing instability. As a City, we are judged by how we treat our most vulnerable, which is why it’s time to step up and act. No family that has entered a domestic violence shelter should ever leave without access to stable housing or find themselves placed in a commercial hotel. It is not enough to say we support survivors – we need to put our money where our mouth is and implement bold reforms to actually provide survivors with the support they need to achieve long-term housing and economic independence.”
The Comptroller’s report showed how domestic violence has become a primary driver of New York City’s homeless crisis. The analysis found:
In FY 2018, domestic violence accounted for 41 percent of the family population entering the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system, and the number of families entering each year rose 44 percent from FY 2014.
In FY 2018 alone, 12,541 people entered a DHS shelter due to domestic violence. That includes more than 4,500 women and 7,000 children, more than half (56 percent) of whom were under 6 years of age.
The use of costly commercial hotels for families with children entering shelter due to domestic violence has increased dramatically, with 923 such families placed in hotels in FY 2018, compared to only two in FY 2014. While only 0.1 percent of all families entering due to domestic violence were placed in hotels in FY 2014, 21 percent were in FY 2018.
The number of families leaving DV shelter and subsequently entering the DHS homeless shelter system increased every year between FY 2015 and FY 2018. In FY 2018 alone, more than 600 families (27 percent) who exited a City DV shelter ended up in a DHS shelter system within 30 days, which was twice the number of families who exited to subsidized housing.
Neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn accounted for the most DHS shelter entries due to domestic violence between FY 2014 and FY 2018, with 38 percent of survivors having previously resided in the Bronx and 30 percent entering shelter from Brooklyn. More survivors entered shelter from the Hunts Point, Longwood and Melrose neighborhood in the Bronx than any other community, followed by Belmont, Crotona Park East, East Tremont, Bedford Park, Fordham North, and Norwood, also in the Bronx.
Families who exit to permanent housing with a government subsidy are much less likely to return to shelter, but in FY 2018, 51 percent of survivors exiting the DHS shelter system did not have a housing subsidy. According to the Mayor’s Management Report (MMR), one in five (21.6 percent) families with children exiting to an unsubsidized placement returned to shelter within one year, while only 1.3 percent of families with children with a subsidy returned to shelter.
Of the 1,839 families who did exit to a permanent placement with a subsidy in FY 2018, about two-thirds received some form of rental assistance, while an additional 28 percent secured housing through the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Only 2 percent of families exited to supportive housing.
Comptroller Stringer’s analysis found that despite the City’s record spending on homelessness, existing City resources are not sufficiently helping survivors build safe, independent lives and preventing homelessness. The Comptroller is therefore proposing comprehensive policy changes to increase housing stability for survivors in New York City, including:
Expand residential and non-residential services
New York City should increase the capacity of the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) domestic violence shelter system and end the practice of placing survivors in commercial hotel rooms rented by DHS.
The City should also work with the State to extend the 180-day time limit in DV shelter on a case-by-case basis, and the City should ensure every domestic violence shelter has dedicated housing specialists.
New York City must expand access to mental health support and dedicate supportive housing units and affordable housing for domestic violence survivors.
Strengthen legal protections
The Governor should expeditiously sign recently passed legislation introduced by Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi to reform New York’s early lease termination law so survivors do not need to obtain a court order, alert their abuser, or be current on rent to leave an unsafe home.
New York City should explore ways to reinforce its housing anti-discrimination policies, including by explicitly prohibiting landlords and brokers from refusing tenancy based on criminal history or a low credit score stemming from a prospective tenant’s identity as a survivor of domestic violence.
The State should amend the Public Service Law to assist survivors who have recently fled an abusive living situation to ensure continuation or restoration of utility service.
Increase financial assistance to support survivors’ access to housing
The State should enact legislation proposed by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi to create a new statewide rent supplement, Home Stability Support, for vulnerable populations including domestic violence survivors.
The City should develop a survivor housing stability fund for survivors regardless of immigration status and income.
The City should increase the availability of free and reduced-cost legal services for survivors.
New York City should expand upon the success of the five existing Family Justice Centers and create additional centers in high-incidence areas of domestic violence.
To combat the shortage of affordable housing in the city and to reverse the rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness, the City should triple the number of affordable housing units, as Comptroller Stringer called for last year, and set aside 15 percent of it for homeless New Yorkers on an annual basis, so that the New Yorkers in greatest need have access to stable, permanent housing.
“The Comptroller’s report reveals that the highest number of domestic violence survivors in the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters are from the Bronx community, mostly women and children. Bronx residents suffering from domestic abuse must have more options than choosing to remain with an abuser or enter into a shelter. It is critical that New York City and State work together to create financial and legislative investment, and expand avenues for domestic violence survivors to access safe housing and residential services. I appreciate NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s leadership to address this issue, and look forward to working together to support survivors and give more New Yorkers access to safe housing,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.
Mayor Bill de Blasio when confronted by this reporter, admitted that homeless people were sent to the Bronx from other boroughs. Mayor de Blasio said that practice would stop, unless it was an emergency situation, which continues.
State Senator Alessandra Biaggi needs to do her homework to find out just where the homeless people came from and why that Mayor de Blasio admitted were sent to the Bronx from other boroughs. That instead of just having a statement by Comptroller Stringer who worked vigorously on her campaign last year placed in his press release.