June 20, 2017

Enterprise Co-Convenes Summit, Presents Recommendations to Address New York City’s Family Homelessness Crisis

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New York Family Homelessness Summit

This week, Enterprise Community Partners, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York and New Destiny Housing  convened a Family Homelessness Summit to bring together city and state agencies, nonprofit service providers, academics, foundations and interested New Yorkers to call attention to New York City’s family homelessness crisis. 

They also released Prioritizing Homeless Children and Their Families: A Report and Recommendations Based on the Work of the Family Homelessness Task Force, which lays out a series of recommendations developed through their work with more than 40 organizations that participated in the Family Homelessness Task Force.  With nearly 70% of the city’s shelter population composed of children and their families with average shelter stays of more than 430 days, the Summit and recommendations come at a critical time, equipping the city to better address the family homelessness crisis.

Setting the Stage to Reduce Family Homelessness

By convening a diverse audience and presenting concrete action items from the work of the Family Homelessness Task Force, the event set the stage for their efforts to build upon work already underway to reduce family homelessness in the city and enhance the well-being of homeless children and their families.

“Family homelessness is so devastating in part because it destabilizes the lives of children and prevents the next generation from reaching their potential,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise was proud to work with CCC and New Destiny to convene organizations working on this issue to come up with recommendations that help families and children in shelter, support them once they leave to make sure they never become homeless again and fight for change that prevents them from losing their homes in the first place.”

Last night, more than 22,000 New York City children slept in shelters operated by the Department of Homeless Services, nearly half of which were cluster sites or hotels. Homelessness is traumatic to children and their families and can lead to educational disruptions, absenteeism, health and mental health issues and increased risk of future homelessness. 

 “CCC was pleased to partner with Enterprise, New Destiny and the members of the Family Homelessness Task Force. While the City and State have taken many critical steps to address the family homelessness crisis, too many children and families remain in shelter for too long, many in hotels or cluster sites far from their schools and communities.  We look forward to advancing and implementing the recommendations designed to improve their well-being and ensure that their needs for housing, education, early education and other social services can be better met,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children.

The Summit followed nearly a year of work by the Family Homelessness Task Force, which Enterprise, Citizens’ Committee for Children and New Destiny convened to draw more attention to family homelessness in New York City. The event featured a keynote from Dr. Ellen Bassuk, a researcher and advocate for homeless families for more than 30 years, and two panel discussions, one with government agencies and one with service providers.

Key recommendations from the Family Homelessness Task Force include:

1. Prevent children and their families from becoming homeless.

  1. Strengthen and better enforce rent-stabilization policies statewide and educate tenants about their rights.
  2. Help families at all levels of housing stability—not just those on the brink of homelessness—identify their needs and get the services they need.
  3. Develop alternatives to shelter for families headed by domestic violence survivors who can move safely to permanent housing.
  4. Support State enactment of Assembly member Hevesi’s Home Stability Support proposal and the City agreeing to fund the gap between the State’s share and 100% of the fair market rent.

2. Promote and enhance the well-being of children and families in the shelter system.

  1. Ensure all families are placed in safe and appropriate shelter facilities and receive the services they need.
  2. Improve educational outcomes for homeless children and families by taking additional steps to reduce absenteeism and ensuring young children are enrolled in early education programs.

3. Help families in shelter access permanent affordable housing and receive the support needed to remain housed.

  1. Increase the supply of affordable housing designated for homeless families with children.
  2. Better target existing resources for homeless families.
  3. Provide additional post-shelter support services that prevent families from becoming homeless ever again.

“Family homelessness presents a major challenge to New York City that affects multiple generations,” said New Destiny Executive Director Carol Corden.  “By examining the causes of family homelessness, including domestic violence, the Task Force seeks to focus greater attention on the devastating impact of homelessness for children and their parents and to present some actionable solutions to addressing the problem.”

Following the Summit, Enterprise, Citizens’ Committee for Children and New Destiny will, together with interested Task Force members and other colleagues, advance the recommendations and partner with the City and the State to improve the lives of homeless children and their families.

Enterprise would like to thank the following partners for supporting our critical work to address family homelessness:

  • Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • Mizuho Americas
  • Santander Bank