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August 23, 2012

Rising Demand Strains New York Homeless-Shelter Network

More people are staying for longer periods in New York City homeless shelters, adding to the pressure on a system already struggling with record demand, writes The Wall Street Journal.

On Monday the shelter population citywide totaled 44,604 people, up 17.5 percent, according to recently released city data. More than 40 percent of the residents were children, and average stays have lengthened considerably for all categories of homeless people, from 270 days for single adults to more than a year for adult families.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration has opened nine new shelters since June in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, five of them catering to families with children.

Mary Brosnahan, executive director of advocacy group the Coalition for the Homeless, said New York has entered a "new era" in homelessness. "The city has absolutely no plan to move homeless families with children out of shelters into permanent housing, so, of course, the shelter stays are going up and they are going to continue to go up," she said.