The Business of Homelessness: Financial & Human Costs of the Shelter-Industrial Complex

The Business of Homelessness: Financial & Human Costs of the Shelter-Industrial Complex

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In 2018, for the first time, the city’s share of homeless shelter spending will exceed a billion dollars a year. The Business of Homelessness: Financial & Human Costs of the Shelter-Industrial Complex is a participatory action research report that exposes the devastating impact of current budget priorities, and highlights constructive solutions that will ensure better outcomes for homeless New Yorkers and for NYC taxpayers as a whole. It’s the result of a year-long investigation by Picture the Homeless’s research committee into the fiscal policies and priorities that influence the lives of homeless New Yorkers, and how those priorities could be adjusted to support permanent, stable, and decent housing for the lowest income New Yorkers.

“‘Business as usual’ isn’t working,” said Charmel Lucas of Picture the Homeless, a shelter resident and one of the primary researchers on the report. “Shelters are costing taxpayers 1.8 billion dollars a year, but it’s not helping change the situation. The current status quo may be the result of bad decision-making by multiple mayoral administrations, but Mayor de Blasio has the power to help end the Business Of Homelessness by backing the bold brave ideas coming from homeless folks.”

“This groundbreaking report provides hard evidence for what we’ve always known is true – not only is building housing for our lowest-income neighbors possible, doing so would actually prove more financially sustainable in for our city in the long term,” said New York City Council Member Stephen Levin, chair of the Committee on General Welfare, which oversees homeless spending. “I applaud Picture the Homeless for its fearless work, and urge the de Blasio administration to start to adapt some of their common-sense, cost-effective solutions.”

“For years homeless people have known that the shelter system was profiting on their backs,” said Scott Hutchins of Picture the Homeless, a shelter resident and report researcher. “Now we have not only assembled the evidence to prove our case, but realistic recommendations to correct the problem and end the homeless crisis.”