With a national housing shortage causing both home and rental prices to shoot through the roof, it should be no surprise that homelessness is also on the rise. In many cases, even people who are employed full-time can’t afford rent, or find housing in the same area as their jobs. Many are relegated to commuting an hour or more each way, every day. Cities that have already traditionally had a large homelessness problem are now finding themselves in crisis. New York City has long been considered one of the most expensive places to live in the US, but the national housing shortage has left an estimated 77,000 residents without a home.
Unfortunately, homelessness is not an easy problem to fix, for a number of reasons. Here are 3 of the biggest challenges to solving the homeless crisis in New York City.
- Many employed residents are also homeless
Many people working full-time jobs cannot even afford housing in NYC, yet the city is hugely dependent on its low and minimum wage workers. The wealthy and elite that can still easily afford skyrocketing rents actually depend the most on the services of lower paid service workers, but resent them living on their streets because they cannot afford housing. Conversely, with property values as high as they are, no one wants to give up the profit potential of a single inch of valuable real estate for low income housing.
- Real estate is a for-profit enterprise
While low income housing may be subsidized by the government, it is still constructed, owned or managed by private businesses. When there is a housing shortage, however, there is too much money to be made from commercial developments to waste time with lower paying government contracts. Low income housing is not actually owned by the government, so when real estate prices skyrocket, low income housing gets torn down to make way for housing with a much higher profit margin. Even when cities try and institute any kind of rent control policies, there are too many loopholes, and such initiatives generally fail.
- Turning away from shelter
Contrary to popular belief, an increasing amount of homeless residents are opting to stay on the street in lieu of attending a shelter; this stems from a general fear of being harmed or robbed due to improper screening of entrees. As a result, some have instead avoided shelter altogether, effectively resisting current efforts to shore up the issue as a whole.