The ranks of the homeless in New York City are swelling, and with them the number of homeless children. Life on the streets of the Big Apple is tough enough to drive adults to despair; how much more so a child?
Sometimes life in a homeless shelter is more than a 14-year-old can handle.
Francheska Luciano, who is among a growing number of homeless children in the city, said living in a shelter was “like living in hell.”
“I’m tired of this,” she said Friday while sitting on a curb outside a shelter intake center in the Bronx with her mother and little sisters. “It’s a nightmare every day.”
Those are the lead paragraphs in the recent The New York Daily News coverage of the staggering rise in homeless numbers. The reason they start off their reporting that way is because the most unsettling number their research unearthed was just how many kids sleep in shelters or with no roof at all.
The number of children in the city’s shelters hit 19,000 last week, the most recent city data available show.
‘Not since the grim days of the Great Depression has New York City had 20,000 children sleeping homeless each night,’ said Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst with the Coalition for the Homeless.
This news follows the well-publicized statement last August by Mayor Bloomberg who opined that New York City shelters offer a “much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before.” The implication that people are subject to overcrowding because they do not want to leave the shelter system is hard to avoid – specially in contrast to stories like the recent New York Times profile on a nine-year-old girl living in a Manhattan homeless shelter.
No matter how you parse it, the bottom line is that almost 20,000 children are experiencing their early lives on the streets of the city.
How humane is it to continue to accept and enable homelessness in America – especially when the homeless in question are children.