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Forgotten Face of Homelessness: Housing Instability

The path to housing stability is seldom straight. It’s jagged. And that’s true for a reason: our city is experiencing the worst housing instability crisis in its history. We can no longer ignore the links between our city’s surging homelessness crisis and its declining stock of quality, affordable housing. To help shine a light on the ways in which families struggle to secure a stable home, Win is releasing the third in a series of policy solutions that empower families in need: The Forgotten Face of Homelessness: Housing Instability.

The report is accompanied by a citywide public advocacy campaign to address the daunting challenges facing low-income New Yorkers trying to maintain housing for their families. Preceding the report’s release, Win commisioned a first-of-its-kind survey that polled New York City residents’ perceptions on homelessness.

See the report

Explore last year’s campaign

The challenge

More and more homeless New Yorkers are experiencing housing instability than ever before

In the first months of 2019, an average of 2,600 families per month sought shelter in New York City. For the majority of homeless families with children who apply for shelter, this is not the first time they have packed their belongings without knowing where they will sleep next.

  • The number of New York City families in shelter has risen by 17 percent over the past five years, and the average length of stay in shelter continues to be over a year.
  • Escalating rents across the city and a sharp decrease in the number of affordable housing units continues to put inordinate pressure on low-income families, who face difficult struggles to maintain housing. If they do enter shelter, homeless families must overcome multiple barriers to return to a home of their own.

The impact of housing instability on NYC homeless families

Housing instability can last for months and sometimes years, with parents and children routinely experiencing the stress, insecurity, and anxiety of knowing they might not be able to stay where they are, but no better options exist.

Our solution

Reforms to help homeless families

Win is calling for reforms to help New York families secure and maintain permanent housing in an effort to break the cycle of homelessness and reduce periods spent living in shelter.  These steps will meaningfully reduce instability and improve outcomes, ensuring greater housing stability for the thousands of families and children who experience homelessness.

  • Ensure that families in need can access appropriate shelter services through reforms to the city’s Family Intake Process and the creation of a shelter development fund for proven nonprofit providers.
  • Help families obtain stable housing with an increase in the rental assistance voucher amounts and enforcement of fair housing laws.
  • Provide families with tools to maintain a permanent home, including 18 months of aftercare, subsidies for child care, and pathways to quality employment.

Learn more about our policy recommendations.



Help Win break the cycle of homelessness for our women and children:

In March, Win surveyed over 1,000 New York City residents on their perceptions on homelessness in their city.

View Results from our Forgotten Face of Homelessness: Housing Instability Survey: