In October 2016, Win released The Forgotten Face of Homelessness, citywide public advocacy campaign to highlight the spiraling number of homeless women and their children in New York City’s shelter system.

Forgotten Face of Homelessness

The report examines the scope and forces driving the family homelessness crisis and offers a portrait of the average family in a Win shelter. The report also proposes a series of policy solutions to create housing stability of vulnerable families with children. To learn more about homeless families and Win’s policy platform, the Forgotten Face of Homelessness can be found here.

The Challenge

The number of families with children arriving at a New York City homeless shelter increased in 2016, continuing the upward trend over the past five years. While the public perception of homelessness in New York City is single adults, approximately 70 percent of homeless New Yorkers are families with children. In fact, in contrast to single homeless adults, over 99 percent of homeless families with children are sheltered. The more visible plight of homeless adults and the media’s focus on them has skewed the narrative causing families with children to become the forgotten face of homelessness.

Our Solution

Win proposes a series of forward thinking policies designed to: shift the focus of intervention to the whole family, not just the parent; determining what number of shelter units are needed and proactively identify locations for adequate, high-quality Tier II shelter; reduce excessive barriers to grant more families access to subsidized and supportive housing; and use data to inform service provision and aftercare to better support the transition from shelter once a family is ready to maintain housing stability. We must take a holistic view of homelessness that:

  • Focuses on families and children, not just the parent(s)
  • Enhances our city’s processes for addressing homelessness by developing a multi-year plan for construction of the necessary number of units
  • Prioritizes long-term stability over moving homeless families out of shelter quickly, before they’re ready to move
  • Provides support to meet the long-term needs of homeless families once they leave shelter

Fast Facts:

  • Approximately 70 percent of homeless New Yorkers in the city’s shelters are families with children
  • Over 99 percent of homeless families with children are sheltered in New York, three in contrast to single homeless adults, of whom an estimated 2,800 are chronically homeless and living on New York City streets on a winter night
  • Win families fall well below the threshold of extremely low income, defined as earning 30 percent or less of the area median income, which is $24,500 for a family of three in New York City.

Media Strategy:

In an effort educate the public about the moms and children most affected by the homelessness crisis in NYC, Win launched a city-wide public information advertising campaign showcasing the ‘Forgotten Faces of Homelessness’ on MTA buses, subway platforms, billboards and online. The goal of this media campaign is to push a more holistic and comprehensive view of homelessness in the press, among the public, and with policymakers. View the ads below: