What are the causes of shelter entry among single-adults and families?

Ashwin Parulkar, Senior Research Specialist

Daniel C. Farrell, Senior Vice President, Homeless Prevention, Diversion and Research

A HELP USA literature review analyzed the causes of homelessness, in urban America and NYC,  and the pathways into NYC’s shelter system among single adults and families, respectively.

The review found that most of NYC’s shelter clients are native New Yorkers from Black and Latinx communities located in the city’s poorest districts.  Homelessness in NYC  is linked to structural inequalities that have undermined the access of these communities to affordable housing since the mid-20th century. The single adult homeless population, additionally, exhibits high incarceration rates.

Family homelessness is, principally, driven by eviction, which is one potential outcome of limited affordable housing options in historically disenfranchised locations. 

The literature review recommends that housing vouchers should be available to men and women exiting jail and prison to address single adult homelessness.  It recommends increasing eviction prevention measures and the stock of affordable public housing for at-risk families as well as the accessibility of housing assistance vouchers for families that are currently homeless.

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