NYC residents believe homelessness is a growing issue and shelter should be provided to all those who need it

Homelessness is a relentless issue in many cities across America – including cities with fast growing economies. Tackling homelessness requires not only an understanding of the problems that lie at the heart of the issue, but also insights into how ordinary citizens perceive the homeless and how they think the homeless can be helped and homelessness can be reduced. For this reason, we partnered with Win to conduct a study that dives deep into the perception of homelessness by New York City residents, one of biggest cities in the US. The findings of our study were fascinating. Here is a list of some of the most interesting take-aways: 

There is near universal consensus on the imperative to tackle New York City’s homelessness problem

  • 92% of NYC residents across all boroughs believe more needs to be done to address homelessness in the City
  • 52% of respondents think that NYC has too few shelters for the homeless
  • 59% support a homeless shelter opening in their neighborhood
  • Six in ten New Yorkers believe that the issue of homelessness in New York City has gotten worse over the course of the past five years and only one in four believe the issue of homelessness will get better in the next five years

 When asked to picture the face of the city’s homeless population, NYC residents mostly picture single adults, even though families with children make up 70% of New York City’s homeless shelter population 

  • 62% of New York City residents picture single adults – rather than families with children – when they think about most homeless people in New York City.
  • 36% think that “families with children” make up a majority of New York City’s homeless population.

 When asked about solutions needed to tackle the issue of homelessness, NYC residents gave overwhelming support for all of the following policy proposals:

  • 90% support providing supportive services, including career counseling and help maintaining housing, for families leaving homeless shelters so that they do not need to return.
  • 87% support providing access to subsidized child care for homeless and formerly homeless young children.
  • 87% support providing tax incentives for employers who train and hire homeless and formerly homeless parents.
  • 80% support increasing the value of rent vouchers that some homeless families receive to help pay part of the rent for an apartment or a home.
  • 79% support requiring new housing developments to set aside a certain number of apartments specifically for homeless families.
  • 70% support creating an additional 90 homeless shelters throughout the city.

 New Yorkers have a hard time wrapping their heads around how someone can have a job and also be homeless

  • 67% of New York City residents think that most people who are homeless in New York City are unemployed (versus believing that most people who are homeless in New York City have a job).
  • 65% of New York City residents agree that having a job is enough to keep someone out of homelessness.

 “The study shows homelessness is a rising problem and that New Yorkers expect it to worsen,” said Dritan Nesho, CEO of HarrisX. “Citizens view the cost of chronic homelessness as far exceeding the cost of driving education on the issue, building more shelters and affordable housing, and enacting policies aimed at getting homeless families back on their feet.”


Click here for an overview of the Win-HarrisX New York City Homelessness study.

And you can find the full findings of our survey here.