Homeless on Long Island

Map from Planet Thoughts

Homelessness isn’t just a problem for the big cities of New York and Los Angeles.  It’s a global epidemic that affects small towns and suburbs alike.  And it is becoming an even bigger problem on Long Island. 

 According to The New York Times:

“At the beginning of this year, the [Nassau-Suffolk Coalition for the Homeless] census of unsheltered homeless people reported 781 homeless people in Nassau County and 1,728 in Suffolk County. ” 

This is a significantly lower number than what Newsday reported in March.  The paper said there were 4,000 homeless people living on the island.

Newsday also reported:

“Locally, the city’s homeless population has increased by 48 percent from 2000 to 2007, though there have been steep drops since since 2003, according to the city Department of Homeless Services.”

People become homeless for a variety of reasons.  The lack of available apartments and high rents on Long Island contribute to the rise.  

According to The New York Times, it’s very difficult to get an accurate count on the number of homeless in the area.

“Any trend is hard to quantify because the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development applied new guidelines this year for counting the homeless. Only those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, abandoned buildings or on the street and who identified themselves as homeless could be counted.”

The article continued:

“On Long Island, the problem of homelessness can be camouflaged by its general affluence and by the system that takes in the homeless — shelters on the Island are small, mostly unmarked homes, run by churches or nonprofit groups, that resemble boarding houses. The homeless population is also spread out — living in campgrounds and parks and on beaches — and is harder to see and to count.”

Nassau County is currently working on creating a 10-year plan that will provide permanent housing for the homeless.  But as temperatures on the island contribute to drop, more and more people are being left out in the cold.

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