Gridlock 2.0.

Author:Murphy, Jarrett
Position::LOOK BACK: REVISITING IMAGES AND STORIES FROM OUR ARCHIVE
 
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"Nobody denies that the shelters for homeless families are jammed with people," wrote Andrew White in a story headlined "Shelter Gridlock" that appeared in City Limits in November 1991, 20 years ago this month. "As of Sept. 30, about 4,800 families were in the shelter system--more than 15,000 people, a number nearly equal to the record set in 1987."

The city contended that the shelters were trying to deal with an onslaught of new applicants.

But White discovered that of the 200 families that the Dinkins administration claimed were storming the intake system each month, only 30 or so were truly new; the majority were families who had been rejected during a previous attempt to get a place to stay.

The problem wasn't that more people were coming in but that fewer were leaving. Out of worry that people were turning up at shelters to get free apartments, the city had imposed a policy that barred shelter residents from getting housing during the first nine months of their stay. So people in shelters were waiting. And waiting some more.

As of Sept. 28, 2011, there were 8,387 families with children and an additional 9,500 adults living as couples or singles in the city's shelters, for a total of 38,785...

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