The Partnership for the Homeless

Arnold Cohen interview on PIX11

NEW YORK (PIX11) - On a night when a mild autumn gave way to a cold streak in the Bronx, a single mother fled the dipping temperatures for a homeless shelter.

This is her last resort, and has been for several weeks.

Unfortunately on this chilly night, 21-year-old Patricia and her eight-month-old son  are not alone in their desperate reliance on the city’s vast network of homeless shelters.

According to the Department of Homeless Services – on Friday, November 8th, more than ten thousand, five hundred families (10,559) – that’s more than twenty-two thousand children slept in a homeless shelter.

At first glance, and depending where in the city you’re looking, homelessness may no longer appear to be a problem.

“We keep it out of sight so that folks in the city think, my goodness, Bloomberg is solving this problem. But that’s not true. In fact, it’s worse than it’s ever been before,” said Partnership for the Homeless CEO Arnold Cohen.

But Partnership for the Homeless CEO Arnold Cohen says the city’s latest figure of some thirty-one hundred homeless people living on the street, is likely undercounted.

Cohen adds those who are lucky enough to get off the street, have simply been moved into another situation that won’t help them in the long run.

“If you look at some statistics alone of children who have experienced homelessness, only 25 percent ever graduate from high school. So we’re dooming another generation if really don’t act,” said Cohen.

Bronx Community Board Number 4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez spends his days navigating the fine line between addressing the needs of the homeless moving into shelters — and a community that isn’t necessarily happy with their presence here.

“Most of the homeless shelters that are in the city are in low income communities. Out of 370 homeless shelters in New York city, the Bronx has 149. We have 31 of those shelters in board four,” said Rodriguez.

Despite the tens of thousands of people who are either living in the street or in shelters, a spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg says the administration has been successful in keeping homeless families safe.

“While shelters around the country put up ‘no vacancy’ signs and turn families to the streets, New York City – like no other city in the nation — provides safe shelter for anyone who has no place else to stay,” said Deputy Press Secretary Samantha Levine.

Patricia, the twenty-one year old homeless single mother says, while she’s grateful for the city’s services, joining the ranks of the tens of thousands of families who spend years rotating in and out of homeless shelters is not an option.

To view the video of the broadcast, please visit