It has been nearly two years since Advantage NY, a rent subsidy program that helped thousands of  homeless families in New York City find permanent, affordable housing, was terminated, and the effects have been devastating. According to the Coalition for the Homeless, each night over 50,000 New Yorkers stay in a municipal shelter, an increase of 69 percent since 2002. Unconscionably, 22,000 of these individuals are children. Andrea Elliott’s article in today’s New York Times, Invisible Child, exposes the ruinous effects of growing up in the shelter system. Today’s article (part 1 of 5) tells the story of  11 year old Desani and her life at the Auburn Family Residences, a notoriously derelict  NYC shelter located in Fort Greene, Brooklyn that houses over 100 families.

Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio’s  made affordable housing one of his key campaign promises. According to the campaign website his affordable housing policy will include “New vouchers [that] will enable them [the homeless] to afford private housing — at a fraction of the cost of a shelter stay. And as mayor, Bill de Blasio will reverse the Bloomberg administration’s policy and make a portion of Section 8 vouchers and vacant NYCHA apartments available again to homeless families leaving shelter. These are tried-and-tested solutions that help families avoid crisis.” With over 250,000 individuals on the waiting list for New York City public housing and the fact that an average stay for families in the shelter system now exceeds one year, reinstating this voucher program is critical to helping the lives of the most at-risk families in the City.