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The number of families who entered New York City homeless shelters to escape domestic violence grew by 44 percent over the past four years, according to a report from City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
“It's a crisis that explains so much about how and why the city is failing to make any dent in the homeless population,” he said during a press conference on Monday.
Domestic violence has been the main driver of homelessness since 2016, outpacing eviction by 14 percent last year. It likely reflects an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents, which went up by almost 7 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to city data, as well as improved reporting and disclosure.
Last year, 4,467 families entered the city's shelter system as a result of domestic violence.
When possible, domestic violence survivors are placed in a separate system of shelters run by the New York City Human Resources Administration. But state policy limits their stay there to 180 days, which sometimes means moving these families to shelters for general population run by the Department of Homeless Services.
“I lived in both shelters,” said Alida Tchicamboud, a domestic violence survivor who spoke during the Monday conference. “That was a nightmare because from a DV [domestic violence], which was really confidential, nice shelter, proper and everything, the staff that was trained for that, I had to go back to PATH,” she said, referring to the intake center in the Bronx for all families.
Stringer called for the city and state expand the 180-day limit, expand the capacity of domestic violence shelters, and increase financial assistance to survivors so they can transition to permanent housing faster.
Avery Cohen, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio, said they added 300 emergency beds to the city’s domestic violence shelter system.
“We will review the report to ensure we are doing everything we can to make our city safe for everyone at all times,” she said.