Housing is not the problem, it’s housing stability

by | Jan 27, 2020 | News

The image that comes to mind when picturing what homelessness looks like usually doesn’t include a child. However, according to a 2018 report by Advocates for Children of New York, there are more than 114,000 homeless children in NYC alone. That’s means 1 out of 10 students attending public schools are homeless. Of the 114,000 homeless students, about ⅔ are “doubling up,” meaning they live with friends or family and ⅓ live in shelters and temporary housing.

The population of homeless students in NYC has increased drastically in the past decade, up from just under 70,000 students in 2010. While child homelessness is particularly concerning here in New York, this population is also growing nationwide. Last week, hundreds of passionate people from all over the country gathered for the 2020 Beyond Housing Conference, hosted by the Institute for Child Poverty and Homelessness (ICPH). DMF Youth staff was excited to join all of the other participating non-profit workers, government employees, and social workers in a national conversation on child poverty and homelessness.

So, what exactly do we mean by “beyond housing?” We’re saying that housing is just a small factor of homelessness. At the conference, we shared ideas on how to make sure all needs of families experiencing homelessness are met. This includes everything from job training, to mental health resources, community networks, safe transportation options for getting kids to school, and so much more.


Day 1

DMF Youth founder and Executive Director Lindi Duesenberg hosted a workshop where she introduced DMF Youth programming to conference attendees. She turned a hotel conference room into a dance studio and got everyone up and moving around, just like we do during DMF Youth programming. Lindi engaged participants in conversation about Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how this model is incorporated in DMF Youth curriculum.


Day 2

We heard from Ralph da Costa Nunez, President and CEO of the ICPH. Dr. Nunez welcomed 800+ guests with a speech exploring the history of homelessness in New York City over the past 40 years. Here are some key take-aways:

  • The current system in place acts as a revolving door and fails to help families become independent
  • Reducing the homeless population is not about providing housing, it’s about housing stability
  • We should move towards replacing shelters with community residences, where families can build networks of support\


Day 3

The day opened with a panel from Sesame Street in Communities. This branch of Sesame Street provides resources, activities, and workshops that help providers have effective and appropriate conversations with children experiencing homelessness. They also brought a very special guest with them… Cookie Monster! Seeing the huge line of adults waiting to take pictures with Cookie Monster was oh so wholesome.


Learn more

To learn more about child poverty and homelessness, we encourage you to explore the resources linked throughout this post. For more information on DMF Youth and our programs, check out our homepage and contact us for more information.


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