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Can New York City end homelessness by 2020?
Homelessness in America's most populous city has reached an all-time high. Advocates say their directives could eliminate the problem permanently in five years. - photo by Lane Anderson
The biggest city in America is known for bright lights and big money, but it's also known for a problem that takes a little sheen off the Big Apple homelessness.

With 60,000 living in shelters, including 25,000 children, New York has reached its highest number of homeless people ever. But a coalition of advocate groups, called Homes for Every New Yorker, released a new report last week to Mayor Bill de Blasio that they say would eliminate homelessness permanently in just five years.

Most of the nine directives are aimed at providing affordable housing something that has increasingly disappeared in the city as market rents have climbed and wages have stagnated.

Its appalling and shocking that one-third of all homeless families in the New York City shelter system tonight are working, some of them two jobs, and yet they cannot afford market-rate rents, Patrick Marquis of the Coalition for the Homeless told CBS New York. If they were earning a $15 minimum wage, many of them would be able to escape homelessness.

Public advocate Letitia James joined de Blasio and a 12-year-old homeless girl on inauguration day in 2013, According to CBS2, de Blasio promised to help children like her. Since then, the shelters have reached maximum capacity, and the number of children in them has soared.

Homelessness in our subway system is at record levels, youve got homeless in our malls, streets, all over. Shanty towns, individuals in trailer parks, we have a problem, James told CBS2.

But the good news is that both the city and state budgets are in surplus, so advocates are hopeful that now is the time to take action to end the problem. The nine strategies they recommend include setting aside 10 percent of all new city-assisted housing for homeless New Yorkers, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding rental assistance to people living with HIV, and enhancing city-state rent subsidies to prevent homelessness and rehouse the homeless.

Jennifer Flynn, executive director of VOCAL-NY an advocacy group behind the report said the strategies could present real solutions if taken seriously by policymakers.

The point is to get a real, deep commitment to ending homelessness, she told New York Daily News. "Its not an entrenched problem. We think theres people in [the mayor's] administration that recognize this.

In a plan to address affordable housing, the mayor's office noted that more than half of rental households in New York were "rent burdened" in 2012, meaning that more than 30 percent of household income went to rent. The mayor also pointed out that NYC rents rose by 11 percent between 2005 and 2012, while incomes flattened.

Ending homelessness in America's biggest city is a big undertaking, said Brooklyn City Councilman Stephen Levin. But it's not impossible.

It would take a lot of resources," Levin told the Daily News. "But this is solvable.
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