Homelessness is an epidemic that’s affected New Yorkers of all stripes, with homeless numbers at the highest they’ve been since the Great Depression, but single mothers and their children may be hit the hardest. According to City Councilmember Letitia James, “In April 2012, there were an all-time record 43,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families with 17,200 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise nearly three-quarters of the homeless shelter population.” Data suggests that three-quarters of homeless families are headed by single mothers, according to Forbes.

In 2009, the city stopped processing new applications for Section 8 housing, which provides government-assisted housing at no more than 30 percent of a family’s income, and which is championed by experts like Roman as being a stabilizing force for struggling families. And last year, the Bloomberg administration cut funding to the Advantage program, which partially subsidized housing for families coming out of homeless shelters.

“People are paying way too much for rent and [that] keeps them unstable and [they] cycle in and out of homelessness,” said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “What is the sense in letting [a mother] take an apartment she can’t afford and then go back to the shelter system, especially given how much it costs to keep her in the shelter system?”

(Photo: Euran Slorach/Flickr)