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59,698: New York Breaks City’s Homelessness Record

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A somber record was broken after it was recorded that 59,698 people slept in New York City homeless shelters on a single night.

Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks told Fox 5 NYC, "The most pressing problem is to keep a roof over people's heads and get people out of the shelter system and into housing." 

Banks has been the focus of recent criticism over his call to turn a hotel in Maspeth, Queens, into a shelter. He says that the recent record-breaking numbers show that an extreme solution is needed for an extreme problem.

"It's a problem that didn't happen overnight and is not going to be solved overnight," he said. "We have to keep focusing on making sure people have a roof over their heads every night. It's a legal requirement in New York City but it's also a moral obligation to make sure our fellow New Yorkers don't end up on the streets." 

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Banks claims that 400,000 units of affordable housing have disappeared in New York, and that homelessness has increased 115 percent.

According to RentJungle, the average rent on a New York City apartment is $3,253. Minimum wage in the city is $10.50 an hour. People are forced to live in packed housing as "ghost tenants," who are not named on the lease. 

Five months ago city mayor Bill de Blasio initiated a city administration plan focusing on front-end investments, including a $62-million allotment for eviction services legal assistance. There will also be financial assistance to bridge the rent gap.

Banks said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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