showed that diverting families back to double-ups did not work, except temporarily when families applying to the system for the first time accepted a modest food allowance as an incentive to remain doubled-up for one or two weeks longer before entering city shelters. The city also failed to comply with the law that families be placed in shelters by at least 8:00 A.M. the day after they applied and in the same neighborhoods where they had lived before so as not to disrupt their personal networks and school, work, and clinic schedules.
Recommendation 1. The U.S. government should support the United Nations effort to recognize housing as a basic human right.
Recommendation 2. Federal and state governments should adjust public assistance payments to the Consumer Price Index, as with other forms of entitled income. This recommendation arises from the finding of this study that most homeless, doubled-up families were subsisting on a basic public assistance grant for food and all expenses other than rent and medical costs, a grant that had increased only 56 percent between 1969 and 1991. This modest increase could not keep pace with the almost 300 percent rise in the Consumer Price Index for the New York metropolitan region during the same time period. In addition, the public assistance shelter allowance was only half the amount needed to rent an apartment in the very expensive private market in New York City.
Recommendation 3. Federal and state governments should better fulfill their responsibility to oversee the administration of local public assistance programs, and local administrators should provide families with all the entitlements for which they are legally eligible. Findings from this study show that almost half of the doubled-up guest units did not receive the correct basic public assistance grants, food stamps, or shelter allowances. Almost all of them gave some money to their host units for rent, often more than half the monthly amounts these units paid to their landlords. In return, many did not even have their own room in the double-up.
Recommendation 4. Homelessness prevention programs at all levels of government should recognize unstable, doubled-up living as a form of homelessness. Section 8 rent subsidies should be available to all who are eligible, and federal funding for the construction of new, subsidized, low-income housing should be restored to previous levels. This study supports these recommendations. Most of the families in this research had never had their own apartments, and more than half had stayed in two or more double-ups before applying to the city for emergency shelter.
Recommendation 5. Public health and housing authorities at all levels of government should evaluate the significance for family health and child development of the overcrowding and lack of privacy experienced by homeless families who live doubled-up. Findings from this study show that less than half the doubled-up families had a room of their own. The mates of more than half the doubled-up