More working families turn to homeless shelters in NYC

More working families turn to homeless shelters in NYC

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The biggest growth in the number of homeless New Yorkers in the shelter system is from working parents who just can't afford skyrocketing rents. They have few, if any, alternatives.

Peggy Jenkins and her daughter, Shakeima, 16, have been living in a shelter in the East New York section of Brooklyn for nearly four years. Jenkins worked as a critical care home attendant and had an apartment in public housing. She felt she had no choice but to leave everything behind after deadly gun violence came too close to home; her son's best friend was shot.

Shakeima is a high school sophomore who hopes to go to college and work in a high-tech field. She gets depressed sometimes because shelter rules forbid her from going on sleepovers at friends' homes or having friends visit. But she keeps her head up.

Jenkins told me she has submitted 22 applications for housing, and can't work because of a shelter curfew, and rules that require her to be with Shakeima at all times. Not having her independence is taking a toll, but she's not giving up. She said she tells Shakeima that things will be better one day.

A representative for the city's Department of Homeless Services told me there is a pass system for shelter residents who work so that they can be excused from curfew.

But a spokesperson from the Coalition for the Homeless said the system is not as easy as it sounds.

DHS is in the process of reviewing its policies under the new administration.

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