New Yorkers support helping homeless

Most New Yorkers believe the very existence of homelessness is evidence the U.S. is falling short of its ideals, and more than four in five are willing to have their tax dollars used to pay for housing, a new report says.

At the same time, slightly more than four in 10 people surveyed believe homelessness never will be fully eradicated, says “Compassion, Concern and Conflicted Feelings,” a study conducted by Public Agenda.

Nine in 10 people surveyed say all people have a basic right to shelter, the study says, and a similar number believe the high cost of housing is an important cause of homelessness.

More than six in 10 believe public spending for the homeless should increase, and more almost nine in 10 are in favor of supportive housing, in which medical and other social services are provided on-site for residents.

More than four in five respondents support subsidizing rental payments for low-income people to live in standard apartments, the study says, and more than nine in 10 say the government should subsidize the construction of affordable housing.

While two in three New Yorkers say people are homeless because of forces beyond their control, virtually all say benefits for homeless people should be contingent on involvement in activities like training and substance-abuse treatment.

But there is no consensus on who should deliver housing and services to the homeless.

Only slightly more than one in five people have confidence in nonprofits as the service delivery system, the study says, and even fewer believe business and city agencies are up to the task.

The study involved a series of focus groups and phone interviews with people living in New York’s five burroughs.

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