New York City, NY

Child Homelessness in New York City: Causes, Health Problems and Ways To Help

The Virtuous Vee

The nation’s economic crisis has deeply affected the lives of millions of Americans. Today, more New Yorkers are experiencing homelessness than ever before. In a city of more than 8.3 million people, nearly one in every 106 New Yorkers is homeless — that's nearly 80,000 men, women and children. Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: The United States has the highest child poverty rate of any developed nation except for Romania. Children make up a large part of this population—in total there are more than 22,000 homeless children in New York.
Child Homelessness.Lucas Metz/Unsplash


Causes of homelessness among youth fall into three inter-related categories: family problems, economic problems, and residential instability. Many homeless youth leave home after years of physical and sexual abuse, strained relationships, addiction of a family member and parental neglect.

Health Problems

Homelessness is linked to poor physical health for children including low birth weight, malnutrition, ear infections, exposure to environmental toxins and chronic illness (e.g., asthma). Homeless children also are less likely to have adequate access to medical and dental care. They are significantly more likely than the general population, or comparison children in stable housing to have delayed development, learning difficulties and higher rates of mental health problems (behavioural problems such as sleep disturbance, eating problems, aggression, and overactivity).
Doctor.Ashkan Forouzani/Unsplash

Most commonly cited illnesses affecting homeless children in New York City:

  • Respiratory issues: asthma, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic cough
  • Infectious diseases: STI and HIV/AIDS
  • Dermatology diseases: cabies and head lice infestation, dermatitis, and abrasions
  • Malnutrition issues: childhood obesity, iron deficiency anemia, and stunted growth
  • Poor Dental Health
  • Poor Ocular Health

3 Simple ways to help the homeless in NYC

Donate money

Perhaps the easiest way to support the effort to end homelessness is through monetary donations. There are many organizations like Breaking Ground, Picture the Homeless, Ali Forney Center that accept donations through their websites. For more non-profits that help the homeless check out this Time Out Article.

Donate goods

For opportunities to donate goods or participate in drives, look no further than Coalition for the Homeless. The organization also runs a program every single night, in which a fleet of vans deliver meals to approximately 1,000 people at 23 different sites around the city.


Sometimes donating your time to these people can be just as helpful. Get to know them, listen to what they have to say, their stories and their words of wisdom.
In lifting others we rise.Joel Muniz/Unsplash

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