America needs a bold new housing policy as growing numbers of Americans sleep in shelters, surf friends' couches and camp in their cars.
Throughout the country, homelessness is rising, with ever more families in ever more towns and cities sleeping in shelters, surfing friends' couches and camping in their cars. In the video, Patrick Markee and Lizzie Ratner report from a New York intake clinic for homeless families in the Bronx. In San Bernardino, California, for instance, the City Unified School District counted roughly one-third more homeless students in the 2007-08 school year than in the previous one, part of a stomach-churning trend that has pushed the number of homeless students in the state past 224,000, according to local officials. In Boston the number of families without homes shot up 22 percent, from 3,175 in December 2007 to 3,870 in December 2008. And in New York City, which shelters an astonishing 36,000 homeless people each night (including nearly 16,000 kids), the number of newly homeless families entering the shelter system hit an all-time high in autumn, with the influx in November 44 percent higher than the previous year. Along the way, the total number of homeless families bedding down each night in shelters topped 9,700--the highest number since the city began keeping records more than twenty-five years ago.