The number of homeless families with children entering New York City shelters hit a record high last month, climbing more than 40 percent from the same period last year, according to figures released on Monday by the Department of Homeless Services.
The total number of homeless families living in the municipal shelter system at the end of last month also hit a record high of 9,720, the highest number since the city began reporting such data more than 25 years ago, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy group that analyzed the city's monthly report on homeless services. The coalition and city officials attributed the increase to the recession. In November, 1,343 families were accepted into the shelter system, about 43 percent more than the 935 who moved into shelters in November of last year, according to data released by the department and by advocates for the homeless who analyzed city statistics.
The trend began before November. Comparisons between the fiscal years that ended on June 30, 2007, and June 30, 2008, show a 40 percent increase in homeless families and a 29 percent increase in adults who sought the refuge of the shelter system.
The Department of Homeless Services reported that 9,442 homeless families were living in the municipal shelter system on the final day of November. The coalition's figure of 9,720 includes the homeless who are living in shelters provided by the housing department and Homeless Services.
The number of homeless people living in the city's shelters has continued to climb well into the Bloomberg administration's five-year plan, announced in 2004, to cut homelessness by two-thirds.
Robert V. Hess, the commissioner of homeless services, said in a prepared statement released on Monday night that the rising number of people accommodated by the system showed its strength.
"The fact that D.H.S.'s system is withstanding the test of recent high demand through difficult economic times and harsh weather conditions is evidence that the agency has successfully reformed our infrastructure and put a solid groundwork in place," Mr. Hess said in the statement.
The city's dire financial straits have contributed to the rise in homelessness, according to a spokesman for the Coalition for the Homeless, who added that the issue could be compounded by "draconian" cuts proposed by Gov. David A. Paterson in city funds for homeless prevention.
"The recession in New York is unfortunately just beginning, but already we have surpassed the all-time record high of family homelessness in New York City," Mary Brosnahan, the executive director of the coalition, said in a statement.
The statement said that in each of the last five months, the numbers of new homeless families entering the shelter system have been the highest since the city started collecting data on the system.