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Ralph da Costa Nunez, PhD
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Dr. Nunez has served as President of the Institute For Children, Poverty & Homelessness since the organization's founding in 1990 and also is President and CEO of Homes for the Homeless, a leading social services agency. Prior to ICPH, he worked in New York City and State government. He has also held a faculty position at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs for the past 30 years. Dr. Nunez holds a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University.

Entries by Ralph da Costa Nunez, PhD

A 'Housing First' Solution Could Actually Stimulate Homelessness

(12) Comments | Posted May 25, 2016 | 11:33 AM

Recent weeks have brought devastating news for many of the shelters coping with a surge of homelessness in cities across the country: The federal funding they have relied on to house, feed, and care for some of the very neediest Americans is going away.


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Why Rapid Rehousing May Be Increasing Family Homelessness

(4) Comments | Posted April 11, 2016 | 5:56 PM

Tents cities are proliferating in Seattle and Los Angeles.

Shelters are overflowing in Madison, Wisconsin, and Asheville, North Carolina.

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, has declared a housing "state of emergency."

A coalition of 10 west coast mayors is pleading for...

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Why New York City's Homeless Family Policies Keep Failing

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2016 | 1:36 PM

Your eyes do not deceive you, the headlines do not exaggerate: homelessness is worse than ever in New York City.

On any given night, some 60,000 people reside in the city's shelter system -- a 40 percent increase in four years. That number includes 24,000 children. It does not include...

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The Nation's Pressure Gauge Is Rising on Family Homelessness

(0) Comments | Posted December 1, 2015 | 11:27 AM

There appears to be no end to the mounting pressures on America's poorest families in the areas of income, housing, and employment. They face stagnant wages, rising rents, and jobs that do not pay a livable wage. As such, it is no surprise that the latest stats from the U.S....

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Rapid Rehousing Is Not the Only Option for Families

(2) Comments | Posted September 3, 2015 | 6:01 PM

For more than a decade, policymakers and practitioners have waged a feisty debate over which strategy is most effective for rehousing homeless families: to deliver housing and support services while at an emergency shelter or in project-based transitional housing to address the reasons why a family became homeless, or to...

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The Cost of Not Investing in After-School Programs for Homeless Students

(1) Comments | Posted May 11, 2015 | 2:00 PM

There are nearly 80,000 homeless students who attend New York City public schools. While many do well and stay on track, many face the risk of a jeopardized academic future. For these students, remaining at grade level is challenging as constant upheaval and family trauma wreak havoc on...

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The Dollars and Sense of a Basic Education

(2) Comments | Posted March 25, 2015 | 7:00 PM

Half of all homeless parents in New York City shelters don't have a high school diploma. In essence, this means they can't read or write at a level required to get a decent job, permanently sentencing them to low-wage, dead-end jobs or, as is the case for many, no employment...

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Reject the Status Quo to Break the Cycle of Homelessness

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 10:46 AM

New York City faces a persistent conundrum: How can the city help homeless families out of shelters and into secure, stable housing -- and prevent their return to the shelter system?

Put bluntly, how can New York do what is both morally and fiscally right, and break the toxic...

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When It Comes to Homeless Students, Should the Sky Be the Limit?

(3) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 11:00 AM

The recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education on the increase in the number of homeless students in the United States are sad, but not surprising. Family homelessness has been climbing steadily for decades. School Year (SY) 2012-13 saw 1.3 million homeless students. That is an...

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Two Cities, Two Students: One Future?

(1) Comments | Posted July 8, 2014 | 11:01 AM

New York City has many tales to tell. One is familiar -- Mayor de Blasio's "Tale of Two Cities" --but the other is not: the Tale of Two Students, the housed and the homeless. In a city of have-a-lots and have-nots, what does it mean when some students have homes...

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Failure at the Finish Line: How the Bloomberg Administration Increased Family Homelessness

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 3:32 PM

As the Bloomberg administration comes to an end, it leaves behind a disappointing legacy in the area of family homelessness. When Bloomberg came into office there were almost 7,000 families and over 13,000 children living in New York City's homeless shelters. As he leaves, 12 years later, there...

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When the Right to Shelter Isn't Quite Right

(2) Comments | Posted July 24, 2013 | 1:42 PM

Today there are nearly 49,000 homeless people in NYC, including almost 12,000 families and 21,000 children. Those who oppose any change to the city's "right-to-shelter" policy argue that it must stay in place to protect our most vulnerable population. Others (some of whom are candidates for mayor this...

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The Story of the Low-income Housing Shortage in America

(16) Comments | Posted November 6, 2012 | 4:20 PM

The last time the number of low-income rental units exceeded the number of low-income renters was 1970 (see chart, below). A recent brief by the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, "A Home by Any Other Name: Enhancing Shelters Address the Gap in Low-income Housing," reports that by...

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A Fair and Practical Right to Shelter

(4) Comments | Posted August 22, 2012 | 11:58 AM

It has been almost 30 years since New York City established the right to shelter for homeless families. While this right was decreed to guarantee that no New York City family would be left to fend for themselves on the street, it has now become a national and, in some...

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America's Contemporary Depression

(87) Comments | Posted July 30, 2012 | 10:51 AM

Indisputably, the American economy is ailing and its citizens are suffering. Beginning with the 2007 recession, most Americans have become increasingly familiar with financial uncertainty, disappointment, and frustration while politicians of both parties have grown adept at packaging blame into sound bites. All but a few insiders and pundits are...

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Pittsburgh: A Model for Addressing Child Homelessness

(1) Comments | Posted May 15, 2012 | 12:06 PM

I recently returned from Pittsburgh, where on Friday, May 4, I keynoted the Homeless Children's Education Fund's "Summit III: Impact of Poverty on Learning & Brain Development for Children & Youth Experiencing Homelessness."

HCEF brought together individuals on the front lines at shelters and school systems, those...

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Homelessness a Racial Matter: Why Are Black Families Over-represented in Homeless Shelters?

(1) Comments | Posted March 14, 2012 | 5:23 PM

When U.S. attorney general Eric Holder described the United States as a "nation of cowards" when it comes to openly discussing race, he was lambasted. But he was absolutely right. And one area where race has long been an issue spoken about in hushed tones is the...

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Notched-down Generation

(0) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 3:26 PM

At a time when nearly 50 percent of Americans are either low-income or poor, members of the middle class are at risk of joining their ranks. The gradual erosion of household incomes, and decreased quality of life that many Americans have been experiencing over the past few decades,...

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As America Honors Its Heroes, We Can Do More for Homeless Women Veterans

(1) Comments | Posted November 11, 2011 | 5:12 PM

On this Veterans Day, as we take pause to remember the veterans who so bravely served our country it's imperative that we not overlook homeless women veterans and their families.

While women represented only 8 percent of all sheltered homeless veterans in 2010, that statistic masks the...

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For Homeless Students, Transitional Shelters Must Be Used as a Tool, Not a Roadblock

(0) Comments | Posted November 9, 2011 | 5:58 PM

Homeless families currently spend an average of 11 months in New York City's transitional shelters, longer than the length of a school year. This is time they will never get back. But in part because of bureaucratic roadblocks, New York City has not been able to fulfill its...

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