Invisible Child

The New York Times

December 9, 2013


Children are not the face of New York’s homeless. They rarely figure among the panhandlers and bag ladies, war vets and untreated schizophrenics who have long been stock characters in this city of contrasts. Their homelessness is hidden. They spend their days in school, their nights in shelters. They are seen only in glimpses — pulling overstuffed suitcases in the shadow of a tired parent, passing for tourists rather than residents without a home. Their numbers have risen above anything in the city’s modern history, to a staggering 22,091 this month. If all of the city’s homeless children were to file into Madison Square Garden for a hockey game, more than 4,800 would not have a seat. Yet it is the adult population that drives debates on poverty and homelessness, with city officials and others citing “personal responsibility” as the central culprit. Children are bystanders in this discourse, no more to blame for their homelessness than for their existence.
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