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Compassion, Concern and Conflicted Feelings: New Yorkers on Homelessness and Housing

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Eight in 10 New Yorkers say homelessness is a major problem both locally and nationally. An overwhelming majority considers shelter to be a basic human right, and two-thirds say people are homeless because of circumstances beyond their control. Affordable housing is named as the chief concern facing New York City, and more than one-third say they feel personally vulnerable to becoming homeless. But New Yorkers believe in personal responsibility and support social service benefita "with strings attached." The public strongly supports preventive programs in the areas of mental health care, substance abuse treatment, housing, and education, even though only a slight majority believes that homelessness can ever be eliminated.