5 Challenges NYC Youth Are Facing

Operation Exodus

Living in the most populated city in the United States alongside 8.5 million people brings with it a unique set of challenges. This is especially true for children and youth who grow up calling this place home. Here are just a few of the struggles our New York City children face each and every day:


1. High rates of poverty.

There are more than 1.7 million children living in New York City, and 30 percent of them live in poverty. That’s more than 500,000 children living below the poverty line. Relatedly, some 400,000 New York City children live in a home that lacks access to healthy, affordable food.


2. Increased vulnerability to homelessness.

High rates of poverty and a lack of affordable housing means that youth in New York City are vulnerable to homelessness. More than 41,000 children in our city slept in homeless shelters last year. Even more students face uncertain living arrangements, with nearly 50,000 living in “doubled up” housing and more than 82,000 students living in temporary housing during the 2013-14 school year.


3. Overcrowded schools.

The number of New York City students who attend school in an overcrowded building hit a seven-year high in 2013-14. The total number of “overcrowded” buildings shrank from 565 to 523, which means students are flocking to the most cramped buildings. Additionally, class sizes continue to increase in nearly every grade.


4. High youth unemployment.

There are 170,000 young adults in New York City between the ages of 16 and 24 who are neither in school nor working. That means one in seven are considered “disconnected youth.”


5. Lack of supervision after school.

More than one in five New York City children go home alone after school each day, left unattended due to parent/guardian work schedules. The hours between 3pm and 6pm are critical hours for children and youth in our city, and if students do not participate in an after-school program, they may fall victim to negative influences.


But we are not without hope. Living in a place like New York City also comes with a unique set of opportunities—particularly when the right support is provided. That’s why we are so grateful for our affiliates, like A House on Beekman, Operation Exodus, and Young Life, who are on the ground working to provide opportunities and alleviate the issues our city’s children and youth face. 


Looking to get involved? Visit hfny.org/servenyckids for opportunities to serve our city's children and youth.


Photo by Patrick Kolts