Homeless Problem Plagues Cities Asking Obama For More Refugees

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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Many of the 18 Democratic mayors asking President Barack Obama to send more Syrian refugees to their cities are facing homeless crises.

New federal data, The Washington Post reports, reveals that the number of homeless children in the U.S. has doubled since the recession.

According to the Post, this is an 8 percent increase in the homeless count over the 2012-2013 school year. But that increase is not stopping some mayors from asking the president to send refugees to their cities.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called for more Syrian refugees after initially saying the refugee issue was a “European problem.”

By mid-2017, New York will spend $60 million a year on a larger legal team to deal with the already stressed shelter system as a result of the flood of homeless into the city, The Wall Street Journal reports.

City Hall announced it would spend $1 billion more over the next four years focusing on the homeless issue. As of now, 40,000 are reportedly homeless.

The city of Syracuse is also willing to accept Syrian refugees, but it too has a growing homeless population.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has called for more refugees in her city as well. But the problem of homelessness flared up there last June, when a group of homeless residents were forced out of an encampment under the U.S. 40 overpass at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in West Baltimore.

Christina Flowers, president of Assisted Living Inc., told The Baltimore Sun that she planned to protest any more city razing of future encampments because the homeless shelters around the city were full.

“Where is the housing?” she asked.

According to the Sun, there are 2,500 to 4,000 homeless people in Baltimore.

The homeless population spiked 25 percent in Boston this year. Lisa Conley, a lawyer with the Boston Public Health Commission, told The Boston Globe, “Family homelessness has increased across Massachusetts, with much of the increase here reflecting additional family shelter units contracted by the state in an effort to reduce the use of motels as emergency shelter overflow.”

Chicago, another city willing to take in more refugees, has an estimated 140,000 homeless people, ABC 7 News reported in July. Many of the individuals are living in shelters, tents or parks.

The Obama administration announced last week it would donate an additional $419 million in humanitarian and refugee aid to those affected by the conflict in Syria. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. funding for Syrian humanitarian aid is up to $4.5 billion. The announcement came on the heels of Secretary of State John Kerry stating that 85,000 refugees would be arriving by the end of 2016 and 100,000 by the end of 2017.

It is unclear how much, if any, federal money each city would receive as recipients of refugees. However, each refugee can receive thousands of dollars of federal money, as well as assistance through social programs for many years.