The Four Most Useful Apps For Real Estate Agents

As a real estate agent, staying organized can sometimes be extremely difficult. With multiple clients and lots of documents to keep track of it can all get overwhelming very quickly. Luckily, today we have technology that can help us stay organized and make our life easier.

DocuSign

Having a countless number of papers and constantly needing other people’s signatures can be a nuisance. With Docusign, you can access all of your documents in a secure location on any device. It is a fast, simple and secure way to upload documents and send them to a specific recipient. If you need someone to sign the document, you can highlight the required fields they need to fill out. Then, with either your mouse or finger, you can add your actual signature to the document. It is also extremely easy to keep track of all of your documents. If you receive a new document you get an email notification, everyone who has access to the document is alerted when it is finished being filled out and signed by all parties, and all documents are saved electronically for your records. DocuSign works with other apps that you might already use such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, and many more.

Vert

Real Estate agents deal with a lot of different metrics such as size, weight, volume, length, and even sometimes currency. Vert is an all-in-one converter that makes calculations simple and quick. It has every single unit that you will ever need pre-loaded into the app. Its user-friendly interface makes it simple to accurately calculate any conversion in a matter of seconds.

Dropbox

With Dropbox you can store documents, pictures, videos, etc. in the cloud and access them anywhere. Since it works on basically every device you will never forget a document at home or in the office again. The simple interface allows you to create folders so that all of your documents are in order. Additionally, you are able to share anything in your Dropbox with other people. Instead of trying to find a file on your phone in an email that you can’t locate, you can simply open up Dropbox and find everything to be extremely organized. The app is free for up to 2GB, but they do have premium plans available for purchase.

Cam Scanner

Instead of running to your office or panicky asking a coworker for help if you forgot to scan a file, you can use Cam Scanner to scan documents directly from your mobile device. The scan from your mobile device even looks like a real scan. In addition to scanning documents on the go, you can also store and organize documents on the app.

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Five Types of New York City Real Estate You Should Buy Today

Highly transparent and under-leveraged, the New York real estate market is one of the most stable in the world. If you are looking to make a savvy investment, now is a great time to beat rising property values—which are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent over the next three years—to secure real estate that will generate returns for years to come.

Traditionally, investors looked for opportunities in the affluent suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but growth in those areas has become stagnate. But today, we look to Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hudson County, which are areas that are growing rapidly thanks to new job opportunities, especially in healthcare.

Healthcare jobs are growing by five percent per year—twice as fast as finance, the region’s primary economic and population driver—and account for 84 percent of New York City’s total population growth between 2015 and 2016. The rapid growth has increased New York’s population to a record high of 8,550,405 and shows no signs of slowing.

Here are the five most promising investment opportunities in the New York real estate sector to keep up with growth and changing demographics.

1. Apartment Buildings

As high home prices continue to rise and the city’s population continues to grow, a majority of New York residents are being driven into apartment building rentals located in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Hudson County. Therefore, apartment buildings purchased at the right price today can be a very lucrative investment.

Moreover, high proportions of immigrants—40 percent in Hudson County and Brooklyn and 50 percent in Queens—create a large spread of incomes that create all kinds of opportunities for purchasing apartment buildings that cater to different income brackets.

2. Single-family Homes to be converted into Multiple Units

Because home prices are high compared to rents, pure single-family rentals are not likely to be lucrative investments, unless you’re looking to invest in a special area or are driven by other special circumstances. However, the high home prices that are driving people into renting can be lucrative if you’re able to purchase and refashion a single-family home into one featuring multiple units.

3. Retail Stores

Recent population increases in Brooklyn, and especially in Queens, have not been matched by the availability of new stores. In addition, the Bronx is underserved by new stores. Because healthcare jobs are growing and generating lower-, middle-, and higher-tier income across the city, retail stores are a reasonably safe investment.

4. Office Buildings

The same healthcare sector growth that is creating a need for new apartment buildings and stores, is also generating the need for new office space. Although millions of square feet of new office space are already under construction in Queens and Brooklyn, there is presently no indication that demand in those boroughs will slow even as the new planned office towers take shape. In fact, the office booms in these boroughs signal a healthy long-term future for New York’s overall economy.

Office space in Manhattan may also be a good investment, as Manhattan is still the center of the New York office world. Although 20 million additional square feet of office space are being constructed in Manhattan and are expected to be available by 2021, the number of new offices is insufficient to meet the demand from a booming economy. Nevertheless, reports have not accounted for additional space that is to be provided by new World Trade Center Towers, and the future absorption rate for new office space is unclear.

5. Mortgages and Construction Loans

Rising home prices will keep equity rising, too, making mortgages a sound investment. Although there is always some risk of default, that risk is just about average right now because rising home prices are in balance with incomes.

Alternatively, but in the same vein, construction loans will also go up with only an average risk of default, making them another prudent investment. Ingo Winzer, contributor toForbes and president of Local Market Monitor—which has followed real estate dynamics since 1989 in over 300 communities—predicts 45,000 new houses and 70,000 apartments will be constructed in Queens over the next three years. Brooklyn will only see 40,000 new homes constructed, but 110,000 new apartments. The Bronx will likely experience modest new home construction but is expected to grow by 60,000 new apartments.

The idea that New York real estate is out-of-reach for those looking for sound investments may be closer to reach than many would think. The worst thing to do when thinking of buying real estate is to wait — especially in the ever-booming New York City.

A New Yorker’s Guide to Using Solar In Your Business

The energy source no longer is the wave of the future — it’s good for commerce today.

This post was originally featured on Entrepreneur.com

With a constant increase in demand for electric power and surging oil prices, it surprises me that more business owners aren’t excited about solar energy.

Solar power offers reduced operating costs and a higher return on investment than many other energy sources. Plus, it’s largely maintenance-free, super-reliable and good for the environment. What’s not to love? If you’re planning to integrate solar energy in your business this year, make sure you’re prepared to make the switch.

Financing options.

Putting up a solar project is a long-term investment — a truth I learned during my Atelier experience. I also honestly can say it’s been 100 percent worth it. The initial expense can be relatively high, which is why leasing would have been more favorable in the past. Setup costs have gone down significantly in the past few years, however, making solar far more affordable to the average homeowner or small-business owner.

Single-family homes account for most of New York City’s solar projects. It costs $20,000 to $50,000 to install a residential system, but a combination of city and state public programs can pick up as much as half the bill. Then there’s this: Solar-powered homes reportedly have cut monthly bills by up to 85 percent, compared to previous monthly bills. If that’s not reason enough to front the startup costs, estimates reveal solar energy’s ROI beats the stock market in more 25 states, including New York.

Installation timeline.

Ideally, the entire process shouldn’t take more than eight weeks from start to finish. However, many factors at play could delay the timeline.

A few years ago, the permit-approval process alone could take up to two years. Today, there’s better coordination among government, installers, owners and utilities. New York City’s Department of Buildings now can issue permits in a matter of a few days. It’s a welcome change from the weeks (at best) that earlier applicants waited for a decision.

Signing the paperwork officially gives your installation team the go-ahead. It’s an easy step that should take 24 hours at most — if you have the capital in hand. If you need to secure an improvement loan from a bank or other lender, you’ll wait longer.

Next, your team’s engineers gather site-specific data and create a design for your system upgrade. By now, you’re firmly into week three. Simple designs might take just a week, but owners would be wise to budget roughly three weeks for complex or large solar arrays.

Once you approve the design, you’ll need to submit a permit and wait for the Department of Buildings to greenlight your application. Things move quickly after you get the thumbs-up: You’re now clear to schedule the installation and then await inspection from the utilities department — typically a week or two after installation. The utility company changes the meter, and you’re good to go.

NYC’s permitting process.

Before you install solar panels, you’ll have to go through the City of New York’s permitting process, which begins when you file a permit. You can file this request under a New Building or Alteration permit. You also have the option to file separately as an Alteration Type-2 at borough offices or The HUB itself. The Department of Buildings will inspect the premises and use that information to help make a determination about your application’s future.

Local and state incentives.

Through NY-Sun, the State of New York offers a range of incentives to build a more affordable and sustainable solar industry in New York City. The program offers loan financing for residential, small-commercial and commercial projects. The terms vary depending on the type of borrower. Residential and small-commercial customers can finance up to $25,000 with a repayment period as long as 15 years. Commercial borrowers may finance up to 100 percent of any-sized solar projects and secure an interest rate in the range of 4 percent to 6.5 percent. As an added motivation to participate, NY-Sun also extends reduced installation costs to borrowers across all three categories.

Net-energy metering.

Net energy is the difference between the energy produced and the energy consumed. Many households use less than solar panels produce. Excess energy is pushed back into the grid. The net-metering structure credits the owner for this power returned to the overall system. As an owner, you can use the offset to cover future bills, though you’ll still need to pay the monthly connection charge for the service of using the utility’s grid.

There’s no denying the decision to switch to a solar system can be tough. Even with government support, the one-time setup fee might be too steep for some. But solar undoubtedly is taking over. New York City experienced a surge in installations during 2016. That’s on top of the substantial increase over the preceding years, when residential and commercial installationsdoubled between 2014 and 2016.

The earlier you get on board with solar, the greater benefits you’ll enjoy over the long term.

 

The Cost of ‘Sheltering’ The Homeless May Be Too High

A question I hear a lot when I’m talking about homelessness in New York, is: “why don’t the homeless just stay in shelters?” It is more complex than many New Yorkers imagine–both the problems and the purported solutions. For me, the more important question is: ‘why shelters at all?’

As someone who has spent a lot of time with the homeless–as a volunteer EMT and as someone who lived on the streets for 3 nights–I know firsthand how we have failed our homeless population. Providing shelters, both private and public, may seem like a solution for those who aren’t homeless, but for those who are, there are systemic problems. I agree with them, and here’s why:

  1. Shelters are expensive
  2. Shelters are unsafe
  3. Shelters often provide unfit living conditions
  4. Shelters have not been proven to work long-term

According to a Mayor’s Management Report, housing one homeless person as of last summer was nearly $100 a day. But aside from the monetary cost to New York taxpayers, there also exists the very real life-threatening dangers that face shelter dwellers. Because of these reasons, many homeless families choose the streets over shelters.

In 2015, incidents officially labeled as “violent” included 153 assaults, 65 cases of child abuse, 174 domestic violence incidents, and 90 allegations of sexual assault involving residents.

It’s no better in “cluster” shelters (private apartments and hotels converted to house the homeless) either. Though cluster shelters may have fewer incidences of violence, they’re often rat-infested, poorly managed (if managed at all), and lacking in basic accommodations like clean water. Because these shelters are privately-owned and exempt from fines, the incentive to address safety and health violations are lost on the owners and the city. Cluster landlords are not contractually bound to follow DHS’ lead. So, the residents have no recourse.

The conditions are so bad that Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned the Department of Investigation (DOI) to investigate. The DOI spent four months inspecting 25 homeless shelters across the city, interviewed occupants and landlords, and evaluated the sites based on cleanliness, management, and integrity.

In the five clusters investigated across multiple boroughs including Queens and Brooklyn, the DOI found a total of 223 violations from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), Department of Buildings (DOB), and Department of Housing Preservation and Development since 2012. Hotel cluster shelter facilities didn’t fare any better with 168 violations.

According to the DOI findings, “At its worst, DHS is turning a blind eye to violations that threaten the lives of shelter residents.”

These findings are no doubt a reason for de Blasio’s recent commitment to phase out ‘cluster sites’ and add 90 new shelters in New York City. Sure, this move from expensive and unfit hotels and apartment shelters shows a willingness to solve the homeless housing issue, but I’m not convinced this is a move in the right direction.

In the mayor’s speech on the matter, he estimated that creating 90 more shelters in NYC would cost $300 million over the next five years, but critics have put the figure at closer to $500 million, and that doesn’t include operating and staffing costs.

According to de Blasio, alleviating the homeless problem is a marathon, not a sprint. Patience is the key, “We will make progress, but it will be incremental. It will be slow,” he said. “I’m not going to lie to the people of New York City that we have an end in sight.”

But is the end really in sight? Maybe not the way we’ve been doing it. I suspect that the path to housing the homeless is the one less traveled: get them off the street by giving them a means to support themselves.

  1. Subsidized housing–Provide the homeless a pathway to sheltering themselves
  2. Job training — Training, whether in a trade or resume-building, to provide a pathway for them to support themselves
  3. Food stamps

In my experience, people who are homeless aren’t living on the streets because they chose to do so. Usually, they hit some bad times and ended up there. In fact, New Yorkers are roughly one paycheck away from being homeless because of loss of a job or some sort of injury. They want to work, they want housing, and they want to support themselves in order to get it. We should give them the means to do that. With the money we’re about to pour into building more shelters — something that has been proven not to work — there is an opportunity to enact a system that may work. And 2017 is as good a year as any to start investing in our homeless fellows.

This article was originally published on DanNeiditch.org

The Transcript For An Interview I Had With IdeaMensch

More than anything, being consistent and even-keeled makes people trust you. No one trusts someone who’s always changing his mind.

Dan Neiditch is the president of River 2 River Realty, Inc., a real estate business that offers diverse real estate services for customers in New York and beyond. Neiditch learned the industry through his real estate family business and has gone on to procure, develop, and revitalize real estate developments on a much larger scale than his family ever thought possible.

Under Dan Neiditch’s stewardship, his family’s business has grown into a multibillion dollar real estate empire — acquiring $1 billion in real estate holdings to date. Today, River 2 River Realty is part of multiple prestigious organizations on both local and national levels. The Real Estate Board of New York, REBNY Listing Service, National Association of Realtors have all welcomed River 2 River Realty as a member. Dan uses these exciting memberships to help customers get access to the latest and greatest properties available in New York. The business’ ties with national organizations also helps sellers expand their outreach across the country.

Because Dan grew up surrounded by a real estate-savvy family, he and his family have amassed a total of 70 years of experience — which Dan Neiditch brings to customers who are overwhelmed or uninformed about the many aspects of the market.

Now, best known as president of the Atelier Condos in Manhattan (which boasts solar panels, the tallest swimming pool and tennis courts, and celebrity tenants), Dan Neiditch is an experienced leader in New York’s dynamic real estate market. Atelier is one of Daniel’s greatest accomplishments as a leader in real estate.

With his vision in mind for the redevelopment of the property located on West 42nd Street in New York City, Neiditch offers Atelier tenants an unbeatable view of the city. It overlooks the Hudson River to the west, and residents can see the iconic Empire State Building and Times Square from their homes.

Though attributed with an impressive business acumen, Dan is also passionate about charity work. Dan uses his experience in River 2 River Realty, Inc. to help those in need. A hands-on philanthropist, Dan Neiditchnot only donates funds to various organizations, he travels to disadvantaged countries abroad, and volunteers as an on-call EMT locally in New York City.

Dan devotes a lot of his philanthropic efforts to funding the basic medical and personal care that every child deserves. He provides financial donations to children who need lifesaving organ transplant surgeries. One of Dan’s most fulfilling experiences was traveling to Africa with an organization that provided doctors for children who needed medical attention. He also contributes to organizations that provide important necessities for the homeless and has personally helped them find employment opportunities.

As a businessman and philanthropist, Dan Neiditch chooses his professional and personal projects with a careful, deliberate, and a thoughtful outlook — thus making him a recognizable figure in the real estate industry within New York and beyond. Neiditch’s articles on real estate, philanthropy, and business have appeared on the likes of Huffington Post .

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have a lot of meetings in a day — high level and day-to-day level meetings. As someone who likes to be involved with every aspect of my business, I meet with agents, contractors, and building management to get updates on our properties. Do we need to work on our pricing? Are the contractors hitting deadlines? What other investments can we make, get rid of, expand, etc.

I have my head and my hands in everything, so I rarely take notes. I like to be present and listen and see what’s going on, so I try to keep track of everything in my head when I can.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I have a group of people who are constantly bringing me ideas. But before I choose to turn an idea into a reality, I crunch numbers. As an investor, entrepreneur, or businessman, you have to learn to love numbers. Without being able to calculate what ideas make sense to build, you’re already starting out in the negative.

I never jump until I know that the cost structure is solid, the tax implications are attractive, etc. — then, I buy, build, or pass.

What trend excites you?

Solar energy excites and inspires me, which is why Atelier has solar panels installed. It’s the highest building in NYC with solar panels, and that’s something I’m really proud of. I’m always looking for new ways to introduce solar power into New York. I think we could do a lot better. As a city with 8 million people, we need to do better. We consume too much energy not to.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s more a discipline that became a habit: consistency. I practice due diligence in everything I do but especially in my business. I wouldn’t be able to lead anything, much less a successful business, if I weren’t consistent.

More than anything, being consistent and even-keeled makes people trust you. No one trusts someone who’s always changing his mind. Nothing tears down trust and confidence from your staff and clients more than that.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your first decision is usually the right one. Stick to your gut and don’t let other people dissuade you from what you want to do.

Tell us something that is true that no one agrees with you on.

I see a lot of investors who don’t take risks. Before I took over the family real estate business, my grandfather and father played things pretty safe. They bought real estate only in the Bronx where my grandfather grew up, and only complexes with a specific number of units. They were also really against leveraging debt or taking risks.

And they’re not alone. Even today, people are afraid to take risks, but I always have and do. When people are afraid to buy, I buy; a lot of people won’t do that.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Never stop studying or learning — about your market, your industry, whatever it is you do. You can’t make good decisions if you don’t study trends. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, what we’ve learned from history is that we never learn from history. In other words, don’t just study trends forward, study the trends in your industry that came before, and figure out what mistakes people made in the past.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

There are two related strategies that have helped me grow my business: being aggressive and being proactive. I’m always looking for new projects because I like being ahead of the curve; I have to be if I want to build and maintain a successful venture. Once I have my head fixed on something, I go for it. I go all in. I think aggressiveness is a lot like having a positive attitude in that you know for a fact you’re going to do something. When there is no doubt, there is only room to grow.

What is the one failure you had as an entrepreneur and how did you overcome it?

Mistakes happen, especially when you’re first starting out. My biggest mistake was that I trusted the wrong people in the beginning. I trusted that they were giving me the right numbers or the right advice.

But looking back, I’m glad for that experience, because now, all the final decisions are made by me. Who I choose to trust, even the way I think about trust, has changed. I never assume someone else is doing my homework for me, which is why I always go back and make sure everything is in order.

It’s not that I am constantly suspicious, because that’s no way to live, but I rely on my own intel before I assume someone else’s is better.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

As I mentioned earlier, solar power inspires me and maybe people don’t know that solar is more than just solar panels. The use of solar power in the U.S. is still lacking. There are a lot of applications that aren’t being implemented.

There’s one thing that Europe, specifically Denmark, is doing that hasn’t caught on in the United States yet, and that’s solar water pumping systems. Though it’s usually utilized on farms and other rural areas to water crops, it’d be a great coup for investors, especially ones in the real estate industry.

I recently read a Forbes article that says hotels use 50% more energy than multifamily buildings even though they have little over 50% occupancy most of the time. Imagine how much energy luxury hotels would be saving if they used solar power…

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently had an amazing glass of champagne at Daniel Boulud’s Daniel’srestaurant which I would personally rate as the best restaurant in New York.

When you pay for a service, regardless of its cost, you’re paying for nostalgia or memory. That champagne tasted amazing because I was in my favorite restaurant relaxing with people I wanted to be with. That’s worth way more than $100 in my book.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

River2River uses an internal database that has trackable properties in the market. It gives comps, props, and breaks down everything in simple numbers. It makes it easier for me to keep track of what’s happening in the markets and industry, and helps me make smarter decisions.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I recently read “Made to Stick which breaks down why some ideas work and others fail. If I pick up a book, it’s non-fiction, and only because I think it will teach me something. I like the idea of perpetual learning, and I encourage others to think the same way. The minute you think you’ve done all the research or know everything you need to about your business, it’s over.

What is your favorite quote?

Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” — Warren Buffett

If you’ve done your homework, paid your dues, and stuck to your gut, you’re not taking a risk so much as a decision based on experience that you can back up. I can back up my decisions because where I am today is proof I’ve made good choices and taken the right risks.

Five Types of New York City Real Estate You Should Buy Today

This post was originally featured on HuffingtonPost.com

Highly transparent and under-leveraged, the New York real estate market is one of the most stable in the world. If you are looking to make a savvy investment, now is a great time to beat rising property values — which are expected to increase by as much as 20 percent over the next three years — to secure real estate that will generate returns for years to come.

Traditionally, investors looked for opportunities in the affluent suburbs of Long Island and New Jersey, but growth in those areas has become stagnate. But today, we look to Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Hudson County, which are areas that are growing rapidly thanks to new job opportunities, especially in healthcare.

Healthcare jobs are growing by five percent per year — twice as fast as finance, the region’s primary economic and population driver — and account for 84 percent of New York City’s total population growth between 2015 and 2016. The rapid growth has increased New York’s population to a record high of 8,550,405 and shows no signs of slowing.

Here are the five most promising investment opportunities in the New York real estate sector to keep up with growth and changing demographics.

1. Apartment Buildings

As high home prices continue to rise and the city’s population continues to grow, a majority of New York residents are being driven into apartment building rentals located in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Hudson County. Therefore, apartment buildings purchased at the right price today can be a very lucrative investment.

Moreover, high proportions of immigrants — 40 percent in Hudson County and Brooklyn and 50 percent in Queens — create a large spread of incomes that create all kinds of opportunities for purchasing apartment buildings that cater to different income brackets.

2. Single-family Homes to be converted into Multiple Units

Because home prices are high compared to rents, pure single-family rentals are not likely to be lucrative investments, unless you’re looking to invest in a special area or are driven by other special circumstances. However, the high home prices that are driving people into renting can be lucrative if you’re able to purchase and refashion a single-family home into one featuring multiple units.

3. Retail Stores

Recent population increases in Brooklyn, and especially in Queens, have not been matched by the availability of new stores. In addition, the Bronx is underserved by new stores. Because healthcare jobs are growing and generating lower-, middle-, and higher-tier income across the city, retail stores are a reasonably safe investment.

4. Office Buildings

The same healthcare sector growth that is creating a need for new apartment buildings and stores, is also generating the need for new office space. Although millions of square feet of new office space are already under construction in Queens and Brooklyn, there is presently no indication that demand in those boroughs will slow even as the new planned office towers take shape. In fact, the office booms in these boroughs signal a healthy long-term future for New York’s overall economy.

Office space in Manhattan may also be a good investment, as Manhattan is still the center of the New York office world. Although 20 million additional square feet of office space are being constructed in Manhattan and are expected to be available by 2021, the number of new offices is insufficient to meet the demand from a booming economy. Nevertheless, reports have not accounted for additional space that is to be provided by new World Trade Center Towers, and the future absorption rate for new office space is unclear.

5. Mortgages and Construction Loans

Rising home prices will keep equity rising, too, making mortgages a sound investment. Although there is always some risk of default, that risk is just about average right now because rising home prices are in balance with incomes.

Alternatively, but in the same vein, construction loans will also go up with only an average risk of default, making them another prudent investment. Ingo Winzer, contributor to Forbes and president of Local Market Monitor — which has followed real estate dynamics since 1989 in over 300 communities — predicts 45,000 new houses and 70,000 apartments will be constructed in Queens over the next three years. Brooklyn will only see 40,000 new homes constructed, but 110,000 new apartments. The Bronx will likely experience modest new home construction but is expected to grow by 60,000 new apartments.

The idea that New York real estate is out-of-reach for those looking for sound investments may be closer to reach than many would think. The worst thing to do when thinking of buying real estate is to wait — especially in the ever-booming New York City.

Study: New Yorkers Are Roughly 1 Paycheck Away From Homelessness

New York City is famous the world over for its glitz and glamour, featured in all sorts of popular entertainment from movies to television shows. Yet not all that glitters is gold. Life in paradise is much harder than one may think. In fact, many New Yorkers are one paycheck away from homelessness, forced into a monthly catch-22–a cycle causing of perpetual anxiety.

A recently published study from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD) found that more than half of New Yorkers are without savings of any kind. Another study by theCenter for Economic Opportunity (CEO), reveals that nearly 25% of Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are living below the federal poverty level, homeless, or both. That same CEO report shows that while there has been a steady improvement over the years, these numbers don’t lie. There is a continual indication that many New Yorkers are wading just above the poverty line, and minorities living within the five boroughs are suffering the most. In those communities, there is a distinct lack of emergency savings, employment, and pursuit towards or opportunities for higher education, especially in the neighborhoods of Harlem in Manhattan and Bushwick in Brooklyn, among just two minority-rich communities.

According to the Shelter Census Report from the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), the past five years have seen an explosive increase in shelter attendance. In 2011, there were just under 40,000 people. As of October 2016, there were 62,306 people in the shelter system, a marked increase of over 20,000, or just about fifty percent.

In a troubling turn of events, the vast majority of shelter attendees are families with children. In its October 2016 figures, the DHS reports that a combined total of 15,769 families (consisting of 47,668 children and adults), were housed in shelters each night.

At the national level, the Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) from 2015, compiled by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, found that California and Florida also have a homeless population greater than six percent of their population. Other states which have significantly high homeless populations per capita include Texas and Massachusetts.

As with many large cities, New York City and its residents are not immune to economic or health factors that can cause homelessness. While numerous reports say that there are many families who bounce back quickly from being homeless, there are just as many who likely do not recover due to exigent circumstances. Some of the major causes of homelessness are a death in the family, (followed by the loss of the sole income in the household), or an unexpected financial debt that becomes too difficult to repay. Other major triggers for homelessness include hazardous housing conditions, job loss, overcrowding, eviction, and domestic violence.

Even in the best of times, life in New York City can be tough. And despite economic growth and an increase in jobs, these are far from the best of times. According to the Coalition for the Homeless,homelessness in New York City has reached levels not seen since the Great Depression. How can New Yorkers solve these problems? That’s up in the air, but a good start is de-stigmatizing homelessness and lobbying for increased affordable housing.

This article was originally published on DanNeiditch.org