NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) — The number of people in New York City’s homeless shelters exceeded 40,000 last week for the first time.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane On The Story

The figure is contained in a report released Wednesday.

The report shows a rapid rise in homeless children and families since the spring when the city eliminated a rent subsidy program.

The Wall Street Journal obtained an advance copy of the report by the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless.

The report shows that since May, children in shelters rose 10 percent and homeless families went up more than five percent.

The mayor’s office on Tuesday defended its approach to homeless but acknowledged it needs continued attention.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks with Councilmember Steve Levin

Councilmember Steve Levin said that while Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to cut the homeless population by two-thirds when he took office it has now increased by one-third.

“At what point do you call it like it is and say that these policies have been failures?” Levin said. “The homeless policy in New York has been a failure.”

What do you think the number of homeless is on the rise? Sound off in our comments section below…

(Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)