The number of homeless children living in New York City shelters is at its highest in nearly eight decades and is reigniting the debate over Mayor Bloomberg's controversial cuts to housing programs such as Advantage.

Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless said in a Huffington Post article: "Not since the grim days of the Great Depression has New York City had 20,000 children sleeping homeless each night."

The total shelter population has risen by 17 percent in the past year, according to the New York Daily News, and the number of children in the shelters has risen by 18 percent, city stats show.

In April 2012, there were an all-time record 43,000 homeless people, including 10,000 homeless families with 17,200 homeless children, sleeping each night in the New York City municipal shelter system. Families comprise nearly three-quarters of the homeless shelter population,” City Councilmember Letitia James wrote in a recent e-mail to Forbes.

Mayor Bloomberg said in August that homeless individuals can have "a much more pleasurable experience than they ever had before," referring to the quality of the city's shelters and suggesting that the homeless have no incentive to leave, according to reports. His decision to end the homeless program Advantage was met with much criticism by homeless advocates, reported the Huffington Post.

The number of individuals looking to shelters and charity has been increasing not just in New York City, but nationally as well. In June, the U.S. Education Department found that the number of homeless students reached an unprecedented one million at the end of the 2010-2011 school year, reported the Huffington Post.

“Since just May, more than 2,000 children have become homeless,” said Ralph da Costa Nunez, CEO of the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, in the New York Daily News. “If the trend continues, we will surely see more than 20,000 children living in shelters by Christmas — a gift that nobody wants.”