City to Stop Paying Rent for Thousands of Formerly Homeless

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Department of Homeless Services announced on its web site Friday that it will not pay February rents for at least 9,000 formerly homeless families and individuals currently receiving rental assistance through the Advantage housing program.

The move comes less than 24 hours after an appeals court dissolved a preliminary injunction that had required the city to keep paying rents until a legal challenge was resolved.

Karen Ruth said she and her son have been receiving an Advantage housing voucher for just over a year. "I have nowhere to go if they stop paying for me and my son to live here,” said Ruth, who currently lives in a private apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Ruth said she is legally blind and receives a disability check that's less than $1500 a month. Her monthly rent is $1375. Ruth pays $305 and the city covers the rest. The single mother said she's worried about ending up back in a homeless shelter, where they lived for 10 months before getting the housing voucher.

In a statement, Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond wrote "The city taxpayers have borne alone the extraordinary cost of this program since the withdrawal of state and federal funding almost a year ago." According to the city's law department, Homeless Services has spent $114 million on rental payments since June.

Homeless advocates have argued that shelter stays are more expensive. They predict many families will end up homeless again. Mary Brosnahan, with the Coalition for the Homeless, said ending rental payments puts thousands at risk of eviction in the middle of the winter at a time when shelters are already overcrowded. "More than 41,000 New Yorkers are homeless, including 17,000 children," she wrote in a statement.

Homeless advocates said that landlords that rent to tenants in the Advantage program have raised concerns. Landlords are angry that they might not get full rental payments.  The legal challenge over the housing voucher began last spring when Legal Aid sued to stop the city from ending the Advantage program. Attorneys argued that people would not have agreed to leave shelter for apartments they could not afford had the city not guaranteed rental assistance for up to two years.

 The city argued that the housing program was a social service benefit subject to funding changes.

 In September, a lower court ruled in the city's favor. Legal Aid appealed and a hearing is still scheduled for Thursday.


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Comments [4]

Jade118 from Queens, NY

This petition was started to right the city about this issue! Sign, and spread the word!

Mar. 13 2012 12:18 AM

Landlords wanted to evict people to sell buildings and apartments to the city to create co ops and condo said to be for low income and affordable housing.
People were told new buildings around the city were for home owners only. Many people were ripped off after saving to be owners, endless fires burned families out around New York. People were forced to leave apartments and belongings put on streets no offer of storage assistance when evicted by marshals. People were told to apply for assistance no one qualified to get. People were told to obtain work advantage or any assistance for housing to enter the shelter system, to get a bed in a shelter they had to be evicted ruining credit reports. People were made to run around all boroughs looking at apartments so horribly broken down, remote, violent with over priced side deals. People were told take it or be put in the streets or a next step with the worst offenders. Housing agencies made the deals on places never passing inspections. Motivated people took 2 or 3 low wage jobs told to save because it would be matched by the program and would be approved for a second year, afterwards section 8. Then work advantage was cancelled almost as soon as it started, no more ITA training and education vouchers job layoffs turning employees away at the door saying no work just call in and check so people no longer met the work qualifications to keep apartments and work advantage. No one could maintain employment, now shelters want to refuse people with no profitable issues. Instead of living years of life go by working and getting fired bounced around shelters with violent addicts and mentally ill and excons etc.

Feb. 20 2012 11:00 PM

My heart goes out to all involved in this debacle. I own a small three family building in the Bronx and have an Advantage tenant that has not paid their copay since March of 2011. Their lease expired Nov 30, 2011 and the city stopped paying rent on December 1st 2011. I hired an attorney in June of 2011 and started eviction procedings. The lawyer informed me that the court had lost the eviction file in mid Dec of 2011 and that she would have to re-create the file. Two weeks later I was told that the court had found the file and a signature was needed by the Judge for a warrant to be issued. Next I heard a new Judge was placed on the case and he needed time to review the file. It's now mid February I am owed more than $6000.00, have no lease with tenants since Dec 1st of 2011. City wants taxes, water and sewer,.......II'S NOT RIGHT. It's 2:15 AM can't sleep thinking about this mess. Get's me angry.

Feb. 15 2012 02:14 AM
Fishmael from NYC

As part of any such announcements by any agency, they should be required to describe the procedures that are in place to keep someone like this blind grandmother from being put out on the street, including presenting a budget where it's possible for them to find alternatives.

Sure, there are always all kinds of complicating factors in any such program.... but it should not be acceptable, especially for an agency such as the Dept. of Homeless *Services*, to just shrug and pass the buck.... which is what this appears to be.


Feb. 04 2012 03:46 PM

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