Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
New York, NY –
Homeless advocates have been complaining for years about illegal boarding homes described as dangerous firetraps. Yesterday the city agreed to a rule that will prohibit shelters from referring homeless people to these places. WNYC's Cindy Rodriguez reports.
REPORTER: It's mostly homeless men who stay in these unregulated boarding homes that are often over crowded and unsanitary. Advocates say the homeless are often sent there by shelter workers under pressure to move people out. Under the new measure, Homeless Services Commissioner Robert Hess says shelter workers will use housing databases to check for violations and determine what is unsafe.
HESS: We need to be focused on referring folks to that safe housing and I think the guidance that we're providing can only help move us in that direction.
REPORTER: Advocates say owners of illegal boarding homes make money off the homeless by taking in as many people as possible and then collecting their welfare checks. Elected officials hope that once the referrals stop the homes will go away.