Despite new laws, NYC will require homeless youth into adult shelters to access rent vouchers

Despite new laws, NYC will require homeless youth into adult shelters to access rent vouchers

Mayor Eric Adams’ administration will proceed to require younger homeless folks to enter the town’s strained adult shelter system to qualify for housing subsidies, regardless of legal guidelines meant to let teenagers and younger adults get them via youth amenities, youth shelter suppliers say.

At a Council listening to final week, homeless younger folks and youth shelter suppliers stated the Adams administration has refused to honor a key piece of laws handed by the Metropolis Council in 2021 meant to forestall many individuals underneath the age of 25 from exiting youth shelters and coming into the bigger adult system simply to meet the 90-day shelter keep standards to qualify for a CityFHEPS housing voucher. Town-funded subsidy covers the majority of the rent for low-income New Yorkers who handle to discover an residence, however first they have to keep in a Division of Homeless Companies shelter for 3 months to qualify.

“It’s saddening to hear that when progress was thought to be made and we were finally moving to access housing, we’re moving back to square one,” stated Onyx Walker, a co-coordinator on the New York Metropolis Youth Motion Board, which works to forestall youth homelessness, at a Council listening to Wednesday.

The 2021 legal guidelines had been designed to let teenagers and younger adults — often known as Runaway and Homeless Youth, or RHY– use the time spent at youth shelters to rely towards the 90-day keep earlier than they will access housing vouchers, reducing crimson tape that has led to extended stays in shelters, and making a direct line to vouchers for youth shelter residents. However a dispute between metropolis businesses on how to interpret the legal guidelines is inflicting pressure for younger folks in shelters and baffling shelter suppliers at a time when the mayor is looking for to handle record-high homelessness.

“The Department of Social Services has a duty to the young people it claims to want to help,” stated Walker, who has additionally skilled homelessness and was concerned in a years-long effort to cross the payments.

The Division of Social Companies, which controls the housing vouchers, declined requests for remark, as an alternative referring questions to the 2 businesses that oversee youth shelters and the foster care system.

Spokespersons for the Division of Youth and Group Growth and the Administration for Kids’s Companies stated time spent in youth shelters or foster care will rely towards the 90-day eligibility requirement however didn’t say why younger folks will have to enter the Division of Homeless Companies’ shelter system to qualify within the first place.

Metropolis Corridor didn’t reply questions on whether or not housing vouchers will be issued instantly to folks in youth shelters. Metropolis Corridor spokesperson Kate Sensible stated that residents of youth shelters can at the moment qualify for CityFHEPS vouchers with out coming into the town’s adult system. A modest pilot program has offered vouchers instantly to residents of youth shelters, however is ready to finish by June.

However a number of shelter suppliers, advocates and homeless youth say the town has instructed them that younger folks will as soon as once more have to enter adult amenities when the pilot expires.

DYCD and ACS initially appeared to help the view that younger folks ought to get vouchers with out going into adult shelters, in accordance to Jamie Powlovich, govt director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth.

Powlovich stated the legal guidelines empower the businesses overseeing youth shelters and the foster care system to challenge the vouchers to their shoppers, however DSS has stated they first have to safe extra funding to administer them.

DSS officers instructed Powlovich in November 2022 that the town’s Legislation Division was introduced in to settle the dispute between the businesses and sided with DSS officers. She stated her group has requested DSS a number of occasions to share the Legislation Division’s opinion however has not acquired a response.

The Legislation Division directed questions to DYCD and ACS.

Below the new legal guidelines, about 240 younger folks complete could be eligible for vouchers with out coming into the adult shelter system every year, in accordance to fiscal affect statements accompanying each payments.

Powlovich, whose group represents youth shelter suppliers, stated reducing off a direct line of access to CityFHEPS vouchers could be “illogical” and the “exact opposite of the intent of the legislation when we fought for it to be passed.”

Former Councilmember Stephen Levin. who launched the 2 legal guidelines, agreed.

“The intention was to make sure youth aging out of foster care and aging out of the [youth] system don’t have to go into adult shelter in order to obtain a CityFHEPS voucher,” stated “We were confident that that’s what the legislation did.”

Greater than 70,000 folks stayed in metropolis shelters on Jan. 19, together with almost 21,000 single adults, in accordance to the town’s day by day shelter census. The DHS shelter inhabitants has far surpassed document ranges however doesn’t embody New Yorkers staying in shelter techniques run by different businesses or amenities particularly put aside for not too long ago arrived migrants.

The roughly 700-bed youth system has hovered at or close to its capability, Metropolis Limits reported in September, with greater than 99 beds that had been shut down final 12 months however have but to reopen.

Julie Farber, govt director of Covenant Home, the biggest youth shelter supplier in New York Metropolis, stated the choice has actual penalties for younger folks “shocked” to study they will have to enter the adult system to access a voucher.

“Youth in the RHY system are homeless,” Farber stated. “They need access to the full range of housing resources, including CityFHEPS vouchers.”

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