Big News in Battle Against Homelessness
Ammunition Added by New York City & State
Big news this week in our battle against homelessness as New York State agrees to increase housing subsidies and New York City announces plans to build 90 more shelters. The battle is huge because
Today we face a new kind of homelessness driven by years of wages not keeping up with the cost of housing in our city. It’s caused pain for millions and deep pain for thousands of people who have become homeless.
You may see them in the line at the grocery store, or in the bank, or at work. And you may never know that at night they return to a shelter instead of a home. Today, 70 percent of shelter residents are families. They are the invisible majority of our homeless crisis. (Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City, PDF)
"The Mayor realistically addressed the persistent, decades old crisis of homelessness,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan said when he returned from Mayor De Blasio’s announcement. “His initiatives are positive steps to reduce the number of our individuals and families whose homes are the now the streets.”
At Catholic Charities we know firsthand the faces of homelessness; the toddlers, teens, mothers and grandparents terrified of living on the streets. Together with our affiliated agencies Catholic Charities prevented 6,349 people from becoming homeless last year alone. And we do this by cobbling together subsidies, grants, donations – whatever it takes – to keep families in their homes.
But with state housing subsidies frozen to 2004 levels as rent levels skyrocketed during the past 13 years, our challenge to keep families in homes they can afford skyrocketed as well. This is why the state’s plans announced this week to increase housing subsidies is at least as important as the city’s plans to build more shelters.
Under New York State’s just-announced settlement, it will increase its basic Family Eviction Prevention Supplement (FEPS) shelter allowance by 78-percent to prevent families facing financial crises and in imminent danger of losing their homes from becoming homeless.
“The increase in the maximum levels of rent for the Family Eviction Prevention Supplement (FEPS) is a decision that will benefit many families with children who struggle to pay their monthly rent due to the inadequacy of the shelter allowance of the public assistance grant,” says Catholic Charities Preserving Housing Director Antonio Garcia.
As Mr. Garcia explains, our Preserving Housing program provides homelessness prevention services for families and individuals facing imminent eviction. Our staff assesses the situation. They work with individuals and families to create comprehensive plans that respond to the immanent emergency. And they help avoid future crises.
“The new levels of rent, agreed upon by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance through this settlement,” Mr. Garcia says, “are more consistent with the market rents that working poor families can afford in some of the NYC boroughs.”
To access rent subsidies and other government programs our caseworkers work with landlords, legal services, fellow community-based organizations and financial management programs. Individuals and families who fall behind on rent and are being sued in housing court can also receive help from Catholic Charities with:
- Back rent
- Family eviction prevention housing subsidies
- Moving from New York City shelters to suitable apartments
- Housing court and other legal challenges
- Mediation with landlords
Thankfully, New York State’s increase in housing subsidies coupled with New York City’s plans to build more shelters add significant ammunition in our battle against homelessness.
“Helping our homeless neighbors requires the cooperation and efforts of all New Yorkers," says Msgr. Sullivan.
A home is the foundation for stability. Catholic Charities is here to help.
Read more about the NY state eviction prevention settlement in The New York Times.
Find out more about how New York City plans to turn the tide against homelessness.
Learn more about Catholic Charities free help to prevent evictions.