Working Families Charged Rent to Live in New York Shelters

Families who have income will now be charged a small rent to stay in public housing shelters in New York City, part of a 1997 state law that had up until now gone unenforced.

"The new policy is based on a 1997 state law that was not enforced until last week, when shelter operators across the city began requiring residents to pay a certain portion of their income. The amount varies based on factors that include family size and what shelter is being used, but should not exceed 50 percent of a family's income, a state official said."

"..City officials said the new rent requirement had been in the works since a 2007 state audit that forced them to pay back $2.4 million in state housing aid that should have been covered by homeless families with income. They argued that homeless people with income should be expected to pay for a portion of their shelter costs, a model that echoes the federal Section 8 housing voucher program.

"I think it's hard to argue that families that can contribute to their shelter cost shouldn't," Robert V. Hess, the city's commissioner of homeless services, said in a telephone interview Friday. "I don't see this playing out in an adverse way. Our objective is not for families to remain in shelter. Our objective is to move families back into their own homes and into the community."

It is unclear why the state law has not been enforced until now. New York's situation is unusual, with far more working homeless families than elsewhere in the state, and higher housing costs than virtually anywhere in the country."

Full Story: New York Charges Rent for Working Homeless

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