Hope for Homeless Families in the Proposed Home Stability Support Program
by CBJC Staff April 3, 2017
Marta M., a disabled woman and her sixteen year old daughter, Sandra, moved out of their shelter last year with a limited public assistance rent supplement only provided to those with children under eighteen.
“When Sandra turns nineteen, the family is likely to end up homeless, again, just like many of my clients who have been in and out of shelter for years,” says Marta’s lawyer, Lisa Pearlstein, Project Director of the City Bar Justice Center’s Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
However, there is now some hope for Marta and thousands of other poor New Yorkers who face unstable living situations: Home Stability Support (HSS). HSS is a proposed statewide rent supplement program for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions. The supplement would bridge the difference between the current shelter allowance and the 85% of fair market value as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Localities would then have the option to further raise the support up to 100% of the Fair Market Rent, at the locality’s expense. The supplement would also cover singles, childless couples, and families with children over eighteen – these populations are not currently covered by existing New York City rent subsidy programs or the recent settlement in Tejada v. Roberts, 453245/15 (NY Sup.) (Kenney, J.).
The New York City Bar Association urged New York State leaders to include funding for the proposed Home Stability Support (HSS) program in the final executive budget. In a March 30, 2017 letter to Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders, Bar President John Kiernan wrote, “We are alarmed by the magnitude of homelessness in New York State and the attendant human and financial costs to our fellow citizens,” adding, “the HSS program would help many New Yorkers in need and likewise offer our members,” who represent these New Yorkers, “a new and powerful remedy to stem the tide of displacement that is driving large numbers of families and individuals into homelessness each and every day.”
“So many of our clients end up in shelter because they are escaping domestic violence, they are not eligible for any existing rent subsidies, or their rent subsidy did not increase when their rent increased,” states Lisa Pearlstein. “HSS is a fiscally responsible way to keep people in their homes and out of the shelter system and will have a huge impact in preventing homelessness.”
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