50 percent fewer homeless families being admitted to shelters after new requirements

Posted On Fri, April 7, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, April 7, 2017 By In Policy

In February Mayor de Blasio announced that he plans to open 90 new homeless shelters, but during this same month, only 38 percent of families seeking shelter through the Department of Homeless Services were approved, reports the Daily News. This is a 50 percent drop from the same time last year, which comes after the agency’s Commissioner, Steven Banks, received approval from the state in November to require families seeking shelter to present “clear, convincing and credible evidence” that they absolutely have nowhere else to go.

Banks’ change reversed a state policy put in place a year earlier that made it easier to gain acceptance into shelters and therefore led to a spike in the acceptance rate. As the Daily News tell us, “In October before the eligibility requirements were tightened back up, the city accepted 51% of family applications for shelter. In November, it dropped to 47%; in December, 42%; in January, 43%.”

Interestingly, when previously working as an advocate, Banks had asked for the regulations to be looser. His sudden change in heart has “disturbed” groups such as the Coalition for the Homeless, who have seen more people coming into their crisis center as of late. Though the DHS may determine individuals can stay with family members or friends, this often doesn’t work out due to “medical issues, crowding, disagreements or discrimination.”

In response, DHS spokesman Isaac McGinn said, “Our eligibility rate is consistent with past years — and we believe this rate and our revised processes enable us to more effectively reconnect New Yorkers with their communities to avoid shelter. At the same time, family shelter applications and reapplications are down in part due to these changes that have helped us find solutions allowing families to remain in permanent housing in their communities.”

Some may argue with McGinn’s logic, considering that there’s a record 60,000 New Yorkers in shelters and that homeless spending doubled over the past three years hitting $2.3 billion. And since the shelter infrastructure is so over capacity, around $400,000 a day is being spent on using hotel rooms as temporary shelters. Trump’s proposed budget cuts also add to the uncertainty of the city’s shelter system and homelessness crisis.

[Via NYDN]

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