The amount of homeless people, including children, in NYC is grossly underestimated. Most statistics list only the number of people who stay in the Municipal shelter system, which by itself is nearly 48,000 people, almost 15,000 of them children.
The problem with this data is it’s severely limited, since there are multiple shelters not in the system that are also regularly filled to capacity. In addition, there are countless homeless people who prefer to stay on the streets, in various places like subway station benches, abandoned buildings and vehicles, etc. Still more play the couch-hopping game every night, with friends, family members and other acquaintances.
The homeless population in NYC consists of those who live in domestic violence situations, victims of addiction and substance abuse, those who live with mental illnesses and the occasional “just plain hard luck” cases. Most of these people struggle every day just to eat; survival is their daily goal. One source, the Bowery Mission, puts the total number of homeless in NYC at nearly 80,000, or 1 in every 106 New Yorkers. Needless to say, there’s a major problem, and one that needs to be effectively addressed.
CityFHEPS Program Changes
CityFHEPS is a rental assistance program set up to help those who live below poverty level to help individuals and families find and keep housing. The program has finally changed critical rules regarding their vouchers so that a drastically increased number of individuals will be eligible for renewal.
The new rule, published last Friday, means those who receive the vouchers will be eligible to retain them after the standard 5-year period, allowing them to use the vouchers if they earn up to 80% of the area median income, which is $66,880 for individuals and $85,920 for a family of 3. Renewal eligibility was at 250% of the federal poverty level; just $32,200 for individuals and under $55K for the family of 3.
The new legislation also increases the value of the vouchers to match Section 8 housing amounts, and more closely reflect realistic rent prices in the area. Previously, the CityFHEPS vouchers only allowed individuals to find a place that charged up to $1265/month, and $1580/month for the family of 3. But now, the rental vouchers allow recipients to find a 1-bedroom, 1 bath apartment for up to $1945/month, $2217/month for families.
The recipients of the vouchers pay 30% of their income towards the monthly rent amount, and the City program covers the rest. Keep in mind, salary and rent are not the only factors. Those with existing liabilities or other sources of income may need to adjust accordingly. Regardless of voucher qualifications, the city encourages all renters to consult an online rental calculator to determine their ideal apartment price ranges.
In addition, the Department of Social Services even covered mid-year rent increases, as well as establishing a new criteria for applicants facing evictions and homelessness. Before, the process required that applicants provide proof of being evicted, in order to qualify. Now, people can apply with a rent demand letter, before having to endure the eviction process. All of these adjustments will take effect in December of 2021, and have been a long time coming.
Rochelle Harris is a passionate writer originally from Phoenix, AZ. who credits her success to integrity and determination. She has a great sense of humor, loves music and her family, and writes fiction and poetry in her spare time. She is excited about the New York experience and lifestyle! Follow Rochelle on Twitter at @LinguisticAnRky or get in touch at [email protected]