Wednesday, June 13, the Mayor’s Public Engagement Unit, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Education and Department of Homeless Services Homebase providers hosted a day of action, engaging parents and caregivers at 25 elementary schools across the five boroughs during morning drop-off time to inform them of city services available to families at risk for becoming homeless.
Grace Bonilla, administrator for Human Resources Administration, part of the Department of Social Services, stated that, as far as location, they “look at homelessness rates in different neighborhoods to prevent increased numbers.” Their goals are to “reach out to these different neighborhoods and spread the message about their services,” as well as “to fight income inequality.” Before the day of action, the de Blasio administration looked at attendance rates for data purposes to extend these needed services and resources, helping “at least over 1,000 students.”
Homeless New Yorkers looking to use rental assistance vouchers to move out of city shelters are still struggling with discrimination by landlords, insufficient funding and a perpetually tight housing market, according to interviews with care providers and city officials.
While providers have applauded Mayor Bill de Blasio for expanding voucher funding early in his administration, a number of factors are making it difficult for qualifying adults and families to use the vouchers to find apartments, causing clients to spend longer times in shelter than necessary. That is contributing to record numbers of New Yorkers in shelter amid an intractable homelessness crisis in New York City.
For the past four years, New York City has tried to persuade landlords and real estate brokers to rent apartments to low-income people and homeless people with bonuses and pledges that rent would be guaranteed with government vouchers.
The incentives have helped thousands of people move into permanent housing throughout the city. But some landlords have still refused to accept vouchers, city officials said, which is against the law for buildings with six apartments or more.