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NYC program provides financial incentive to house the homeless

"Home for the Holidays" seeks to ease the heavy burden on the shelter system.
NYC/Creative Commons

Open your heart and home to the less fortunate and you will be rewarded —by New York City.

Applications are being accepted through the end of December for a program called, “Home for the Holidays,” which provides up to $1,800 a month to the friends and relatives of homeless families who take them in.

The goal is to bring 5,000 qualifying families out of the city’s perpetually overburdened homeless shelters, where about 60,000 people —24,000 of them children —now sleep each night.

“With the holidays, we wanted to redouble our efforts to reconnect people with their families,” said Steven Banks, Department of Homeless Service commissioner. The program will both reduce costs and help unburdenshelters, officials said.

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According to figures, the city now spends $1.6 billion a year to combat homelessness.

“The situation has built up over many decades, and in the city everyone has a role to play,” Banks said.

The hosts must have a pre-existing relationship with the homeless and be willing to house them for at least three months, and no more than a year. The host and the homeless family will each get $500 at the time of move-in.

After that, the city will pay the host $1,200, $1,500 or $1,800 a month depending on the size of the family the host takes in.

The host families will also remain eligible for rent subsidy programs such as LINC and CITYFEPS.

"Home for the Holidays" grew out of a previous initiative to ease homelessness among military veterans, Banks said. That program appealed to landlords, asking them to house the veterans in exchange for some compensation.

It costs the city almost twice as much to house someone in a homeless shelter compared to paying a host family. So while it currently costs the city $200 million a year to house 5,000 families in shelters, it will cost a maximum $108 million to provide for those families.

 
 
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