Friday, March 9, 2012 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

8,000 Families Reach Critical Point as Advantage Evictions Loom

WNYC reported this morning on the increasingly dire situation of 8,000 formerly-homeless tenants and their landlords, who have abruptly lost rental assistance payments under the Advantage program. After not receiving the City subsidy for two months, many landlords are now beginning eviction proceedings against tenants who are unable to pay their full rent.

One of the tenants highlighted in the story is James Lee Walker, a disabled veteran who receives less than $800 a month in disability and social security payments. The City states that a shocking 20% of the 8,000 households who lost their subsidies in February rely solely on fixed incomes because of their age or disability. It's practically guaranteed these 1,600 tenants will be facing eviction in the coming months, in addition to countless other households who are working, but not making enough to cover their full rent.

Unfortunately, this situation is nothing new. Since its inception, the Advantage program has continually failed formerly-homeless adults and families. City data show that since 2007 over 1 in 4 families have returned to shelter after receiving Advantage. But now the problem is magnified, as 8,000 households are being cut off simultaneously.

The human cost to this failed program is not insignificant, as illustrated by Mr. Walker. He has battled alcoholism for much of his life but acknowledges that a stable home has helped significantly -- a claim backed by years of research in what is known as the Housing First model.

We implore the Bloomberg administration not to let this situation get any worse by immediately targeting federal housing resources to homeless households and by creating an improved rental subsidy modeled on the successful Section 8 voucher. If the City continues to do nothing in response to thousands of families on the brink of homelessness (in addition to record numbers of adults and families already in shelter), the whole city will feel the impact, both financially and socially.

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