Today’s Wall Street Journal highlights a growing problem amidst already record homelessness in New York City – families returning to shelter from the failed Advantage program. As of the end of 2011, over 3,400 former-Advantage families had returned to shelter, comprising close to 30 percent of all families that were no longer receiving rental assistance.
Based on this past data, it can be anticipated that close to 3,000 families will return in 2012. Two thousands of these families will be returning earlier than expected as a direct result of Advantage rental payments ending in February.
All in all, these numbers paint a clear picture of the failures of time limited rental subsidies. Since the Bloomberg administration cut off homeless families from receiving federal housing resources in 2005, the number of families experiencing repeat episodes of homelessness has more than doubled. Prior to 2005, one in four families entering shelter had been homeless before. Now, in 2012, over half of all families entering shelter have been homeless before!
There can be a way out of this homelessness crisis if the Bloomberg administration acts quickly. The City Council, led by Speaker Christine Quinn, has proposed a plan that would help thousands of our fellow New Yorkers move out of city shelters into affordable homes in the next two years. This plan is not radical. It simply would enact what decades of evidence show is most effective in getting homeless families back on their feet: giving homeless families priority for public housing and Federal (Section 8) housing vouchers and creating a new, targeted rental subsidy program. Moreover, the Independent Budget Office just yesterday confirmed cost savings associated with the main part of this plan.
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