Monday, February 1, 2010 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Taking Advantage of Homeless Families

An alarming news report documents the growing problems with Mayor Bloomberg's flawed "Work Advantage" program -- including children and families placed into hazardous homes.

The New York Daily News has, over the past two days, published a stunning examination of Mayor Bloomberg's controversial "Work Advantage" program -- a time-limited rent subsidy designed to move homeless families from shelters to private-market housing -- has harmed many vulnerable children and parents. The investigation found that:

"The city's Work Advantage program, which pays to house families in apartments for up to two years, has a checkered track record.

"The Department of Homeless Services, which runs Work Advantage, has put families in homes facing foreclosure, illegally converted apartments and units riddled with violations.

"Some landlords are shaking down Advantage tenants for extra under-the-table payments."

Daily News reporters Tina Moore and Robert Gearty talked to families placed in apartments that were illegally subdivided and homes undegoing foreclosures. Today's article highlights the tragic story of a homeless mother whose "Work Advantage" apartment is riddled with hazards and code violations, and whose landlord reportedly abused the woman's young daughter:

"When the city moved her and her two daughters out of a shelter and into a Brooklyn apartment, Tanesha Jones tolerated the rats, the lead paint and the broken window.

"What put her over the top was the moment her 9-year-old daughter told her the building's 50-year-old landlord had sexually abused her."

Since the "Work Advantage" program was unveiled by Bloomberg administration officials nearly three years ago, Coalition for the Homeless has highlighted its many flaws -- in particular the program's drop-dead time limits for housing assistance. By July 2011, more than 5,000 formerly-homeless families will lose their "Work Advantage" rent subsidy, and City officials still have not developed a plan to assist those families. In essence, the program is a revolving door back to homelessness.

Now it apears that City officials need to do a much better job of ensuring that families moved from shelter with the "Work Advantage" program are not placed in harm's way.





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