In continuation of yesterday's blog and stories in the Daily News, I'd like to highlight another serious flaw of the Work Advantage program--it lasts for just two years. The first 1000 families were put on the subsidy around the fall of 2007. As a result, a wave of families are now reaching the 2-year mark and timing off the program. Many of these families face the risk of re-entering shelter with the loss of this assistance and lack of any alternatives.
One of these families, headed by "Ms. M" is now facing an immediate risk of re-entering shelter. Ms M and her three children exited the shelter system with a Work Advantage voucher in November 2007. Ms. M has worked diligently over the past 2 years to care for her children and maintain and improve her career. In November 2009, Ms M's Work Advantage subsidy expired and she was unable to make up the difference in rent while still caring for her children. She takes home about $2000 each month and her apartment costs $1400. She was unable to pay her rent for December and January and is now facing eviction and a return to the shelter system.
When Ms. M timed off of the subsidy, she put in an application for Section 8--the only option for families in her situation. Unfortunately, Section 8 is now frozen and is not distributing any vouchers. Furthermore, nearly 3000 vouchers that had already been distributed will no longer be honored (as announced in December 2009). This affects the two other Advantage Programs--Children's Advantage and Fixed Income Advantage, which both automatically switch to Section 8 after two years, putting even more families at risk of returning to shelter. At the end of June 2011, over 5000 Work Advantage Families alone will have timed off of the program.
The NYC Department of Homeless Services has offered no plans or solutions for these families that are in severe need of more assistance. In order to keep them housed and out of the shelter system, DHS must come up with an immediate plan to help these families.
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