Advantage NY—What You Need to Know

The new Advantage Program, beginning August 1, 2010, offers homeless individuals and families a rental subsidy to assist in the payment of rent for one year, with the possibility of an extension for one additional year. Recipients must pay 30% of their income towards the rent in the first year and 40% of their income towards the rent in the second year, if renewed. The subsidy covers the remainder of the rent.

UPDATED MARCH 30, 2011:

The City has been ordered to pay April's Advantage rent to current tenants. READ UPDATED INFORMATION FROM THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY.

READ AN IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM THE LEGAL AID SOCIETY INFORMING CURRENT ADVANTAGE TENANTS OF THEIR RIGHTS

Download a Fact Sheet from the Legal Aid Society about the City's legal commitments to continue paying Advantage rent subsidies here.

Download a "Know Your Rights" flyer about Advantage in English here.

Download a "Know Your Rights" flyer about Advantage in Spanish here.

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Download a Fact Sheet on the new Advantage Program here.

Guard against illegal side deals. Learn about your rights here.

Who is Eligible?

Shelter Residents Covered:
• Families with children residing in shelter provided by the City of New York (both DHS and HRA-contracted shelters).
• Adults without children residing in a shelter provided by the City of New York.
• Adults without children who are currently residing in a stabilization or safe haven bed.

Eligibility Requirements:
• For households with one adult member while in shelter, the adult member of the household must be:
     o Working a minimum of 20 hours weekly and meeting the 35 hours of combined engagement/work requirements; or
     o In receipt of SSI or SSDI or other federal disability benefits; or
     o Classified by HRA to be needed at home to care for a household member in receipt of SSI or SSDI or other federal disability benefit.
• For households with two or more adult members, at least one adult must be working a minimum of 20 hours and engaged in work activities for a total of 35 hours unless both adults are in receipt of SSI. The second adult must be in receipt of SSI or engaged in work activities for a minimum of 20 hours and compliant with all HRA program requirements.
• The family or adult must reside in a DHS shelter or safe haven or stabilization bed for a minimum of 60 days. Clients in HRA domestic violence shelters must reside there for a minimum of 42 days.
• The household may not have a total gross income that exceeds 200% of the federal poverty level.
• Households must be in receipt of public assistance (AC/SI) at the time of exit from shelter.
• No member of a Temporary Assistance case may be currently under an employment or child support sanction and must not have been sanctioned at any time during the past 30 days.

How do I apply?

If you believe you are eligible for Advantage and live in a New York City family or single adult shelter, contact your case worker or housing specialist to complete an application.

How does the subsidy work?

In the first year, a contribution of 30 percent of your total gross household income will be required and paid directly to the landlord each month. The Advantage subsidy will cover the rest of the rent. Any additional rental payments (side deals) solicited by your landlord are illegal. You are only responsible for the amount specified as 30 percent of your income.

The amount of the subsidy and client contribution will be established at the time that you are certified for the program and will not be adjusted during the first year of the program.

After applying, and if you are approved, you will receive an award letter establishing the amount of rent you are responsible for and the amount the subsidy will cover. You can then begin searching for apartments. 

Apartment Inspections

When you find an apartment, an inspection should be scheduled with the Department of Homeless Services who will send an inspector to the apartment. If repairs are necessary, DHS will instruct the landlord to make the repairs and will come back to make sure they have been completed before you move in.

If you see an apartment with serious conditions issues, you do not have to take it. Housing to which you are referred must be safe and appropriate to the needs of your family. Make sure your apartment is inspected and any necessary repairs are made before you sign a lease and move in.

Second Year

Eligibility requirements change for the second year of Advantage and families must meet all the new requirements in order to receive a second year of assistance. The renewal process will be conducted by HRA and will include periodic reviews during the first year.

Eligibility Requirements:
• You must have maintained your first year eligibility requirements for all but a maximum of 2 months.
• You may not have a total gross income that exceeds 200% of the federal poverty level.
• You must be working 35 hours/week in unsubsidized employment, unless you are on disability benefits.

How does the second year work?

You will be required to make a contribution of 40 percent of your household income towards the rent. The subsidy will cover the rest of the rent.

The amount of the subsidy and your contribution will be established at the time that you are recertified for a second year of assistance. These amounts will not be adjusted during the course of the year.