Amid record family homelessness and high unemployment, the Bloomberg administration is putting thousands of formerly-homeless families at risk of returning to shelter by cutting them off from rental assistance under the City’s flawed Advantage program.

The Advantage program was started in 2007 and provides a maximum of 2 years of rental assistance, after which families are left to fend for themselves. City data show that the average working family placed on Advantage is making $9.50 an hour and working 32 hours a week–not nearly enough to afford rent in New York City’s exorbitantly priced housing market.

By the end of 2010, more than 7,400 formerly-homeless Advantage families will have lost their rental assistance and be at risk of re-entering the shelter system. By the end of 2011, more than 7,100 additional families will join them. In a grim picture of what may come, by October 2009, more than 900 re-applications for shelter had been filed by families previously on the Advantage program, representing as much as two-thirds of all expired Advantage families at that time.

Additionally, about half of the families whose subsidy will expire in the coming months are unable to work because of a disability or active child welfare case. They were originally put on Advantage with the promise of transitioning to a Section 8 voucher. Even before the Section 8 crisis in December 2009 that closed the program indefinitely, only 18 percent of these families had actually transitioned to a Section 8 voucher, leaving more than 80 percent of these families with no work income and a high rent burden.

We launched a campaign today to urge the Mayor to change this flawed policy by creating a longer-term, more flexible rent subsidy for families that effectively bridges the gap between income and rent. Please send a letter to the Mayor here!

And read our full report here.

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