Single Adult Shelter System
The Callahan Consent Decree guarantees homeless single adults a right to shelter and certain standards for shelter placements. If you have no where to sleep, you can walk into an intake office and let the City know you have no where to stay – you have a right to receive a shelter placement the same night.
If you have had to sleep on the floor or in a chair in a shelter or been bused after midnight, please call the Coalition’s hotline:855-NYC-CFTH (855-692-2384). Leave a message with your name, date of birth, phone number and shelter.
Please note that the voicemail of the hotline is not checked every day. If you are without a place to sleep, we strongly suggest you come in to speak with an advocate in the Crisis Intervention Program at Coalition for the Homeless. While we suggest you arrive early to sign in to see an advocate, if you are without any place to sleep at night please be sure to mention this to the security guard whenever you arrive.
While there is no eligibility process, there is an assessment period of approximately 21 days (although assessment can vary in length), to determine where you will be placed. You may be transferred to another shelter for assessment or may stay at the intake shelter. Once your assessment is complete, DHS will transfer you to an “official shelter” where you will stay for a longer period of time. Your official shelter site may change while you are in shelter – click here for information about your rights with respect to shelter transfers.
The Callahan Consent Decree also guarantees access to certain resources and conditions in your shelter placement. You must receive a bed frame, a mattress, a locker and lock, your bed must be 3 feet apart from the other beds in the shelter, you must have access to linens, basic toiletries, and laundry services among other things. The Peoples Callahan outlines all of your rights in more detail.
Under the “Client Responsibility” procedure homeless individuals and families can be ejected from the shelter system for a minimum of 30 days if DHS claims that they did not comply with:
- an “independent living plan” (ILP)
- housing search requirements
- facility rules concerning health and safety
- scheduled appointments
- saving requirements
Under the rules, shelter residents could be ejected from shelter for breaking curfew or missing appointments, for not complying with shelter savings plans, or other so-called “violations.” Residents cannot be ejected from shelter if they have a mental or physical condition that makes them unable to follow these rules, although proving this is sometimes difficult.
The Coalition for the Homeless, working with our Client Advisory Group and the Client Advisory Boards, will fight to protect your rights. We will:
- provide legal assistance
- assist with fair hearings and other administrative appeals
- ensure that you still have a roof over your head
Eligibility for Families WITH Children
You have a right to shelter if you have no other safe, available housing option. You must be allowed to apply for shelter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For information on where to apply for shelter or the documents you will need in order to apply, please click here.
When you apply for shelter, you will meet with a diversion worker who will try to help you avoid entering shelter. This worker may offer you assistance with benefits, relocation assistance, or discuss with you any options to locate permanent housing. This worker is not part of the shelter application process. You still have a right to apply for shelter no matter what is discussed in diversion. Click here for more information about your rights with respect to diversion.
If you are still in need of shelter after speaking with diversion, you will meet with a family worker who will ask you where you have lived in the past two years. Be sure to tell the worker where you stayed, but also all the reasons why you had to leave.
You will be provided with shelter that night and for approximately 10 days after. During this time, PATH will investigate your eligibility. They will visit and call places you have stayed and people you have lived with to see if there are any housing options available to you. You may also be given appointments to return to PATH during this time.
At the end of the 10 days DHS will make a decision, if you are eligible or ineligible for shelter. If you are not found eligible, you have the right to reapply any time with no waiting period. However, the City can deny shelter to some families when they believe another housing option is available. If you need assistance with your application for shelter, come into the Crisis Intervention Program.
The City MUST give you shelter when you re-apply if:
- You or your child would be in immediate danger if you do not receive shelter (including for medical reasons).
- You have new facts, information, or documents, or something has changed.
- You (or the primary tenant) have just been evicted from the last place you stayed.
- Your child is the victim of child abuse, and the abuser lives in the last place you stayed or can find your child.
- You are a domestic violence victim, and your abuser lives in the last place you lived or can find you.
- You are re-applying more than 90 days after last having been found ineligible for shelter.
The City must also give you shelter if you were found ineligible because:
- You “failed to cooperate.”
- You “failed to demonstrate that you are a family unit.”
- You had to miss appointments at PATH.
- You were “logged out” before your application was decided.
If the City finds you ineligible when you re-apply but you have a shelter placement, or if you receive a discharge notice, are threatened with loss of shelter, or are denied shelter when you seek it, come into the Crisis Intervention Program as soon as possible. You can also read more regarding your rights during the application process.
Eligibility for Families WITHOUT Children
You have a right to apply for shelter and have your application considered by the City. The application office, called the Adult Family Intake Center (AFIC), is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For information on where to apply for shelter or the documents you will need in order to apply, please click here.
When you apply for shelter you will meet with a worker who will ask you where you have lived in the past two years. Be sure to tell the worker where you stayed, but also all the reasons why you had to leave. Explain the details of why you left.
You will be provided with shelter that night and for approximately 10 days after. During this time, AFIC will investigate your eligibility. They will visit and call places you have stayed and people you have lived with to see if there are any housing options available to you. You may also be given appointments to return to AFIC during this time.
At the end of the 10 days DHS will make a decision, if you are eligible or ineligible for shelter. If you are not found eligible, you have the right to reapply any time with no waiting period. However, the City can deny shelter to families when they believe another housing option is available. If you need assistance with your application for shelter, come into the Crisis Intervention Program.
I’m being pressured to accept a three quarter house or a room.
What is Illegal housing? (sometimes called “three-quarter housing,” “PA housing” or “transitional housing”)
A three-quarter has more than one person per room, often in bunk beds, with no secure place to lock up your things, usually no lease, poor conditions and unsafe overcrowding.
Rooms for rent can often be illegal as well. Rooms are most often an empty bedroom or basement in a lease holding tenant’s home. Every landlord does not allow for subleases, so it is important to ask for a lease when considering a room for rent – the arrangements they are offering may not be legal and may put you in danger in the event of an emergency.
It’s important to know that room finders are for profit businesses. The Coalition has received many complaints from clients that they paid money to get help finding a room, but were not ultimately placed in a room. If you give a room finding service money, be prepared that there is a possibility you may not be directed to a room and may not be able to get your money back.
Are three-quarter houses & rooms safe?
Living in a basement or an illegally occupied dwelling could put you at risk in event of an emergency. Multiple three-quarter houses have been shut down by the city for fire safety and code violations.
Dozens of shelter residents who moved to three-quarter houses and rooms have had to come back to shelter.
Can I be forced to take a three-quarter house or room?
Go see any housing option offered by shelter staff and write down what you see. Get the address.
If you believe the home is illegally occupied and the program or primary tenant cannot provide you with a lease, let the shelter staff know, in writing, that you don’t believe that it is legal to rent the room and are therefore uncomfortable with the placement.
Ask to see the unit you will live in before you move in. If the landlord or shelter cannot arrange for you to see the room, write this down and ask the shelter staff to include this in your file. You are not required to accept a housing option you have never seen.
If you have other concerns about a room, come to the Crisis Intervention Program and talk to an advocate before you decide to move in. Let your case manager know you can’t make a decision until you talk with an advocate.
Download the know your rights fliers for three-quarter houses and rooms. If you need assistance with pressure from the shelter to accept a three-quarter house or room placement, come into the Crisis Intervention Program.
If you are currently living in a three quarter house and want more information about your rights contact MFY Legal Services Three-Quarter House Project.
Extreme Cold - Code Blue
What is Code Blue?
The Department of Homeless Services has a policy called “Code Blue” for winter nights when the temperature drops to 32 degrees or below, including wind-chill, between 4:00 PM and 8:00 AM.
What Changes When Code Blue is in Effect?
On these nights Department of Homeless Services policies are relaxed to ensure everyone is warm and safe. This includes:
- Drop in centers are required to take as many clients as possible, within the Department of Buildings restrictions.
- Anyone in need of a place to go can walk into single adult or family shelters, without undergoing typical intake and eligibility procedures for the night in question.
- Clients can access any shelter, not just their assigned shelter for the night in question.
- Warming buses may be provided.
- More outreach teams will be on the streets to offer services and shelter.
- No shelter suspensions or sanctions can be carried out on these dates, clients who have been sanctioned can return to the shelter for the night in question, if necessary.
- Anyone in need of a warm place to go can walk into hospital emergency room.
Extreme Heat - Code Red
What is Code Red?
The Department of Homeless Services has a policy called “Code Red” for extreme heat. Code Red Level 1 is in effect from 12pm-8pm when forecasted high temperatures reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for one day or more, or are forecasted to reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit or higher at any point for two consecutive days or more. Code Red Level 2 declaration occurs when forecasted high temperatures reach 105 degrees or more Fahrenheit for any duration or are forecasted to reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit for four days or more, and is in effect continually for the duration of the extreme heat.
What changes when Code Red is in effect?
- Drop-in centers are required to take as many clients as possible.
- Anyone in need of a place to go can walk into shelters, without undergoing typical intake and eligibility procedures for the night in question. For single adults who have been in shelter in the past this includes that clients can access any shelter, not just their assigned shelter for the night in question.
- Cooling vans or centers may be provided.
- More outreach teams will be on the streets to offer services and shelter.
- No shelter suspensions or sanctions can be carried out, and clients who have been sanctioned can return to the shelter for the night in question, if necessary.
- Anyone in need of a cool place to go can walk into hospital emergency room.
Your shelter placement should be safe, healthy and well maintained. If you have concerns regarding the maintenance of your shelter, first tell a shelter staff member about your concerns and write down their response. If conditions do not improve or they are fixed only temporarily, take a few notes including when the problem first began, what the shelter staff have said when you have asked for help, any health problems you or your family have had because of the conditions, and the status of the problem now. Then come in to see an advocate in the Crisis Intervention Program. Your notes are not required, but these details help us to advocate on your behalf.
Typically, new applications for public assistance benefits take 30-45 days to be approved. If you are without any food or resources when you apply for public assistance or food stamps, you have the right to request emergency assistance. Tell your case worker that you are homeless, your income is very low, and it is an emergency that you receive help now.
Public Assistance Application without Identification
If you are in need of public assistance benefits, but do not have identification, a number of lawsuits guarantee you the right to submit an application. The Human Resources Administration must help you to secure the documents they need to open your case. Tell the worker you meet with that you are homeless and do not have access to documentation of your identity. Ask for their help in securing this documentation.
Fair Hearing Requests and Aid to Continue
If you believe HRA or DHS has made an error in determining your eligibility for assistance, or for the amount of a grant, you can request a fair hearing with a representative of the State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance. It may take time for your hearing to be scheduled. When requesting a fair hearing make sure to request “Aid to Continue” if you were receiving benefits and they were cut off. If granted, Aid to Continue, will allow you to continue receiving your benefits while you are waiting for your hearing. If you need advice about your public assistance benefits or request for Aid to Continue, please come in to see an advocate in the Crisis Intervention Program.
You can file for a fair hearing by any of the means listed below:
14 Boreum Place
Take the 2,3,4,5, N or R trains to Court Street or Brooklyn Borough Hall
By Phone: 1 (800) 342-3334
By Fax: 518-473-6735 ( the form below should be printed and faxed)
By Mail: Office of Administrative Hearings, P.O. Box 1930, Albany, NY 12201-1930
Online Form: Click Here
DHS, HRA and other City and State agencies have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities including modifications to policies or procedures when necessary. Examples of accommodations include flexible scheduling of appointments, access to interpreters, assistance with reading and completing forms, and bed passes. If you need an accommodation, you can make a verbal request by talking to your case manager in the shelter or at HRA.
Searching for an Apartment
Please note that New York City law explicitly prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of lawful source of income, including rental subsidies – meaning it is illegal for landlords to turn you away just because you would pay rent with a voucher such as CityFHEPS, FHEPS or Section 8. If you believe that you have experienced this type of housing discrimination, please report it through one of these resources:
- Contact the NYC Human Resources Administration’s Source of Income Unit at 929-221-6576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- File a complaint with the NYC Commission on Human Rights through this online form or by calling 311 or 212-306-7450.
- Call the Fair Housing Justice Center at 212–400-8201 or toll-free at 1-866-350-FHJC.
In 1984, Coalition for the Homeless filed the lawsuit Pitts v. Black, which guaranteed the right to vote for homeless New Yorkers living in shelter, on the street, or in welfare hotels.
What do I need when I go to vote?
Nothing. Arrive at your poll site on election day. As long as you registered to vote before that year’s deadline, you do not need to show identification in order to vote. You can vote in the district where you now live, even if you registered to vote or previously voted in a different neighborhood. For more information about your poll site, contact the NYC Board of Elections at 1-866-VOTE-NYC.
What should I do when I enter the poll site?
At the poll site, you will see tables and voting machines set up for your election district and others. At the table for your district, you will be asked to sign next to a facsimile of your signature on an alphabetized, computerized polling list. If your name does not appear on the roster, ask for an affidavit or paper ballot.
Can I vote if I have committed a felony or am currently on parole?
- If you have committed a felony and have finished your sentence: Your rights have been reinstated and you are eligible to register and vote in this year’s election.
- If you are currently on parole: Some people on parole can vote, some cannot. If you are unsure, you can check your status online at voting.nyc. Even if you are currently not able to vote, you will regain your right to vote at the end of your parole period, and you may register and vote at that time.
What if I have trouble trying to vote?
If your name does not appear on the computerized polling list or you are told that you are not eligible to vote, ask for an affidavit or paper ballot. After each election day, the Board of Elections will check its records, and your vote will be counted if you are indeed eligible to vote. If not, you will receive a notice that you are not eligible, along with a registration application for future elections. You may also call one of the numbers listed below for assistance on the day of the election.
For more information or assistance, contact:
NYC Board of Elections: 1-866-VOTE-NYC (toll-free)
NYPIRG: 212-349-6460 x1166
Coalition for the Homeless: 212-776-2003