Governor Cuomo’s proposed Advantage cut: an opportunity for reform

Three years after its inception, alarming new evidence shows how the Bloomberg administration’s flawed Advantage program is forcing rising numbers of formerly-homeless New York City children and families back into homelessness. Among the most troubling findings in recently obtained City data are the following:

One of every four former Advantage families, who are no longer receiving rental assistance, has returned to the municipal shelter system.

One of every three former Advantage families has applied for emergency shelter.

• An accelerating number of former Advantage households are seeking emergency shelter, with an average of 213 applications filed each month in 2010, compared to an average of 86 such applications each month in 2009.

This alarming City data emerges during a critical opportunity to reform New York’s failed approach to family homelessness. Governor Cuomo’s budget proposes to cut the State’s share of funding for the Advantage program by $35 million. With this, the State has offered the City a chance to abandon a failed program. In light of this new data, we urge the City to do just that.

We have released a new report documenting the failures of the Advantage program and propose that the City replace Advantage with targeted Federal housing assistance– a technique that is both more cost-effective and successful in addressing homelessness. Indeed, it would not cost the State or City an extra dime and could be implemented tomorrow if the Mayor’s administration chose to do so.

Please read our full report documenting the alarming new data on the Advantage program here.

Additionally, our testimony before the New York State Legislature on the Governor’s budget can be read here. Attachments to the testimony can be found here.