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13 April 2010

Charge Rent to Homeless With Jobs

via Gothamist by Jaya Saxena on 4/13/10

Flickr user J. Yung
Homeless shelter residents with jobs will have to start paying rent later this year, thanks to a new plan to end "open-ended handouts" from the city. Though the city hopes that this will encourage residents to save money and move out, critics say the plan would keep the homeless from saving enough. According to the Daily News, residents would have to pay 30% of their gross income as rent in the first year of the program, and the highest of either 30% of the resident's income or 50% of the cost of their housing the second year.

The plan would likely start in September, earning an estimated $2-3 million a year. Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs said, "This is not a moneymaker. We're not doing this to close budget gaps. It's really the principles that are involved." The city tried to implement a plan like this before since state law actually requires New York to charge rent to shelter residents who can afford it, but the Legal Aid Society threatened to sue the city. They're doing the same this time around, saying the plan won't benefit anyone. "It makes far more sense to allow those families to save their meager funds in order to be able to get out of the shelter system sooner," said Steven Banks, chief attorney of the Legal Aid Society. The prices do seem pretty steep. Though a family of three making $10,000 a year would just pay $36 a month in rent, one making $25,000 would have to pay $946 in rent, which doesn't leave much for savings.

Albany is reportedly working on legislation that would reverse the law requiring workers in shelters to pay rent. Coalition for the Homeless senior analyst Patrick Markee said, "You don't balance budgets in the middle of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression on the backs of homeless families and children."

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Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

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