Court Ruling Puts 12,000 Formerly Homeless Families at Imminent Risk of Eviction -- Join Us In Taking Action
This spring during the state budget deliberations, Governor Cuomo stated his intention to eliminate the $35 million in funding support for New York City's "Advantage" program -- a $200 million dollar program which provided rental subsidies to formerly homeless families with a working head of household for up to 2 years if the family met certain income requirements. Though the program was clearly short term and flawed (1/3rd of the participating families were becoming homeless again after the two-year subsidy), the program did provide crucial temporary relief to thousands of families that qualified for it.
After Governor Cuomo made clear his intention to cut all state funding to the program, Mayor Bloomberg announced that, as of April 1st, his administration would unilaterally cancel all of its agreements with the 17,000 families receiving this housing subsidy (as of April 1) --- virtually assuring that many of these families would become homeless again. Thanks to intervention by the Legal Aid Society through a series of legal actions, the Bloomberg administration was prohibited from voiding these agreements pending a September court ruling.
On September 13, Justice Judith Gische ruled that " the Advantage program, no matter how laudable its goals, is nothing more than a social benefit program, which defendants had the right to terminate" and that New York City City "has no obligation, contractual or otherwise to continue the Advantage Program and (Legal Aid's) the complaint should be dismissed". More below:
Pursuant to an appellate injunction that is in place, the City is covering rent under the Advantage program for October. That would prevent the 12 thousand families remaining in the program (as of September 1) from being evicted. Despite this appeal still in place, the Interfaith Assembly has been getting reports from some of the formerly homeless members of our community that landlords have already begun issuing eviction orders.
Legal Aid counsel for people facing possible eviction due to loss of funding for their Advantage vouchers:
The Interfaith Assembly, the East Side Congregations For Housing Justice and our Faith Community Allies are working with the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless to determine what New York's Faith Leaders and other concerned New Yorkers can do to advocate for the welfare of the 12,000 homeless families who now depend on the Advantage program to keep their housing - and the future of the nearly 30,000 men, women and children now in shelters for whom there is no plan to help them secure housing. We will be advising you in the next few days of our recommendations for action on these important issues. We look forward to working with you to make a difference.