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NEW STUDY SUGGESTS DEPARTMENT OF HOMELESS SERVICES HAS CREATED A MORE RIGID ELIGIBILITY PROCESS TO KEEP SHELTER CENSUS DOWN

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 11, 2009
Contact: Lora Wallace
Tel: (212) 358-8086
Email: lwallace@icpny.org



NEW STUDY SUGGESTS DEPARTMENT OF HOMELESS SERVICES HAS
CREATED A MORE RIGID ELIGIBILITY PROCESS TO KEEP SHELTER CENSUS DOWN

A New Report Assesses the Front Door to New York City's Family Shelter

New York, NY - A new report from the Institute for Children and Poverty, "Uncertainty at the Front Door: Homeless Families and Their 'Right to Shelter'" in New York City, questions whether a homeless family's right to shelter, legally established 23 years ago, is now in jeopardy. Department of Homeless Services data demonstrates that while first-time applicants are frequently found ineligible they do not disappear; rather they return seeking shelter again and again.

Specifically, between FY 2005 and FY 2008, while requests for shelter increased 26%, the number of repeat applications grew by 73%. Comparatively, the percentage of first-time applicants decreased by 13% from 61% in FY 2005 to 53% in FY 2008, indicating that repeat applicants, not new applicants, represent an increasing number of families at the front door. According to Meg O'Sullivan, Assistant Director at ICP, "This report takes a closer look at the front door to New York City's family shelter system to see whether a family's right to shelter is being honored."

"Uncertainty at the Front Door" also notes the city's "error rate" in the eligibility determination process as well as the growing recidivism rate, the increase in the number of families returning after one year out of shelter. Ultimately, this report's findings suggest that Department of Homeless Services has created a more rigid eligibility process at the front door in an attempt to keep the shelter census down. This report concludes that it is in fact children who are the invisible victims of flawed policies, inaccurate eligibility determinations, and housing instability.

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The Institute for Children and Poverty (ICP) is an independent non-profit research organization based in New York City. ICP studies the impact of poverty on family and child well-being and generates research that will enhance public policies and programs affecting poor or homeless children and their families. Specifically, ICP examines the condition of extreme poverty in the United States and its effect on educational attainment, housing, employment, child welfare, domestic violence, and family wellness.

Please visit our Web site for more information. www.icpny.org



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