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Mayor Adams Announces Progress Connecting New Yorkers in Shelter to Permanent Housing, Technology Improvements Help Boost Shelter Access

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Wasow Park today announced continued progress connecting New Yorkers living in shelter to permanent housing, with technological improvements to further streamline access to City Fighting Homelessness and Eviction Prevention (CityFHEPS) vouchers, the largest city-funded rental assistance program in the nation. CityFHEPS voucher holders will now be able to renew their CityFHEPS case and check the status of their case online using DSS’s benefits portal, ACCESS HRA and the ACCESS HRA Mobile application, ensuring long-term housing stability for CityFHEPS voucher holders. 

The Adams administration also announced that as a result of robust CityFHEPS reforms — including lifting the 90-day rule, as well as staffing, process, and training improvements — permanent housing placements from shelter using CityFHEPS vouchers have increased 10 percent during the first three months of Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) compared to the first three months of FY23. Additionally, in the two months since Mayor Adams expanded the use of CityFHEPS to obtain permanent housing in any county or locality across New York State, the city announced that 15 households are already in the process of moving or have moved to localities outside of New York City where they can now utilize CityFHEPS vouchers. 
  
“As rents continue to rise across the city and put pressure on working-class New Yorkers, this administration has made historic progress connecting New Yorkers to permanent, affordable homes,” said Mayor Adams. “From lifting the 90-day rule, to expanding CityFHEPS eligibility, to allowing New Yorkers to use CityFHEPS statewide, to continued technology investments, our work has helped connect a record number of New Yorkers to permanent housing using CityFHEPS vouchers. We’ll continue to use every tool available to move New Yorkers out of shelter and into the homes they need.” 

“Every New Yorker needs a permanent home,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “To actualize that goal, we have taken a number of steps to help people transition more quickly from shelter to housing. Today’s announcement marks additional progress with the use of technology to ease access to vouchers. Increasing and improving access has and will continue to be a priority for our administration. The changes we have made so far have helped us place more individuals and families in permanent housing. Thank you to the teams making this work possible.”  

“CityFHEPS vouchers are a critical lifeline for New Yorkers in shelter and today’s announcements demonstrate our ongoing commitment to strengthening access to the program for our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said DSS Commissioner Park. “Despite the winding down of key pandemic-related federal supports and the severe shortage of affordable housing in New York City, we continue to make vital progress connecting households in shelter to permanent housing using CityFHEPS vouchers. This administration’s robust set of reforms and key training and process improvements are clearly having an impact, and we look forward to building on this progress while also using every tool at our disposal to create stable housing opportunities for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.”  

These announcements build on the Adams administration’s record-breaking efforts to create and connect New Yorkers to safe, high-quality, permanent, affordable homes in FY23. Since taking office, the city has implemented numerous reforms to the CityFHEPS program to expeditiously facilitate exits from shelter, eliminated the 90-day minimum length of shelter stay requirement, allowed New Yorkers to use a CityFHEPS voucher anywhere in the state, and reduced the number of hours required for a family to work from 30 hours a week to 10 hours.  

With a vacancy rate for affordable housing ranging between 1 and 5 percent, many New Yorkers have had a difficult time finding an apartment even after receiving a voucher. Currently, approximately 10,000 households in shelter have qualified for a CityFHEPS voucher but are unable to use it due to a lack of housing. To address this issue, Mayor Adams has focused on cutting red tape and streamlining government processes to accelerate the production of new housing and continues to advance his “City of Yes for Housing Opportunity” proposal to create more than 100,000 homes through historic zoning changes. 

The city has also focused on technology improvements that make it easier for New Yorkers to access their benefits. Beginning this week, CityFHEPS voucher holders will be able to renew and check the status of their application online using DSS’s benefits portal ACCESS HRA and the ACCESS HRA mobile app. Featured CityFHEPS updates on the ACCESS HRA portal include: 

  • CityFHEPS Cases: CityFHEPS is being introduced into the ACCESS HRA family of benefit programs. Clients will now be able to link to their CityFHEPS case and view information about their case online. 
  • CityFHEPS Renewals: Eligible clients can now submit their CityFHEPS Renewal and upload any supporting documents using the ACCESS HRA Mobile App. 
  • CityFHEPS Good Cause Requests: Clients who are completing their fifth-and-final year of rental assistance can apply for a good cause exemption or extension during the online renewal. 
  • CityFHEPS Case Changes: Clients can download the CityFHEPS modification form to report a change in their rent, household, or income.  
  • Featured Updates in the ACCESS HRA Mobile Application: CityFHEPS case information, document status, and renewals are all fully integrated into the ACCESS HRA mobile application in addition to the client portal. 

   
Since the implementation of city-funded rental assistance in 2014, nearly 160,000 New Yorkers in over 70,000 households have been helped to move into permanent housing or remain stably housed. Currently, the CityFHEPS program alone supports 36,000 households by providing a rental subsidy. 

“The Children’s Rescue Fund applauds Mayor Adams for his commitment to strengthening the CityFHEPS program by streamlining processes, embracing technology, and breaking down barriers to assist those experiencing homelessness,” said Orlando Ivey, president and CEO, Children’s Rescue Fund. “The technological enhancements, providing our clients with real time access to their benefits and CityFHEPS case, showcases a shared commitment to tangible solutions that make a difference. Children’s Rescue Fund shares this dedication to making lasting positive changes for the unhoused in New York City, ensuring they can transition from shelter to permanent housing with dignity and hope.” 

“The new changes to the CityFHEPS system announced by Mayor Adams will bring families in shelter even more hope as they seek a permanent home,” said Mitchell Netburn, president and CEO, Samaritan Daytop Village. “Placing both the renewal process and tracking feature online is an exciting decision. We already saw a dramatic increase in the volume and rate of move outs after the 90-day waiting period was eliminated and the voucher’s portability extended beyond the five boroughs. We anticipate even greater outcomes for our clients with a renewal process that is less burdensome and time-consuming.” 

“From day one, Mayor Adams has made sure that New Yorkers with lived experience have a seat at the table as this administration worked to cut the red tape and implement wide-ranging reforms to expand access to city-funded resources for the New Yorkers who rely on them most,” said Shams Da Baron, housing and homelessness advocate. “Today we are seeing measurable progress resulting from vital steps and initiatives informed by the very people they are going to impact. The data doesn’t lie, and it gives me confidence in knowing that this administration is moving in the right direction. Thank you, Mayor Adams, for continuing to prioritize the needs of New Yorkers in shelter, and doubling-down on the city’s efforts to connect them to permanent housing.” 

December 15, 2023 New York, NY

SOURCE: NYC.govMidtown Tribune news

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