January 30, 2003
Administration For Children’s Services and NYC Housing Authority Help to Keep At-Risk Families Together
Agencies Launch Family Unification Priority Code Program
Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman Tino Hernandez recently announced the availability in New York City of the Family Unification Priority Code Program, a collaborative effort that will benefit families in the care of ACS. The program enables ACS to access Section 8 housing vouchers for qualified families whose only impediment to reunification is housing, and for families with children who are receiving preventive services and are at risk of coming into foster care because of unmet housing needs.
“The Family Unification Priority Code Program represents a tremendous step forward for children and families whose only obstacle to staying together is appropriate housing,” said Commissioner Bell. “ACS’s goal is to ensure that every child is living in a home environment that is safe and stable. With this program, in cases where a loving parent or caregiver does not have the financial means to provide suitable housing, families can remain unified and continue to grow stronger. I am grateful to NYCHA for making this critical service a priority.”
Prior to the creation of the Family Unification Priority Code Program, ACS was only able to access fewer than 900 Section 8 vouchers for families between 1991 and 2001, an amount that did not meet the needs of families that ACS served. Through this new program, ACS anticipates providing approximately 500 vouchers to families each year. Through the Family Unification Priority Code Program, ACS will be able to obtain a voucher for any qualified family served by ACS, which will help keep families together when appropriate and safe, and reduce the amount of time some children may spend in foster care.
“This cooperative effort between NYCHA and ACS creates an added opportunity for us to keep families together, under one roof,” said Chairman Hernandez. “This program fits perfectly with our mission of providing affordable housing for low-income and moderate-income New Yorkers,” he emphasized.
The vouchers are based on family size, and can be used in almost any apartment within the five boroughs. Each apartment must pass inspection by NYCHA, and generally the apartment rent must be no higher than the payment standard set by NYCHA (based on the Fair Market Rent issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Families with Section 8 vouchers usually pay 30 percent of their household income directly to the landlord. NYCHA subsidizes the landlord for the difference between the tenant's rent and the total reasonable rent approved by NYCHA, up to the payment standard.
The Family Unification Priority Code Program was developed and is managed by ACS’s Office of Housing Policy and Development (HPAD). HPAD also developed and manages a separate priority code program for adolescents in foster care with a goal of independent living who have a need for Section 8 and Public Housing units. In addition, HPAD develops transitional and permanent supportive housing for ACS clients. HPAD also provides training and technical assistance to contract agencies and the family court system on accessing rent subsidy programs, and works with private landlords and realtors to increase the availability of appropriate housing units for its families and independent living youth.
For more information on Section 8 vouchers for families or independent living adolescents served by ACS, or for information on other HPAD programs, individuals may call HPAD at 212-341-8979.
The New York City Administration for Children’s Services protects and ensures the safety and well being of New York City’s children and strengthens families. Formed in 1996, the agency oversees the City’s programs of child protection, foster care, preventive services, adoption, child support enforcement, child care and Head Start.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) provides decent and affordable housing in a safe and secure living environment for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs in 345 developments. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in qualified rental apartments. NYCHA works to enhance the quality of life at NYCHA by offering our residents social services that give them opportunities to participate in a multitude of community, educational and recreational programs, as well as job readiness and training initiatives.