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Resource Desk Guide for Families in Shelter

Temporary Housing Assistance
Families with Children

Applying for Temporary Housing Assistance

What constitutes a family with children?
DHS considers families with children to be the following households:

  • Families with children younger than 21 years of age 
  • Pregnant women
  • Families with a pregnant woman

Where do families with children apply for shelter?
All families with children must apply for shelter at:

Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH)
151 East 151st Street
Bronx, NY

PATH is open 24 hours per day, including weekends and holidays.
PATH processes applications during business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

The main telephone number for PATH is (917) 521-3900.

How to Get There:
Subway: Take the 2, 4, or 5 train to 149th Street/Grand Concourse Station. Head west on E. 149th Street toward Grand Concourse. Walk north on Grand Concourse two blocks, to E. 151st Street and turn left. Walk two blocks to Walton Avenue. The PATH office is located at the corner on your right.

To learn more about PATH,
 download our brochure (in PDF) 

What do families need to bring to PATH in order to apply for shelter?
All families who are applying for shelter at PATH must have proper identification for all members of their household, such as:

  • Any form of ID with a picture and proof of age, such as welfare ID card, green card, driver's license, passport/visa, or picture employment card. 
  •  Birth certificate
  • Social security card
  • Medicaid card
  • Identity card in the Public Assistance system
  • If working, your most recent pay stub 

Family workers are available on-site to help families obtain necessary information and documents from government agencies and third parties, to the extent reasonably possible.

What if I don’t speak English?
Interpreter assistance will be made available for individuals who do not speak English.

What is involved with the application process at PATH?
Families with children must apply for shelter in order to ensure that they do not have an alternative housing option available to them. DHS firmly believes that families are best served in their communities through prevention efforts, and that they should only utilize temporary emergency shelter as a last resort when they are experiencing an immediate housing crisis.

Once a family arrives at PATH, they will first be interviewed by a Human Resources Administration (HRA) caseworker, who will inquire about their living situation and explain the services that may help them avoid entering shelter- including family mediation, anti-eviction legal services, out-of-city relocation assistance, Family Eviction Prevention Supplement (FEPS), or a one-shot deal through HRA.

If these services do not apply to a family’s specific circumstances, a DHS family worker interviews the family to obtain information about their prior living situation. Families may be assigned a temporary shelter placement for up to 10 days while DHS investigates the information provided during the interview. Based on the investigation, DHS determines whether the family is eligible or ineligible for shelter, based on whether they have fully cooperated with the application and eligibility process and/or have other housing options available to them.

What if I don’t agree with the Agency’s eligibility determination?
Every household has a right to a legal conference at PATH if they are found ineligible and disagree with the decision. In addition, they have 60 days after being found ineligible to request a Fair Hearing from New York State.

Again, the eligibility process is designed to ensure that resources are being preserved for those who are truly in need, and that families with housing alternatives can remain stably housed in the community. While shelter is a valuable resource to those in need, it should never be considered a home.

The Shelter System
What is expected of families in shelter?
DHS operates and maintains approximately 150 shelters for families with children-the majority of which are contracted through nonprofit social service providers. Once a family enters shelter, they have certain responsibilities that they must meet, including obtaining and maintaining employment for all those who are able to work.

With the assistance of their caseworkers, families will develop an Independent Living Plan (ILP), a document that outlines relevant goals to exit shelter and return to self-sufficiency. Now, more than ever, employment-focused programs and work supports remain a cornerstone of DHS' efforts to help clients move back to permanency. Through DHS' policy of Client Responsibility, families in shelter must actively participate in this process and take strides toward independent living.

Expectations for Families with Children in Shelter:

  • Cooperate in carrying out, developing and completing their ILP, which includes steps toward obtaining permanent housing 
  • Applying for Public Assistance (PA) and completing all requirements necessary for establishing and maintaining eligibility for PA benefits
  • If able to work, actively seeking employment and accepting a suitable job offer when it is offered
  • Working closely with their caseworker or housing specialist to locate and view available apartments
  • Actively seeking permanent housing by viewing available apartments several times per week

Special Initiatives
Mayor's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement
Working closely with the Department of Education (DOE), the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) strives to continually make education a priority for children in shelter. Although parents will always play the lead role in the academic futures of their kids, the agency works tirelessly to provide families with academic resources and support.

In June 2010, DHS joined other City agencies in forming the Mayor's Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism and School Engagement. Aiming to reduce chronic absences among students throughout the city, the endeavor included a special emphasis on students living in shelter. Through "Operation Start Strong, Stay Stronger," DHS implemented a pilot program at 15 family shelters to identify and target families who would benefit most from enhanced services. The initiative has resulted in increased collaboration with DOE and has guided DHS to a new culture of school attendance and success.

Fatherhood Initiative
In June 2010, DHS joined other City agencies in the Fatherhood Initiative, designed to identify and reduce barriers to fatherhood involvement. Taking strides toward these goals, DHS consistently strives to promote fatherhood involvement for dads in both the family and single adult shelter systems. From organizing father-child activities on-site, to holding classes and seminars for dads, DHS encourages fathers to be active members of the household and be a positive source of support as the family returns to self-sufficiency.

A State-of-the-Art Families Intake System
In the spring of 2011, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) opened its new Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) intake center. PATH, located in the Bronx, is a state-of-the-art and eco-friendly facility that has been specifically sized, staffed, and laid out to meet the demand for homeless services. At nearly 77,000 square feet, the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified facility measures 213 percent larger than the previous intake center. With a discreetly located medical suite, storage availability, and spacious waiting areas on each floor-complete with security kiosks and audio-visual notification systems, the center aims to engage clients and make them feel secure in their surroundings, from entry to departure.