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Mayor Adams Launches Pilot to Rapidly Connect Families Fleeing Domestic Violence With Permanent Housing

April 15, 2024

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"Project Home" Will Provide Intensive Permanent Housing Search Assistance to Domestic Violence Survivors With Children Living in City Shelters

Advances Mayor Adams' "Women Forward NYC" Initiative, 2024 State of the City Commitment to Make NYC a National Leader on Gender Equity

Mayor Adams Also Expands Eligibility for Supportive and Affordable Housing to Include Survivors of Domestic Violence

New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Wasow Park today announced "Project Home," a pilot program to provide intensive, specialized housing search assistance to domestic violence survivors with children living in city shelters. Beginning with 100 families, Project Home will help domestic violence survivors find safe, permanent homes and reduce the amount of time spent in shelter. Launched in partnership with New Destiny Housing — a nonprofit that provides housing and services to domestic violence survivors and their families — the pilot is funded with a $300,000 grant from the NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness. Mayor Adams also today announced expansions to eligibility for supportive and affordable housing units for survivors of domestic violence, minimizing the amount of time survivors spend in shelter and significantly increasing the permanent housing options available to them. These eligibility expansions undo unnecessary bureaucratic rules that have historically made domestic violence survivors ineligible for New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) supportive housing or New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) affordable housing and expands the pool of homes available to this vulnerable population.

"Everyone deserves to be safe in their relationships and live a life free of domestic and gender-based violence," said Mayor Adams. "But for too many New Yorkers, home is no longer safe and, too often, domestic violence survivors end up in shelters as they are forced to leave their homes. Today, we are giving survivors hope with Project Home, a pilot program to provide housing assistance to domestic violence survivors living in shelter. We're also announcing expanded eligibility for supportive and affordable housing for survivors, helping families move into permanent housing faster. This announcement builds on our work to deliver a safer city for all New Yorkers, especially domestic violence survivors, and is another commitment delivered from part of our 'Women Forward NYC' initiative — a more than $43 million investment that addresses the needs of women across the five boroughs."

"For families that have experienced domestic violence, shortening the steps needed to secure a safe, stable home is critical," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. "This new pilot will provide specialized support to those families and lessen the time spent in shelter before moving to permanent housing. As we continue to fight for a world free from domestic violence, we are taking action to support survivors today."

"Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for New York families entering the shelter system, further upending a survivor's ability to heal and build community in a permanent home. To show the Adams administration's commitment to tackling the issue of family homelessness head on, we set a goal of increasing the number of families with children existing shelter into permanent housing by 25 percent," said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. "I thank the Department of Homeless Services and New Housing Destiny, a trusted community partner, for supporting our goals to bring domestic violence survivors and their children in shelter back into local communities through housing search assistance."

"We know that domestic violence is a primary driver of homelessness in New York City, and we recognize the critical importance of not only minimizing the amount of time survivors spend in temporary housing but ensuring that they are positioned for long-term stability," said DSS Commissioner Park. "With Project Home, we are proud to partner with New Destiny Housing to test a new approach to connecting survivors in city shelters to the support they need to effectively navigate the housing process and acclimate to their new home as they continue to heal and recover. By concurrently working to expand access to supportive housing and affordable units for survivors, we are also increasing the stock of housing available to them which will further expedite connections to safe and affordable permanent housing."

"We cannot over emphasize how important safe, stable housing is for domestic violence survivors trying to move forward from experiences of abuse," said Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) Acting Commissioner Saloni Sethi. "We see daily how critical housing is to survivors' ability to heal, and we are grateful to have a long-standing partnership with New Destiny, an organization that is unparalleled in its commitment to helping survivors access permanent housing. ENDGBV is excited that Project Home will build upon the success we had partnering with New Destiny to offer housing navigation services to survivors through the city's Emergency Housing Voucher Program, and through stationing their rapid rehousing program, HousingLink, at our Family Justice Centers. We are thrilled to extend this much-needed resource to families within the homeless shelter system who have experienced domestic violence. We look forward to supporting DSS and New Destiny in furthering this work on behalf of survivors."

"Access to safe, permanent housing is crucial to wellbeing," said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. "Everyone deserves a home and the work to build connections for neighbors with diverse needs – like Project Home – will help support a healthier New York City for all."

One hundred families staying in New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible households, comprised of those in shelters as a result of domestic violence. The participating families will be directly connected to a specialized housing navigator — trained in the challenging dynamics of domestic violence as well as affordable housing — who will work closely with each participating family to quickly secure permanent housing. They will identify appropriate apartments from trusted landlords, advocate on behalf of the family with landlords and brokers, and assist with applications, with the goal of minimizing the amount of time each family spends in shelter.

To ensure families remain stably housed for the long term, this pilot will include an aftercare coordinator to provide light-touch services after families move out of shelter. These light-touch services will include financial coaching; connecting families to new doctors, schools, childcare, and other resources in their new neighborhood; and linking families to counseling to help survivors recover from the traumas of homelessness and domestic abuse. The aftercare coordinator will also assist families in obtaining or maintaining government benefits. Aftercare services will be available to families for up to one year after they move into their new home and are supported by a grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Currently, residents of New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) Domestic Violence Shelters are ineligible for HPD units, which are set aside for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, as eligibility is based strictly on stays in DHS shelters. To eliminate this unnecessary discrepancy between the two systems and expand access to affordable housing for a vulnerable population, DSS and HPD will allow clients in HRA shelters to apply directly for these units, ultimately shortening their stays in shelter. Additionally, in partnership with DOHMH, DSS will expand eligibility for city-supportive housing, which currently provides rental assistance and on-site supportive services to individuals and families struggling with homelessness and serious behavioral health challenges, to also include survivors of domestic violence and their families. These families will have access to on-site services to help them maintain stability.

"New Destiny's work providing federal Emergency Housing Vouchers to domestic violence survivors showed how effective housing navigation is as a tool for quickly and efficiently moving homeless families into stable housing. We're excited to partner with the city to pilot these services for 100 survivors and their families in the shelter system so they can find permanent homes with the aftercare support they need to stay housed and rebuild their lives," said Nicole Branca, executive director, New Destiny Housing. "We are also incredibly glad to see the city heed the calls of domestic violence survivors and advocates by allowing survivors to live in New York City supportive housing and expanding their access to HPD set-asides. These policy changes will end the cycle of housing instability and abuse for so many survivors and their children, including our most vulnerable families who have needed the additional supports that come with supportive housing."

"The NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness believes all New Yorkers need the safety and dignity of a stable home. We applaud the City of New York for moving towards that north star by investing in rental assistance to help those of us who are struggling to get by to find permanent homes," said John Kimble, senior advisor, NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness. "We stand in awe of the grit and determination of the families participating in Project Home, who are securing better lives for themselves and their children as they overcome enormous adversity. New York is safer and stronger when all its children and families have a place to call home, and the Fund is proud to be investing with the city in that future."

"New Destiny Housing has created the right set of specialists on their team to help families experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence to navigate the challenges of finding housing, and then, in turn, to continue offering them support through the fragile transition to stabilize their lives," said Tracy Perrizo, program officer, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. "Housing is foundational to both physical and mental health, and we are inspired by New Destiny's success and Commissioner Park's recognition of their model in her efforts to continue to improve housing and services for all New Yorkers."

The initial phase of Project Home will last approximately one year, during which families will receive dedicated assistance from New Destiny Housing Navigators during the housing search and aftercare support once they move into their new homes. Following the placement of all families, DSS will conduct a robust evaluation of the results of the pilot, including its ability to shorten shelter stays, place families in new homes, and help those families stay stably housed. To ensure an accurate and rigorous analysis of the pilot, eligible families will be randomly assigned to Project Home and the results will be compared against the outcomes of other similarly situated families receiving standard housing placement assistance during the same time frame.

Project Home is one of the many programs included in "Women Forward NYC: An Action Plan for Gender Equity," a more than $43 million investment aimed at making New York City a national leader on gender equity, including for transgender and gender expansive New Yorkers, with the ambitious goal of becoming the most women-forward city in the United States. Supported through city dollars, private and public partnerships, academic institutions, and federal grant funding, the action plan addresses gender disparities by connecting women to professional development and higher-paying jobs; dismantling barriers to sexual, reproductive, and chronic health care; reducing gender-based violence against women; and providing holistic housing services, including for formerly incarcerated women and domestic and gender-based violence survivors.
"'Project Home' imagines a city where all women have safety and security," said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. "This new initiative will turn one of the most vulnerable moments in the lives of domestic violence survivors to one of empowerment by giving them unprecedented support to find permanent housing, accelerating the process of moving out of the shelter system. In my legal career, I have fought for housing and employment rights for domestic violence survivors and witnessed firsthand how economic independence helped women break free from the cycle of violence and stand gloriously in their new power. I look forward to partnering with Mayor Adams and Commissioner Park to support survivors of domestic violence across our city."

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