Department of Homeless Services311Search all websites

DHS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

DHS employee attending to clients

Click a question or press the enter key on a question to reveal its answer.

Who does DHS serve?

The Department of Homeless Services (DHS) tailors services to a variety of different populations of clients. While we work with households in the community to prevent homelessness before it begins, we also provide temporary emergency shelter to the following groups:

Families with Children
  • Families with children younger than 18 years of age
  • Pregnant women
  • Families with a pregnant woman
Adult Families
  • Familes that do not include children younger than 18 years of age, including adult siblings and couples
Single Adults
  • Single adult men
  • Single adult women

In addition, DHS also serves New Yorkers who are living unsheltered on the streets. Outreach teams are deployed 24 hours a day, seven days a week citywide to engage these individuals and encourage them to move indoors.

Where can New Yorkers apply for shelter?

Before any New Yorker can enter shelter, he or she must first apply at the intake center that is designated for his or her family composition:

Families with Children
  • Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH), 151 E. 151st Street, Bronx, NY 10451
Adult Families
  • Adult Family Intake Center (AFIC), 400-430 E. 30th Street, New York, NY 10016
Single Adults
  • Single Adult Men: 30th Street Intake Center, 400-430 East 30th Street, New York, NY 10016
  • Single Adult Women
    • HELP Women's Shelter, 116 Williams Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217 or
    • Franklin Shelter, 1122 Franklin Avenue, Bronx, NY 10456

What documents are required to apply?

All families and individuals applying for shelter must have valid original identification, such as:
  • A welfare ID card
  • Green card
  • Driver's license
  • Passport or visa
  • Picture employment card
If clients do not have a picture ID to prove their identities, documents that may generally be used include:
  • A birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Medicaid card
  • Identity card in the public assistance system
  • Pay stub
In addition, all applicants should also bring documents that demonstrate proof of their recent places of residence, such as:
  • Eviction papers or marshal's notice
  • Leases
  • Con Edison or telephone bills
  • Pay stubs or proof of income

How does the application process work for families who are seeking shelter?

The eligibility process is designed to ensure that resources are being preserved for those in need, and that families with housing alternatives can remain stably housed in the community. Families with children seeking shelter must apply at the Prevention Assistance & Temporary Housing (PATH) family intake center in the Bronx. There, they will first be interviewed by a Human Resources Administration (HRA) caseworker, who will ask questions about their living situation and explain the services that may help them avoid shelter entirely, 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 it is determined that these services do not apply to a family's specific circumstances, they will be interviewed by a family worker to find out whether they are eligible for shelter. Families may be assigned a conditional shelter placement while DHS investigates whether they have any available housing options besides shelter. Conditional placements may last for up to 10 days, while field specialists visit the homes of family, friends, and people with whom the family resided to verify information provided during the interview. Out of this investigation, families are determined eligible or ineligible for shelter, based on whether they have fully completed the application and have no other place to go.

Download the PATH brochure

Every household has a right to a legal conference at PATH if they are found ineligible and disagree with the decision. In addition, the household has 60 days after being found ineligible to request a Fair Hearing from New York State. DHS' findings of eligibility have been upheld 98 percent of the time at these hearings.

If I encounter an individual on the streets that I believe to be homeless, how can I help?

If you see someone you believe to be street homeless, the best course of action is submit the information via 311. By using the app or calling the hotline and reporting the presence of that individual, you will be helping our outreach teams offer services to that person.

Download the 311 app

View a list of DHS' intake centers and 24-hour drop-in centers

Providing food or money to individuals on the streets may have the unintended consequence of sustaining their state of homelessness. We ask New Yorkers to refrain from such handouts and instead call 311.

What do I do if I'm being evicted or know someone who is?

If you are facing eviction, you may receive assistance through the Homebase homelessness prevention network. We have locations in community districts throughout the five boroughs; you can find your nearest Homebase site at 311 Online or your can download the Homebase map.

Additionally, the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) can assist tenants who have legal possession of an apartment, or applicants who have been evicted but whose landlords are willing to continue renting the apartment, by paying their arrears through a rental arrears grant. Contact a HRA Job Center to apply.

In addition, if you are facing eviction, you may have access to free legal assistance through HRA's Office of Civil Justice (OCJ). More information can be found here:

Who can I call if I'm experiencing domestic or community violence or know someone who is?

Domestic violence does not have to be physical abuse; it can also be psychological, sexual, emotional, or financial. For families and individuals who are at-risk of homelessness due to such mistreatment, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and Human Resources Administration (HRA) provide confidential services to help.

Victims of domestic violence may receive temporary housing, emergency shelter and supportive services for themselves and their children. All programs provide a safe environment as well as counseling, advocacy and referral services.

Domestic violence and abuse can include:

  • Hitting, slapping, kicking or using any other kind of physical violence against you
  • Forcing you to have sex when you don't want to, or to do sexual things you don't want to do
  • Threatening to hurt you, your children, or someone else you care about
  • Constantly insulting and criticizing you
  • Stalking, obsessively checking up on or otherwise trying to control your behavior
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing this kind of behavior from a partner, please call New York City's 24 hour Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-621-HOPE.

How does DHS decide where to open shelters?

DHS has a legal mandate to provide shelter for families and individuals who do not have housing alternatives available to them. To achieve this aim, we maintain an open-ended Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which allows the agency to expand and contract as needed, based on capacity needs. Through this RFP, nonprofit providers can submit proposals at any time to be evaluated. If accepted, these proposals move forward and the site is opened. Learn more about contracts and procurement

How can I volunteer or get more involved with DHS clients?

Every January, thousands of volunteers are needed to conduct the City's annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE). By participating in the one-night survey, you will help the City allocate resources to where they are needed most.

Why are homelessness prevention efforts so important to the agency?

DHS feels that New Yorkers are best served in their communities and strives to prevent homelessness whenever possible through the Homebase prevention network. Through the program, the agency assists families and individuals in overcoming immediate housing problems that could result in becoming homeless, and helps clients develop plans for long-term housing stability. Program services are crafted to meet the unique needs of each individual family and are coordinated through Homebase case managers. Visit our Homebase page for a list of services and to access a map of Homebase locations in the community.

How does DHS promote security onsite?

DHS strives to make shelter a safe environment for all clients, so that they can receive the services they need to move back to independent living. In 1993, DHS established Peace Officers, a group of uniformed officers, to support the agency's core mission and promote security within City-run and contracted facilities. Over the years, this group has not only been highly effective at keeping order, but also has revolutionized methods of policing within a social services framework. Living by the motto, "policing with compassion," DHS' Peace Officers must regularly balance law enforcement duties with a helping hand or friendly smile-understanding that clients in shelter are often households in crisis.

Is there any assistance available for people who are experiencing homelessness in New York City, but have housing options available in other locales?

Yes. Through Project Reconnect, DHS provides one-way travel assistance by train, bus, or airline to clients who are experiencing homelessness in New York, and who have housing options or employment opportunities available to them in other cities (domestic or international). The program is voluntary, and often can help families or individuals return to their hometowns, where they have pre-established networks of support. Download the Project Reconnect brochure

How is DHS different from other homelessness organizations across the nation?

Governed by a unique "right to shelter" mandate, New York City is required to provide shelter to families and individuals who lack housing alternatives. Because of this mandate, no one is ever put on a waiting list or turned away due to lack of capacity. Comprising more than 2,000 employees, DHS remains one of the largest organizations of its kind committed to preventing and addressing homelessness across the five boroughs. As the agency furthers this mission, it employs a variety of innovative homelessness prevention strategies, aimed to help families and individuals remain housed in the community as much as possible.