City Retracts Plan to Charge Rent at Homeless Shelters

By Victoria Cavaliere
|  Friday, May 22, 2009  |  Updated 10:28 AM EDT
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City Retracts Plan to Charge Rent at Homeless Shelters

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Blaming a "technical glitch," the city has retracted a program to charge rent to homeless families.

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The city has stopped charging rent to homeless people who have income and live in city shelters, suspending a state-mandated program that was met with strong criticism and even threat of a lawsuit.

The 3-week-old state-mandated policy applied only to shelter residents who had income from jobs, and they could have been forced to pay up to half their earnings for room and board.

Some shelter residents said the new rule will ruin their chances of saving enough money to get an apartment.

One single mother living in a Manhattan shelter told The New York Times she got a letter saying she had to give up $336 of the $800 she makes each month as a cashier.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance spokesman Michael Hayes said in an email to 56 family shelters that “technical issues” had forced officials to shut down the program until the issues are resolved, the Times reported.

The state had required the city begin the program this month and about 2,000 families would have been covered by the new rule.

Of the roughly 500 homeless families who were meant to receive notices advising them to begin paying rent, about 190 received notices with errors, including miscalculations in the amount of rent due, Mr. Hayes said. He said the Human Resources Administration -- the city’s welfare agency -- was responsible for some of the errors, largely for some notices not getting out, the Times reported.

Steven Banks, the attorney in chief for the Legal Aid Society, threatened to sue the city over the policy, the newspaper said.
 

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