NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City is offering to pay friends and family of homeless shelter residents to take them in as part of a new program — but it may be more difficult than it sounds.
Ricky Ortiz spoke with CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco. Ortiz, his wife, and their 5-month-old baby are desperate for a place to call home.
“I’m just trying to find a place for my son,” he said. “I can live on the street, but not my son.”
The same goes for Ester Findley and her three children.
“This is not my life,” she said. “I’d rather have my own apartment so my kids can be stable.”
Both families have been in and out of the city’s shelter system. With a new program called ‘Home for the Holidays,’ the Department of Homeless Services wants to place eligible homeless families with a friend or family member — and the city is willing to pay. Both the host and homeless family will receive a $500 gift card.
The host will also get rental assistance up to $1,800.
“I think it shows how desperate they are to get families out of the shelter,” former DHS Commissioner Robert Mascali said.
On paper, the proposal sounds like a great idea, but Mascali says it’s just not that easy. “There’s a tremendous amount of red tape,” he said.
Only families — selected by DHS — living in a shelter for 90 days or more can apply. The host family must include the primary tenant or owner of the residence, and cannot live in government subsidized housing.
Additionally, the added tenants must not create an overcrowding and the home will also have to be inspected by the city — and ACS if the children are under the age of 18.
In addition to those stipulations, numerous forms — including one for the IRS — must be completed.
“It could take a long time before they actually move the family out,” Mascali said.
CBS2 reached out to DHS for an on camera interview, but only received a statement in return.
“The new program is part of our work to move beyond one-size-fits-all solutions as we help homeless families find their way home,” the statement read.
Families this program would help are not hopeful.
“I don’t have nobody, just me and my wife and my son,” Ortiz said.
“Being that I’m coming with three pre-teens, I think it’s best for me to have my own instead of me trying to move in with a family or friend,” Findley said.
DHS tells CBS2 it is still receiving and processing applications for the program. The deadline to apply for this program is Dec. 31. It is unclear whether or not there will be an extension given.