From City Limits <[email protected]>
Subject New York's DV-to-DHS Shelter Pipeline
Date September 13, 2022 4:39 PM
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Hundreds of Families Forced from Domestic Violence Shelters into Strained DHS System Each Year
In late January, after years of abuse and harassment, L. decided to leave her ex behind and make a new start far from The Bronx neighborhood where they both lived. L., who asked to go by her first initial to protect her identity, checked into a domestic violence shelter and, a little less than three months later, received a rental voucher from the state.

But so far, her housing search has hit nothing but dead ends. She said she viewed 10 apartments and applied for dozens more, but has yet to find a landlord or broker willing to return her calls or emails, let alone offer her a unit once they learn she has a housing voucher. Her applications for city-financed affordable housing lotteries have similarly gone nowhere, she said.

“I’m just trying to hold it together,” she told City Limits. “I just really need help and I just need a place to live right now.”

But the clock is ticking for L. and her son. State law caps stays in domestic violence shelters at 180 days, though the family managed to get an extension in July. If she is forced to leave before securing an apartment, L. said her next stop will likely be the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system—a network of facilities now stretched beyond capacity by a dramatic rise in unhoused residents, many of them recently arrived immigrants.

L.’s experience is typical for families in New York City domestic violence shelters. According to annual reports compiled by the city’s Human Resources Administration (HRA), 1,553 families who left the specialized shelters over the past two years immediately entered the strained DHS system. During that same period, the average length of stay in DHS family shelters reached nearly 18 months.

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