Three in Four Family Shelter Applications Rejected in 2021, Setting Record


Homeless families are getting city decisions to deny shelter overturned in growing numbers — and applying over and over again.

Three in four applications by families seeking homeless shelter got rejected last year — the most since the Department of Homeless Services started disclosing numbers a decade ago.

Families and shelter providers describe an arduous eligibility review process that became even more unnavigable during the pandemic. The state’s public assistance agency is seeing a surge in families appealing their rejections — and a record number of cases reversing DHS decisions, ordering the city to provide families with shelter or reevaluate applications.

“The city has made it virtually impossible to get into a family shelter,” said Craig Hughes, a senior social worker at the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project.

It took seven attempts for Ms. D and her family to get approved for shelter, which only happened after a lawyer got involved, she told THE CITY. 

Ms. D, her fiancé and their 1-year-old daughter had their application repeatedly rejected starting in July because DHS investigators concluded that the family still had housing options available and could return to their previous residence — the home of her soon-to-be mother-in-law, who had already demanded they leave. 

“We told them numerous times that the person don’t want us here. The person kicked us out and there were threats involved,” said Ms. D, 27, who asked to remain anonymous. “And they still denied us.” 

Source: The city