HOA Instructors + Sojourner Hardeman + Zena Murphy
Picture the Homeless 2427 Morris Avenue Bronx NY 10468 Phone: (646) 314-6423
Since their introduction in 2004, Picture the Homeless has been fighting to fix Bloomberg's flawed rental subsidies for homeless people. In 2007, the Administration bowed to pressure and abandoned the most problematic of these subsidies, "Housing Stability Plus" - only to replace it with another bad program that keeps homeless people in substandard, overpriced apartments. The “Advantage” programs are administered jointly by the city's Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), leading to bureaucratic ineptitude that constantly subjects subsidy recipients to the risk of eviction. DHS refused to acknowledge the plan's failures, and the Mayor continued to get good press for his homeless policies, so our members decided to prove them wrong.
Working with graduate students in urban planning, they developed a comprehensive survey to document the problems people have faced as a result of these subsidies. Then they took to the streets and surveyed more than 400 homeless and formerly homeless people, coming up with some truly staggering evidence – for example, 70% of people who received a housing subsidy had been to housing court because of problems with that subsidy, and 41% had been in rent arrears due to the city's failure to pay its portion of the rent! In 2009, we released the results of these surveys in the groundbreaking report "Time's Up: Homeless New Yorkers Demand Alternatives to Bloomberg's Failed Five Year Plan."
Moved the city to replace its completely replace its flawed “Housing Stability Plus” subsidy for homeless families.
Contributed to the rolling back of proposed Section 8 cuts by convening representatives from 27 NYC groups that work on housing and homelessness to carry out an action agenda;
Moved the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) begin holding monthly meetings, and include the participation of homeless New Yorkers, to monitor problems in the implementation of the Housing Stability Plus (HSP) program which is now the primary mechanism for homeless shelter residents to move into housing.
Pressured the Deputy Commissioner of DHS to come to our offices twice to meet with nearly 100 homeless individuals and families to respond to their questions regarding HSP.
Moved DHS to request that the State of New York expand those eligible for HSP to include homeless shelter residents not currently on welfare but still eligible as low income, including persons receiving SSI, unemployment or in low wage jobs who can’t afford market rent
Exposed substandard housing being offered to shelter residents through a press conference where families told the real story about HSP.