A recent report from Empire Justice Center explores the connections between inadequate public assistance shelter and fuel allowances and homelessness. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development reports that between 2013 and 2014, New York experienced the largest increase in homelessness of any state in the nation. The report suggests a link between the continued rise in the number of homeless families and the insufficient housing allowances given to families receiving public assistance.
Shelter allowances have not been increased since 2003 for families with children and for single adults or childless couples, shelter allowances are based on levels unchanged since 1988. According to HUD, Fair Market Rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in Nassau County is $1,249 per month. The public assistance shelter allowance for a family of 3 in Nassau is only $445 per month which only covers about 35% of the rental expenses, leaving families to come up with the difference, find other housing, or face eviction. Increasing the shelter allowances to keep families in their homes is more cost effective than providing shelter for a homeless family, especially during prolonged periods of homelessness
In addition to lower than adequate shelter amounts, for those responsible for paying heating costs not included in their rent, fuel allowances have not changed since 1987. Oil prices are currently double what they were in 1990 and at one point reached triple that amount. Natural gas has also nearly doubled since 1990. While programs such as HEAP can provide some additional support, many households may still need additional resources to make it through the winter months.
The report calls for an increase in shelter allowances to 50 percent of fair market rents and an increase in heating allowances that are also proportionate to market rates. Empire Justice Center recommends these rates be examined more regularly so allowances can be updates as necessary.
HWCLI’s first 2016 Membership Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, 2016 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm at Marcum, LLP (10 Melville Park Rd, Melville, NY 11747).
Please register by clicking here.
Ron Deutsch from Fiscal Policy Institute will be presenting on the New York State Budget and Advocate’s Policy Agenda.
HWCLI thanks Marcum for their continued partnership and use of their board room!
Lunch will be served.
While the economy is looking better, it is still nearly impossible for poor and working families to make ends meet. According to a report by The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank, Long Island ranks as the second most expensive place in the nation. In Nassau and Suffolk Counties, it costs $103,606 for a family of four to pay for basic living expenses. This serves as a painful reminder that many Long Islanders are unable to meet their basic monthly expenses and foregoing needs for themselves or their children such as food and critical health care.
January 1, 2016 marks the return in many areas of 3 month time limits on SNAP benefits for unemployed, adults 18-49 who are not disabled or raising minor children. These individuals are limited to 3 months of SNAP benefits in a 36 month period unless they are working or participating in a training program at least 20 hours a week. States are not required to provide work placement or training program opportunities for these individuals and job search efforts are not considered an exemption from the rules. As a result, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates more than 500,000 adults will be impacted by the changes and as many as 1 million adults could lose their SNAP benefits in the next few months. It is also estimated that 40% of these affected adults live in suburban areas. The chart below from CBPP illustrates other characteristics of this population
While some areas of New York continue to qualify for waivers based on unemployment rates, waivers in Nassau and Suffolk ended December 31, 2015. The burden now falls on the local Department of Social Services to identify these individuals, determine if they are eligible for an exemption, and if they do not, determine for each month if they worked or participated in a training program for at least 20 hours. This information would typically not be found in the individuals case file and would require collecting more information to make a proper determination. HWCLI is working with our clients to ensure that no one is improperly identified and loses benefits and to track the number of individuals in our area that are impacted by these changes. Click here for more information from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities about the time limits and those that will be most impacted.
Amid rumors of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids across the country, those who work in the immigration realm aim to dispel misunderstandings about the process, and clarify who is actually being targeted.
Patrick Young, Esq. of CARACEN and writer for Long Island Wins provides an overview and explanation of what is happening across the country and Long Island in these two blog post:
The Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began raids to deport Central American migrants seeking refuge in the U.S., which may have impacts on individuals and families on Long Island.
Long Island Wins provided the following information and advice:
Emergency Alert: Today the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforment (ICE) began raids in different parts of the country, including Brentwood, Long Island. DHS and ICE are targeting people with final removal orders issued by an immigration judge and possibly families who have fled violence in Central America and arrived in the US since January 2014. This could affect approximately 100,000 families nationwide including families on Long Island.
It is crucial that at this time families prepare themselves with the following actions:
- Know your rights if ICE comes to your door:
- Do not open the doors. ICE cannot come in without a signed warrant or if you let them in. Tell them to pass the warrant under the door before you open.
- Remain silent. ICE can use anything you say against you in your immigration case so claim your right to remain silent. Say “I plead the fifth amendment and choose to remain silent”.
- Do not sign. Don’t sign anything ICE gives you without talking to an attorney.
- Report when a raid is happening: If you or someone you know experiences a raid, please call 1-844-363-1423 and report it. You can also text alerts watch ICE to 877877. Take pictures, video and notes: badge numbers, number of agents, exactly what happened.
- Sanctuary: Become familiar with the churches that have agreed to provide sanctuary to targeted immigrants and help spread the word.
- If detained, get a trust worthy attorney and explore all options to fight your case. Even detained you may be able to get bail – don’t give up hope!
Additional information provided by the Public New Service can be found here.
Text and infographic credit to Long Island Wins
“Caution” featured image credit: John Hood, Caltrans/Wikimedia Commons