By Chau Lam
April 10, 2023
Excerpt from Original Article
A record number of homeless young adults and domestic violence survivors are moving out of shelters and into their own apartments thanks to a pandemic-era program that gave them emergency housing vouchers, according to city officials and homeless advocates.
About 280 young people moved out of shelters into a place of their own since July 2021 and another 115 are waiting to sign leases thanks to the temporary federal Emergency Housing Voucher program, said Mark Zustovich, a spokesperson for New York City Department of Youth & Community Development.
From July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020, only 88 young adults moved out of DYCD-funded shelters and support programs into permanent housing, he added.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn that followed, the Biden administration and Congress in 2021 created the temporary Emergency Housing Voucher program to help Americans find stable housing. The funding for the program lasts through 2030. The measure was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which provided $1.9 trillion in economic relief to address the impact of the pandemic. Of that sum, $5 billion went to pay for the Emergency Housing Voucher program, which provided 70,000 housing choice vouchers, commonly known as Section 8, to local public housing authorities across the country. Its purpose is to help people, including those experiencing homelessness or domestic violence, or those who are at high risk for housing instability.
Under the program, low-income residents can choose their housing and the federal government covers most of the rent, which is paid to the landlords.
New York City received 7,788 of the vouchers and all have been issued to residents in homeless shelters or who are low-income, according to William Fowler, a spokesperson for the New York City Department of Housing & Preservation Development, one of two agencies tasked with distributing them.
As of March, 5,375 households found housing, Fowler said. Of those, 4,118 households have already moved into their own homes and another 1,257 have found a place and are waiting to move in. He said about 31% of the vouchers have not been used yet. It could be that people have not found a place or they haven’t submitted their move-in paperwork, Fowler said.