2.4 Preventing Family Homelessness


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Speaker: Lauren Donelly

One of the keys to ending homelessness is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This workshop will examine the most effective strategies to prevent family homelessness, including using homelessness data to target interventions and partnering with providers serving high-risk families. Presenters will cover a wide array of services and solutions.

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2.4 Preventing Family Homelessness

  1. 1. Lauren Donnelly, Supervisor Housing Help ProgramThe Legal Aid Society2012 National Conference on Ending Family andYouth Homelessness in Los AngelesFebruary 9, 2012
  2. 2.  South Bronx is the poorest Congressional District in the U.S. 49% of all children in congressional district 16 live in poverty Highest rates of unemployment in NYC Highest rent burdens in NYC The Bronx has NYC’s highest number of evictions It also has NYC’s highest share of shelter entrants: over 40% Highest rates of shelter entry in NYC are from zip codes 10452 and 10456 in the South Bronx 2
  3. 3. Bronx HousingHelp Zip Codes10452 & 10456 = EvictionFilings = Shelterentrants 3
  4. 4. Eviction and HomelessnessMost families who are evicted and enter shelter are unable toobtain help before homelessness is imminent.Over 95% of landlords are represented by an attorney in HousingCourt, while over 90% of tenants are not. This tenantdisadvantage contributes to eviction because: tenants lack an understanding of the law, legal notices,proceedings and defenses; are intimidated by the legal process; and/or are unable to effectively negotiate with the landlord’s attorney. 4
  5. 5. For many tenants, Housing Court is thelast stop before entering shelter.Bronx Housing Court is the busiestHousing Court in NYC. In 2011:∼ 80,000 eviction petitions filed∼ 90,000 applications to stop evictionsCourt is committed to collaborativerelationships with City and Stateagencies and community-basedorganizations to prevent homelessness 5
  6. 6.  The Housing Help Program (HHP) was developed to prevent homelessness by providing legal and social services directly from the courthouse. The initial pilot was funded by the United Way 6
  7. 7.  The program is based in Housing Court HHP cases are heard by two judges who are dedicated to the program. Staffed by lawyers, paralegals and social workers HHP is subject to rigorous evaluation 7
  8. 8.  Provides services from the moment the tenant appears in Housing Court and is automatically referred to HHP when they first come to court. All tenants facing eviction meet with HHP staff HHP tenants have access to a broad spectrum of social services during and after the case
  9. 9.  HHP targets resources to serve more vulnerable families. HHP allocates its resources to ensure that virtually all are served. Unlike HHP, traditional legal services organizations lack theparalegal, social worker and attorney resources to assist in all cases. HHP paralegals and attorneys provide hands-on assistance totenants through every step of their case. Cases are constantlymonitored through final resolution with full representation availablewhen needed. 9
  10. 10.  Legal Services: Brief and Full  70% Receive Brief Legal Services ▪ Provided when tenant is unlikely to need full representation ▪ Paralegals walk the tenants through the process  Remaining 30% Receive Full Legal Services Short-Term Social Service  Help tenants apply for public assistance and restore and retain housing subsidies  Provide financial counseling Long-Term Social Services  Tenants needing longer-term assistance are referred to NYC’s community-based homelessness prevention program, Homebase 10
  11. 11. Homebase workscollaboratively with HHPstaff, offering such servicesas: Short-term emergency funding Assistance with obtaining employment, public benefits and accessing other social service. Relocation as last resort 11
  12. 12. ZIP CODE Borough ENROLLED HHP10456 Bronx 51510452 Bronx 35711207 Brooklyn 23211691 Queens 247 12
  13. 13.  Evaluate the program based on the rate of program participants who avoid shelter Used traditional family anti-eviction legal services as a control group  Available in all neighborhoods  Emphasis on full legal services  Most services provided in community offices  Traditional model takes a triage approach rather than focusing on long-term homelessness prevention 13
  14. 14. 10% 9.4%9%8% 7.4% 7.6%7%6% 5.1%5% 4.2%4% 2.9%3%2%1%0% 1-Year 2-Years 3-Years HHP FALS 14
  15. 15.  HHP associated with reduced hazard of shelter entry Our results may understate program efficacy  FALS is subject to two counts of selection bias  Comparing HHP to a pre-existing program Success due to many unique program features Further research required 15
  16. 16.  Can be adopted by localities  Needs a willing Housing Court partner  Requires a legal and social service team  Can be tailored to each community’s needs 16