Since our December 2013 blog post about the Center for NYC Neighborhoods’ Housing Mobility Program, the program has grown considerably. From January through May 2014, the number of homeowners seeking assistance from the Housing Mobility Program has more than quadrupled. Presently, the program is working with 150 families, many of them seeking to transition from homeownership to affordable rental housing or assisted living housing.
So, who has the Housing Mobility Program helped and how?
The average income for the families we work with is about $36,000 per year, with about three people in each household. These families are at risk of homelessness without the resources that the Center and its partners are able to provide.
In January 2014, homelessness in New York City reached its highest point since the Great Depression at a total shelter population of 54,615 people (not including homeless not in shelters). This includes 12,724 families making up roughly 80% of the shelter population, staying for a record high average of 14.5 months. The Center helps families stay out of shelters and the streets through assisting to secure new housing, giving referrals to vetted real estate brokers, legal services providers, and housing counselors, and providing direct advice and counseling. The Center has also provided or leveraged nearly $11,000 in grant assistance for families in the program.
Homelessness in New York City
Updated March 2014, Created by the Coalition for the Homeless
Ms. Smith, a 74-year-old senior, is an example of how the program helps New Yorkers. Ms. Smith’s only income is her monthly Social Security benefit after having lost her part-time job. She fell behind on her mortgage payments and her bank moved to foreclose on her home. Just weeks before she was scheduled to lose her home to foreclosure, though, Ms. Smith was referred to the Center’s Housing Mobility Program by one of our Network Partners, the City Bar Justice Center.
Ms. Smith had exhausted all options to keep her home and was unable to find affordable housing that fit her budget. But with the Center’s help, Ms. Smith was able to secure an apartment just two miles from her previous home, with a drastically more affordable rent. The program also provided her with relocation grant assistance, totaling over $4,000, to help her cover the cost of her security deposit, first month’s rent, and utility bills. Today, Ms. Smith is living safely and comfortably in her new apartment.
We’ve found the following four issues to be the greatest barriers preventing homeowners from transitioning to renting housing or other affordable options:
- Inability to find rental housing because of limited income and savings.
- Lack of available affordable housing units in NYC.
- Health issues.
- Tax consequences because the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 has not been extended.
The Housing Mobility Program continues to work with NYC homeowners and our partners to find new solutions to issues facing families leaving homeownership behind. If you are interested in receiving more information about the Housing Mobility Program, please contact 646-786-0888 or email HMP@cnycn.org.
Client names have been changed to protect confidentiality. Homeless data comes from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and Human Resources Administration and the NYCStat Shelter Census Reports.