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Poor state of affairs

Cyril Josh Barker | 10/15/2012, 1:56 p.m.

"It would make far more sense to permit these families, who are able to pay, to find and keep work in the current economic system, rather than force them to pay," he said. "We will be prepared to go to court on this."

City Council Member Jumaane Williams said that charging the homeless makes no sense, and that if the homeless can't afford rent for an apartment, they shouldn't be charged to stay in a homeless shelter.

"The administration's ideas about homelessness, from the plans for the Bedford Armory to rent at homeless shelters, shows they have no interest in actually helping people in need," he said. "These solutions only create more problems."

However, the city says it's about responsibility and principle when it comes to the homeless. Reports indicate that Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs said that the system of handouts is not working and it boils down to personal responsibility.

A spokeswoman from the city's Department of Homeless Services told the AmNews that the city is required by state law to comply with the state mandate called the income contribution requirement (ICR). Because of years of non-compliance, the city was denied $2.4 million in 2009 for not enforcing the program.

ICR was suppose to start in May of last year, but was suspended due to technical issues with calculation amounts for families who receive public assistance and reside in shelters.

The city previously proposed to allow clients to place a portion of their contributions in restricted savings accounts, which the city believed was the most effective way of supporting exits from shelters, was not within OTDA's authority to approve.

"We are very interested in engaging in a conversation with the state about amending the law because we think that there is a good way to have clients make a modest contribution toward the cost of shelter but also reinforce asset building and savings, so that when families move out of shelters, they have resources," said the spokeswoman.

She added that the city plans to help homeless families through the Advantage NY program with employment that will return clients back to their communities. Homeless families living in shelters will receive notices in September, with rent due in October.