Budget cuts slash program for homeless families

March 17, 2011 8:33:57 PM PDT
Thousands of New Yorkers, once homeless, could soon be homeless again.

The city says it will no longer subsidize housing for more than 15,000 families.

Budget cuts are the reason. The city's blaming the state. The state's blaming the city.

The families are caught in the middle.

Erica Rivera, 27, says she's angry and scared just hours after learning that funding for a program that helps put a roof over her head could be cut.

We asked her what she is going to do for the next month.

Rviera said, "Struggle, struggle once again and pray that I don't end up back in a shelter."

It's called "The Advantage Program" and it helps city families go from homeless to living in an apartment.

Families work and pay 30 to 40 percent of their income toward rent with the city footing the bill for the rest, with money from the state. It can last for one or two years.

But now the governor's current budget proposal doesn't include money for the program.

And without state dollars, the commissioner of the City Department of Homeless Services says he has no choice but to shut the program down.

"The city just can't afford it in these difficult budget times," said Seth Diamond, Commissioner of Dept. Of Homeless Services.

But critics of the city's decision accuse the Bloomberg administration of playing politics.

"The mayor should not be fear mongering. This is a time to have serious discussions about solutions to this problem," said Patrick Markee from the Coalition for the Homeless.

A spokesman for the governor's office called the City's decision "premature" saying, "New York City seems intent on manufacturing a crisis and endangering thousands of New Yorkers to benefit its own economic and political interest."