Staying Safe at Home
New York City has one of the most competitive housing markets in the country, making it incredibly difficult for poor families to obtain housing. About 31% of CFR’s families are homeless and many more face housing insecurity or unsafe living conditions. Preventing the loss of housing and securing safe homes is paramount to enabling families to live together safely.
Identifying the Problem
While our parents just want to bring their children home, families are often facing serious housing issues, including eviction, living in unsafe or crowded conditions, or living in shelters, that can make reunification next to impossible.
Parents are often charged with neglect related to other issues, like substance abuse or mental illness—but housing may become a problem if their home is not large enough to accommodate all their children or if they are facing eviction. Living in crowded conditions is especially a problem for immigrant families, many of whom lack legal status. They face additional obstacles in obtaining safe housing and must often rely on family members for support.
The Shelter System
When a family has nowhere to turn, a shelter may be the best and only option—especially when they face unsafe conditions or domestic violence. CFR assists in finding placement at family shelters so parents and children can stay together. Entering a shelter can be intimidating, so CFR’s Parent Advocates often accompany families on their first day to ensure they get the emergency placement to which they are entitled. Sometimes families are denied a place at the shelter if they have family members living in the area—even if their relatives do not have space or will not allow them to stay. In these cases, CFR continues its advocacy throughout the placement process to ensure the family receives the shelter they need.
But shelters are not a permanent solution and many have limitations on the amount of time a family can stay. Parents are often ready to leave the shelter system when they have steady employment or public assistance.
CFR helps families become independent by aiding them in obtaining public assistance, housing vouchers, and employment, as well as helping them to create a household budget so they will have the skills to live together permanently. Our families often have few supplies or furniture, so with the help of partner organizations, CFR teams help parents obtain cribs, bedding, clothing, and other necessities so that they can raise their children safely at home.