For the past 20 years, the city has had one intake center based in the Bronx, called PATH.
The new center in Brooklyn will focus more heavily on prevention, “with the ultimate goal of keeping them stably housed in their communities and making shelter an option of last resort,” according to a DHS representative.
In keeping prevention a priority, the new intake facility will emphasize DHS’ homelessness prevention program, Homebase, which is not currently utilized at PATH.
“Families that arrive at PATH have already been evicted or made certain decisions that can only lead to shelter,” a DHS representative said. “Rather than a pure intake model allowing families to access the shelter system, this demonstration project will make clients purposefully engaged in Homebase, allowing them to ‘opt out,’ rather than ‘opt in’ of the prevention services DHS offers.”
Homebase helps keep families in their homes in multiple ways, from help with rent payments to landlord mediation or assistance with job placement.
According to DHS, participation in Homebase decreased the number of households who applied for shelter in half and reduced the average length of stay in shelters by 70 percent.
Judith Goldiner, attorney-in-charge at the Legal Aid Society, explained that a Brooklyn facility will be more convenient for many homeless families. The Bronx has the highest percentage of homeless families, and Brooklyn has the second highest.
“One of the other ideas is that they want to keep people more in their boroughs,” Goldiner said. “That way your kids can keep on going to school where they’ve been to school, they can have access to support services that people had before and those kinds of things.”
But, Goldiner noted, the struggle to move families out of homeless shelters extends beyond the services that DHS offers.
“They have programs to get people out of shelter now,” she said, “but unfortunately landlords haven’t been taking them, so we haven’t seen the kind of move outs that we’d like to see from the shelter.”
A specific location for the new intake center has not been announced, but it will be co-located with Homebase and the Human Resources Administration (HRA). PATH will continue to serve families from all five boroughs.