By Raquel Paulino, HousingLink Training and Technical Assistance Manager
HousingLink, New Destiny’s innovative rapid rehousing program based at the New York City Family Justice Centers (FJCs), now offers group orientations on affordable housing for domestic violence survivors who are clients at the FJCs. Topics include affordable housing options, potential barriers to securing an apartment, and an overview of the HousingLink program.
Whether you’re ready to actively participate in HousingLink and receive assistance finding an affordable apartment, or you simply want to learn more about housing and rental subsidies, attending a group orientation is the first step. Orientation sessions do more than just provide information – they empower survivors to tackle the issues that can make it difficult to rent an apartment, wherever they are in their search.
Group orientations run 60 to 90 minutes and participants receive materials that supplement the information provided. Topics at each session include:
- Overview of housing options in New York City. This includes the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), supportive housing, Housing Connect, senior housing, the private market, and shelter.
- How to determine if permanent, affordable housing is the best option. Affordable housing is a general term used to refer to any apartment where the rent is set to a specific income level and/or has regulated rent increases. Traditionally, housing is considered affordable when 30% or less of the household income goes towards housing costs. The various requirements regarding how much a household must contribute to rent, as well as what is considered income, are complicated. The orientation helps survivors to understand what they can afford and whether affordable housing is the right option.
- Rental subsidies. The orientation offers an overview of two New York City rental subsidies – CityFHEPS and FHEPS – including initial requirements, maximum rental amounts for a voucher and how to deal with housing discrimination when using a rental subsidy voucher. Orientation participants, including individuals who already have a housing voucher, will gain the tools to understand and navigate their search for housing.
- Housing barriers. Background and credit checks are typically required for anyone looking to rent an apartment, whether through the private market or an affordable housing program. The orientation explains how credit and credit scores and housing court and criminal records can affect the housing search.
After participating in the orientation, individuals can inform the orientation leader if they want to participate in HousingLink, and a HousingLink Coordinator will then reach out to schedule an intake appointment. During the orientation, participants receive a list of required documents that they must bring to this initial intake appointment. The intake appointment is followed by a second meeting that focuses on budgeting including spending, monthly bills, credit and debt; as well as housing court and criminal records. After this second meeting, and if all required documents have been completed, the client and the Coordinator together begin the housing search process.
Ready to attend a group orientation? Contact your FJC case manager to sign up.