By Nicole Branca
Executive Director, New Destiny Housing
October 29, 2021
press conference. Start at
14:00 to watch Nicole Branca
read her statement.
Good morning everyone. Thank you Assemblymember Rosenthal and Senator Kavanagh for all your work on fighting homelessness in the State, especially for your leadership on this legislation.
I’m Nicole Branca, Executive Director of New Destiny Housing. Our mission is to end the cycle of abuse and homelessness for domestic violence survivors by developing housing, finding housing, and advocating for more housing for domestic violence survivors.
Our laser-like focus on housing is because nearly 19,000 New Yorkers enter shelter each year because of domestic violence and the lack of affordable housing resources for them.
It is the number one cause of family homelessness in NYC.
For far too long, survivors have been forced to make the impossible choice between staying with their abuser or become homeless.
For far too long, thousands of survivors and their children have continued to cycle from shelter to shelter because they cannot afford housing.
For far too long, FHEPS recipients have remained homeless because the voucher value is too low.
We know this firsthand. For the past six years, New Destiny has provided housing assistance to victims of domestic violence through HousingLink, our rapid rehousing program. In a direct comparison of survivors housed with Section 8 versus those housed at the lower FHEPS rate, it has taken recipients with FHEPS vouchers three times as long to find housing than someone with Section 8.
One HousingLink participant, a domestic violence survivor with a FHEPS voucher, told us: “While in shelter, I started looking for apartments. I looked at one after the other and was constantly turned down because the landlord refused to take my voucher. I soon realized that finding an apartment is the hardest challenge and is the number one cause of why most of the DV victims go back to their abuser! It was scary and nerve-wracking to not know where my children or I would live after our six months in the domestic violence shelter was finished.”
This is what we hear over and over and over again.
We thank Governor Hochul for the work she’s already done to elevate the issue of domestic violence in our community, and urge her to sign this legislation as soon as possible.
It is time to make FHEPS vouchers usable for vulnerable families.
It is time to make sure that no survivor has to choose between staying with their abuser or becoming homeless.
I have worked for 10+ years in the Homeless sector and the FHEPS vocher has been an issue for all families. DV survivors should be put at the head of the list along with the veterans who are not eligible for other vouchers. The voucher should not be based on family size but the need of the bedrooms. if there is a family of 3 and there is the mother and 2 boy then it should be a 2 bedroom not a voucher for just 1580. A 2 bedroom voucher is much more than that amount. We need these voucher to be the same as the HPD voucher and go according to zip code. It is only fair. These families are escaping possible death. Isn’t it worth more money to have a family survive.