Gabriela Sandoval Requena
Director of Policy and Communications
May 24, 2023
Thank you, Chair Brannan, members of the City Council Committee on Finance, and Council Staff for holding this Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget Hearing and the opportunity to submit written testimony.
Founded in 1994, New Destiny’s mission is to end the cycle of domestic violence and homelessness for low-income families and individuals by developing and connecting them to safe, permanent, affordable housing and services. We build and manage supportive housing, and, through our innovative programs, we assist survivors in finding permanent housing and remaining stably housed.
New Destiny is currently the largest provider of supportive housing for domestic violence survivors in New York and a leading advocate in the effort to obtain the resources needed to end family homelessness. To learn more about our legislative and budget priorities, see our 2023 Policy Platform. New Destiny is also a co-convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition (FHC), a broad group of organizations and impacted advocates committed to tackling homelessness among families in our city.
Our testimony today elevates two critical areas of the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Executive Budget, as well as two major budget neutral opportunities to expand housing resources to domestic violence survivors, who desperately need them. First, alongside Urban Resource Institute, Safe Horizon, and other domestic violence service providers, we call on our city leaders to fully fund the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence (ENDGBV) microgrant program at $6 million. Next, we present the need to increase funding for the Domestic Violence and Empowerment (DoVE) Initiative. Third, we urge the city to expand access to homeless set-asides to survivors in the domestic violence shelter system. Lastly, we discuss the need to open NYC 15/15 supportive housing to domestic violence survivors.
Fund the ENDGBV Microgrant Program at $6 Million
We are grateful to Speaker Adams, Council Member Cabán, and members of the Council for passing, and to Mayor Adams for swiftly signing, Intro 153-A into law, which created a housing stability program for domestic and gender-based violence survivors, also known as microgrant program. The initiative will provide survivors with low-barrier grants and supportive services, with the goal of helping them remain safely housed and free from abuse. The Mayor’s preliminary budget included a mere investment of $1.2 million for the microgrant program, which is not nearly enough to meet the need. We thank the Council for proposing a $3 million increase in their budget response, for a total allocation of $4.2 million. However, this also falls short of the necessary $6 million needed in its first year.
This new program builds on a privately funded microgrant pilot overseen by ENDGBV and administered by Sanctuary for Families in 2020. This first-of-its-kind initiative demonstrated that flexible funding can significantly improve survivors’ financial situation, help them remain housed, and foster financial stability. It also documented the high demand for low-barrier financial support among survivors of domestic violence in New York City.1 The $500,000 in funding was quickly depleted and forced the program to cease receiving applications in less than 2 months. ENDGBV also capped the maximum grant amount at $1,500 to ensure the program could reach a larger number of survivors, which pushed the average grant size down. Of the 693 survivors who successfully applied during the small window of time, only 377 received an average grant of $1,243.37.
New Destiny witnesses the beneficial impact of microgrants every day. Our rapid re-housing program, HousingLink, receives small federal service funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development through the New York City Continuum of Care, which can be used to cover most emergency needs, such as utility arrears, moving costs, and healthcare, but not furniture or groceries. The microgrant program will help bridge the need gap by covering these essential costs.
Using our utilization data, we estimate that the average microgrant amount requested will be about $2,000. At a $2,000 average, the Mayor’s proposal of $1.2 million would only reach 600 survivor-led households. It would not be enough to assist survivors who seek services at the New York City Family Justice Centers (FJCs). In 2022, 15,906 survivors visited the FJCs and about 10% of them, or 1,543 survivors, utilized the Centers’ housing services.2
Based on this data, and assuming a 15% set aside for administrative costs, we can project that a $6 million allocation would enable the city to meet the need. New Destiny used the following
formula to calculate the estimate:
Average microgrant amount x [# of survivors who utilized housing services at FJCs in
2022 + # of households in the city’s domestic violence shelter system in 2022] x 45%
A $6 million allocation, minus the 15% administrative set aside, would leave $5.1 million available for microgrants. The program would benefit 2,550 survivor-led households at an average of $2,000.
|Average microgrant amount||$2,000|
|# of survivors who utilized housing services at FJCs in 2022||1,543|
|#of households in the city’s domestic violence shelter system in 20223||4,137|
|Estimated utilization – 45% (considering the program’s income eligibility cap of 300% of federal poverty line and estimated need)||45%|
For some survivors, an immediate, but otherwise manageable, financial or health crisis can quickly snowball into a catastrophe causing homelessness. This new initiative has the potential to be a lifesaver for survivors, especially for non-citizen New Yorkers; help bridge the gap for existing federally funded initiatives that do not cover essential items; and prevent homelessness and shelter recidivism for a fraction of the cost of shelter and re-housing efforts.
New Destiny urges the Mayor and the City Council to fund the microgrant program at $6 million dollars.
Increase DoVE Initiative Funding
The Council’s Domestic Violence and Empowerment (DoVE) Initiative provides crucial support to domestic and gender-based violence survivors in New York City. The initiative funds a large number of organizations that provide a wide range of critical services, including crisis intervention, legal assistance, housing help, and more. In many cases, DoVE provides the financial assistance community-based organizations need to service survivors without interruption. Through this and other discretionary funding special initiatives, the Council continues to make an unequivocal statement that domestic violence must never be tolerated in our society.
New Destiny joins partner domestic violence service providers in urging the Council to raise DoVE Initiative funding in FY24. Increased funding will expand our capacity to provide survivors with vital services and resources as they rebuild their lives.
Expand Access to Homeless Set-Asides to Survivors in Domestic Violence Shelter
The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) creates a critical pipeline from shelter to permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by requiring most developers who receive funding to set aside at least 15% of their apartments for individuals and families in shelter. These units are commonly referred to as HPD homeless set-asides.
In FY22, HPD moved 1,600 homeless households into newly constructed units and more than 600 into re-rental apartments, none of which were made available to survivors in Human Resource Administration (HRA) domestic violence shelter.4 Despite committing “to even the playing field for all New Yorkers” in the Housing Our Neighbors Blueprint in April 2022, the Adams administration continues to only allow individuals and families in the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter system access to these units, with rare exception. By expanding access to homeless set-asides, the city would not only make this valuable housing resource more equitable, but would likely fill vacancies more quickly, leading to significant potential cost-savings.
New Destiny urges the city administration to allow survivors in HRA domestic violence shelter equal access to this housing.
Open NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing to Domestic Violence Survivors
Unlike New York State supportive housing programs, the city supportive housing initiative, NYC 15/15, does not include domestic violence survivors as an eligible population. For survivors to qualify for city-funded supportive housing, they must meet the “chronicity” requirement, which means they must have a lengthy stay in DHS shelter and a diagnosed disability, such as serious mental illness or substance use disorder. This effectively keeps survivors out of this important housing resource. The 180 days survivors may spend in emergency domestic violence shelter are not counted toward the DHS length of stay and, while research shows that domestic violence causes a myriad of negative health outcomes, survivors rarely divulge a diagnosis for fear of losing custody of their children to their abuser.
At least half of survivors experience post-traumatic stress disorder and depression,5 moreover, survivors can sustain head trauma more often than football players, but they are rarely diagnosed.6 Permanent, affordable, supportive housing is a lifeline for domestic violence survivors who need housing and some level of support to attain and maintain stability.
New Destiny urges the city administration to open its supportive housing program to domestic violence survivors and their families, who are among the most vulnerable.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony. New Destiny looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the Council.
We welcome any questions you may have.
1 Holmes, K. (2021). Evaluation Summary Report: Emergency Financial Relief Microgrants Program for Survivors of Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. Retrieved from https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/ocdv/downloads/pdf/Emergency-Financial-Relief-Microgrants-Program-Evaluation-SummaryReport.pdf
2 NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. 2022 Annual report on Domestic Violence Initiatives, Indicators and Factors. Retrieved from https://www.nyc.gov/assets/ocdv/downloads/pdf/2022-Local-Law-38-Report_Final_Submitted2.pdf
3 NYC Department of Social Services (2023). 2022 Annual Report on Exits from NYC Domestic Violence Shelters
4 New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations. (2022). Mayor’s Management Report 2022. Retrieved from https://www.nyc.gov/site/operations/performance/mmr.page
5 Nathanson, A. M., Shorey, R. C., Tirone, V., & Rhatigan, D. L. (2012). The Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders in a Community Sample of Female Victims of Intimate Partner Violence. Partner abuse, 3(1), 59–75. https://doi.org/10.1891/1946-65220.127.116.11
6 Hillstrom, C. (2022, March 1). ‘The Hidden Epidemic of Brain Injuries From Domestic Violence.’ The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/01/magazine/brain-trauma-domestic-violence.html