Under New Policy for Homeless Families, Children Can Miss Less School

The city’s Department of Homeless Services is changing its policies to try to reduce the extraordinary disruption that homelessness causes in all aspects of a child’s life.
News Story (New York)

Elizabeth A. Harris
New York Times (NYT)
September 1, 2016

Tags: Education, Housing: Homelessness

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


To get a spot in a shelter, families must travel to the city’s intake center, known as the PATH, short for Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing, in the South Bronx. For the initial interview, the whole family must go. It is a trip many make repeatedly, as applicants are frequently rejected because they do not have sufficient documentation; families must document every place they have lived, stayed or slept during the past two years.

Under new rules to be phased in by November, if a family has applied for shelter within the past 30 days, the children do not have to come back to PATH when their parents reapply.

That is not an uncommon situation: The city said 47 percent of all families who applied once ended up trying again within that period.

“We set out to eliminate as many obstacles to children attending school” as possible, said Steven Banks, the city’s commissioner of the Department of Social Services. “This is an important step forward.”