City of New York launches “Project Home” to swiftly connect victims of domestic violence with permanent housing

Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

On April 15, 2024, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Molly Wasow Park announced “Project Home,” a pilot program to provide intensive, specialized housing search assistance to domestic violence survivors with children living in city shelters.

Starting with 100 families, Project Home will help domestic violence survivors find safe, permanent homes and reduce the time spent in shelters. Launched in partnership with New Destiny Housing — a nonprofit that provides housing and services to domestic violence survivors and their families — the pilot is funded with a $300,000 grant from the NYC Fund to End Youth & Family Homelessness.

Mayor Adams also announced expansions to eligibility for supportive and affordable housing units for survivors of domestic violence. These eligibility expansions undo unnecessary bureaucratic rules that historically made domestic violence survivors ineligible for New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) supportive housing or New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) affordable housing and expand the pool of homes available to this vulnerable population.

One hundred families staying in New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible households, comprising those in shelters due to domestic violence. The participating families will be directly connected to a specialized housing navigator — trained in the challenging dynamics of domestic violence and affordable housing — who will work closely with each participating family to secure permanent housing quickly. They will identify appropriate apartments from trusted landlords, advocate on behalf of the family with landlords and brokers, and assist with applications, aiming to minimize the time each family spends in a shelter. To ensure families remain stably housed long term, this pilot will include an aftercare coordinator to provide light-touch services after families move out of a shelter. These services will consist of financial coaching, connecting families to new doctors, schools, childcare, and other resources in their new neighborhood, and linking families to counseling to help survivors recover from the traumas of homelessness and domestic abuse.

The aftercare coordinator will also assist families in obtaining or maintaining government benefits. Aftercare services will be available to families for up to one year after they move into their new home, supported by a grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Currently, residents of New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) Domestic Violence Shelters are ineligible for HPD units reserved for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, as eligibility is strictly based on stays in DHS shelters. To eliminate this discrepancy between the two systems and expand access to affordable housing for a vulnerable population, DSS and HPD will allow clients in HRA shelters to apply directly for these units, ultimately shortening their stays in a shelter.

Additionally, in partnership with DOHMH, DSS will expand eligibility for city-supportive housing, which currently provides rental assistance and on-site supportive services to individuals and families struggling with homelessness and severe behavioral health challenges, also to include survivors of domestic violence and their families. These families will have access to on-site services to help them maintain stability.

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