January 15, 2015  – Message from CEO Judy Kahan

This past November the City released a new assisted housing program called Living in Communities (LINC) – a stabilized rent subsidy program for New Yorkers who are homeless, including the people we serve – domestic violence survivors. Since 2010 there has not been any funding program to assist domestic violence survivors to find housing.  Without this assistance to find and keep a new home, independent of their batterers, what is a survivor to do? Without assistance, the choice can be between being battered and being homeless.

I spoke with Ebony Williams, one of CADV’s Housing Specialists, about this new program and how LINC affects our clients.

Judy: Can you tell me what a Housing Specialist does at the Center Against Domestic Violence?

Ebony: We work with families staying at our shelters to find them permanent housing before their time spent at the shelter reaches 180 days. During their stay we apply through HRA for assisted housing, and hopefully help them acquire permanent housing.  While trying to find them permanent housing, we also educate and counsel families about financial independence.

Judy: Is it common to find housing? What happens if an apartment has not been secured?

Ebony: We do as much as we can to get families approved for housing: we help them find apartments; and work together to fill out the application packets, lease terms, and more. Sadly, with limited funds, some resistance from property owners, and not a lot of available rental space, some people will face homelessness.  If a family does not have a housing placement, we apply to have the families time at our shelter extended, but this is not always granted.

Judy: Can you give us an example of someone the Center helped find housing?

Ebony: Suzanna and her family were recently living in our shelter for four months. She was previously living with her abuser for more than five years, but had had enough the last night at home when her abuser hit Lisa – her youngest. It didn’t matter what it took; Suzanna had to get out and found shelter with us. Women come to us for safety and shelter – we support them at their most vulnerable time. We were able to find housing for Suzanna and her four children using the City’s new LINC funding program.

Judy: Can you explain what the LINC program is and why it’s different for domestic violence homeless?

Ebony:  Take Suzanna, for example. Because she is homeless and also a domestic violence survivor, she is in a different category from people who become homeless for economic reasons.  Domestic violence victims are in their own category, LINC III, which has fewer eligibility slots and slower approval. 

Judy: Do you feel there is enough assistance for the families?

 Ebony: We are very happy the city is providing funding for our clients again; but earlier subsidies were more realistic – they were higher, so it was easier for us to make sure families had safe, secure permanent housing at the end of their shelter stay. The level of this rental assistance limits the kind of apartments and neighborhoods domestic violence families can settle into in New York City.

Judy: When using LINC, what are some of the obstacles when trying to place a family like Suzanna’s?

Ebony: Property owners are resistant to accepting assisted housing tenants. They have been burnt by other temporary programs in the past, and LINC is also only available for up to five years.

Judy: What is your general opinion of the program?

Ebony: Overall I am optimistic about the LINC program. Acceptance of housing subsidy programs fluctuates over the years. And some months there are more placements than others. We are making it a priority to market the program to property owners by explaining how each family is backed by a $3,000 account that property owners can tap into if something should happen where the family cannot pay anymore or might have to move out.

Judy: One of the most important steps a domestic violence survivor can take is setting up her own sustainable permanent household, independent of any former or future batterer. 

For more information about the LINC program, please visit NYC.gov.