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May 11th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Charging rent to homeless

Princess Seyborn and her daughter live in a New York City public shelter where they are now being asked to pay rent.
Princess Seyborn and her daughter live in a New York City public shelter where they are now being asked to pay rent.

Imagine you're a single mother. You're living in a homeless shelter making barely enough at your job as a day care worker to feed your daughter and pay the bills. Now what would you do if that shelter suddenly told you in order to stay you had to pay rent? This is the reality for Princess Seyborn and hundreds of other working homeless families in New York City.

The city is starting to charge working homeless families like Seyborn to stay in the city's publicly run shelters. Seyborn now has to pay $345 dollars a month in rent. "I tried to explain it on my best behalf," Seyborn said. "I don't have it and all I'm getting is pens and paper in my face saying sign here and sign here, and I refuse to sign."

The policy is based on a 1997 state law, which requires shelter residents with jobs to use a portion of their earnings to pay rent. The amount varies according to family size and which shelter is being used.

So why is the city implementing the law now? One reason could have to do with the results of a 2007 state audit. The city was required to pay back $2.4 million in housing aid that should have been supplemented by working homeless families.

The city's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, defended the policy saying, "Everybody else is doing it, and we're told we have to do it, so we're going to do it."

But some city officials say the mayor should be looking for ways to reverse the policy not enforce it. Homeless advocates warn the policy could actually prolong a person's stay at a shelter. Arnold Cohen, President and CEO of Partnership for the Homeless, said city officials don't understand the income many of these people make goes to childcare. Cohen said, "So, when they have child care they are able to look for a job, able to look for housing, but we're essentially taking that money away from them."

The city says the policy is designed to prevent the working homeless from becoming dependent on public assistance and to move families back into their own homes.

So what can the working homeless do if faced with the prospect of being kicked out under the policy? Princess Seyborn is filing an appeal with the state. But critics of the policy worry unless it is reversed, many working homeless will end up back on the streets.


Filed under: Economy
soundoff (359 Responses)
  1. root cause

    Here in lies the the problem. BOTH sides of the political parties have failed the nation with great ideas but awful solutions.
    LOOK at the root cause of all problems and you will find that it has nothing to do with policy. I has to to with PERSONAL "ACCOUNTABLITY".
    The only policy any american should discuss is WHY are poeple not accountable for thier actions. As much as it hurts to see someone suffer, maybe a little struggle will make them think about cause and effect in the future.
    It is simple if there is always someone there to save you; why would you change your ways?
    "short term pain, long term gain"

    May 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  2. raymos

    TRUTH (not).

    I never blame someone else for any predicament I get myself into, whether planned or unplanned. I have lived the poor life and worked my way out of that hole, as any other capable person is capable of doing.

    If you want to resort to childish name calling, go back to grade-school. I'm not self-righteous, I am self motivated, self confident and have a sense of self-responsibility. If you can find anyone on welfare or in a shelter with those qualities, they won't be there long.

    May 11, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  3. CodeSculptor

    This homeless shelter SHOULD be paid for in taxes, so why is she paying twice? Do parents pay MORE school taxes than non-parents? Are parents charged tuition for sending their children to public schools? When you call the fire-department, do you get an itemized bill for putting out the fire?

    So some want this lady to pay basically $17.25 per work-day to a homeless shelter (it's not 10 bucks a day, because there are 20 work days in an average month).

    Her Federal Tax would be $2200, her NY State Tax would be $700 and her NY City Tax would be $500. In other words, she'd be paying 3400 in taxes. Leaving around $10,000 remaining after tax.

    Then she'd be paying for rent, which works out to the first 3.2 hours of each day going to rent after taxes. Of course, the first 4.3 hours of her day are spent paying taxes and rent.

    Sure, you might say, everyone does that... but this is a situation where this person was / is homeless, and is trying to get back on her feet, and having a family to support, which we all claim is our priority as a society. She's not asking for a loan, she's simply wondering why she's paying taxes, and if we're going to charge them, then I'm wondering why I'm paying taxes too.

    May 11, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    I don't think it's unreasonable to charge rent to the homeless if it's based on how much they are getting paid and/or paying childcare. I agree with another viewer who said "It assists in the learning process of how to manage your finances. This will educate the family in how to be successful in society." I was a single mother of 3 school age children and worked two jobs...got some assistance from the govt. to pay childcare, but still paid something, AND paid rent living in a trailor for over two years. Not to mention all the other bills like gas for my car, (an old clunker), insurance, electricity, & food. It was really tough...but it made me stronger and I learned so much. Especially how to do for myself and my children. Princess can learn to do the same if she is willing to work hard at making it.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  5. MJ

    Mo, I run a not-for-profit shelter for families and we don't get near enough money from the city to cover the costs of housing, social services and family programming. We are facing budget cuts of nearly 5% in family shelters effective July 1. Our organization has to raise an additional $200,000 a year to subsidize what we get from the city in order to house our families in our shelter with dignity. We sure are not making money and providers generally do not support this approach. I sure don’t. Angel is correct this policy will discourage people working in low paying jobs to keep working. The truth is people need jobs that pay living wages in order to secure decent housing. The rent subsidies they get are short lived and we continue the cycle of homelessness by this band aid approach. The mayor is disingenuous as the city could have asked for and fought for a waiver but did not do so, not has it acted to have the law modified of reversed.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  6. NOT A BUM

    PAY PAY PAY is what I say. i'm sick and tired of working my butt off to support my family and my tax dollars never benefit me. this lady has a job so why not pay rent? i pay rent and childcare so should she. when are people going to stop relying on the government to take care of them? it's her fault she is in a homeless shelter. she has no one to blame but herself.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:20 pm |
  7. Just me

    Reading these posts i can see how cold people really can be.I seen comments such as(Throw them out and let them starve).This great country is becoming a class of two kinda of people.Poor and rich.I to do think homeless should pay something if working.It just amazes me how we can provide billions to companys that brought on there own misfortunes threw greed and the goverment will most likely never be paid back.And all of a sudden where teaching homeless how to manage money by taking from them.

    My idea is lets start with the rich on teaching them how to manage money and work are way down to the poor.

    May 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  8. An Upset Taxpayer....

    Are you people serious... the same pro life republicans want to ensure people keep unplanned unwanted pregnancies, then charge them for homeless housing....I have to laugh not to cry.

    Anyhow, everyone is basing these calculation on the fact that 30% of your income is a resonable amount to pay for housin, which is true however this is not housing it is a temporary living quarter and should be charged accordingly if a charge must exist. Homeless shelters are no Hilton, 8 people share one small room with 4 or more bunkbeds, and you and you child not only share a room but a bed (for safety reasons it's worth it) But you republicans have no clue... I guess that's what happens when you are feed with silver spoons from day one... you get this sense of self entitlement!!!

    But really, 30% is an insanely over priced rate for the living provided by shelters, the lack of safety, security, and privacy. If a charge must be done the max should be 10% and 30-40% of their income should go to savings for a down payment for an apartment because the truth is that's what usually holds people up from moving off the streets that hefty security deposit 1st and last months rent... not to mention people aren't eager to rent to homeless people with little, negative, or no credit... but by charging people 30% to stay in teh shelter that should make everything easier... STUPID

    May 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Karen

    $345 is a fortune if you are only making $1000 a month. It costs the same to eat for you as for the guy making $100,000 a month, even if you are choosing less expensive food. You must pay for transportation, clothing, and all of the other expenses for yourself and a child. To move out of the shelter, you must save up enough money for a deposit, first and last month's rent, and then move into an unfurnished apartment that will cost more than your monthly income. How is charging this person to live at a shelter in any way fair? Instead of being able to climb up out of a financial hole, she will only be digging a deeper one.

    Yes, many of us have worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, but few have done so as a single parent in such a difficult environment. You have to HAVE bootstraps before you can pull yourself up by them.

    Compassion and education are the only ways to help people like Princess get off the low-income treadmill and become self sufficient. It is also shameful that we pay the least amount of money to the people who care for our most important possessions, our children.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:54 pm |
  10. raymos

    Shawn, you must not pay taxes.

    Shelters that operate on charity do provide free housing. When taxes are involved, the government can and should help only as much as absolutely necessary to get that person back into being a productive member of society.

    Unfortunately, there exist too many liberal spenders of that tax money rather than people that understand the concept of self-responsibility.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm |
  11. pistachio

    You must be kidding me!!! All of us work and our pay goes mostly to housing, child care, utilities, etc. Why should these working poor get housing for free??? The rest of us don't. Many people pay childcare out of meager earnings.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  12. TRUTH

    What is it with you people? 'If you cant feed em, dont breed 'em? Are you on DRUGS? Do you NOT GET IT that many people have had kids while they were stable and companies let them go, they lose their homes, etc etc and get thoroughly raped by the government? Many of you are a bunch of judgemental hypocrites!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cant wait for some of you jerks to lose your job, live in a dumpy smelly homeless shelter and have people BLAME YOU for the sitch you are in! 'HANDOUTS'? The government treats everyone like crap. The majority of people getting social security and such are NOT WANTING a handout. It is NOT enough to live in. Grow a heart you self-rightous jerks!!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:42 pm |
  13. cheri

    Dr J.

    Really? Take a child from a loving parent because she has a minimum wage paying job. Then what? Throw the child into an already overtaxed child welfare system where the she can be shipped from foster family to foster family, some of which are most likely abusive. Great idea.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  14. revel rouser

    Aaah, America! The country that preys on the marginal. Those who live on the edge of poverty are drawn and quartered whenever America is economically challenged. We need to make sure that the poor continue to remain poor so that we can tax them for not having pulled themselves up by their proverbial bootstraps. How terribly malthusian!!

    After all, it would never do to expect people like Bloomberg and other affluent executives to make a sacrifice. They worked too hard to get where they got today...unlike the poor and marginally employed.

    I agree with Selena. If you must charge rent, withhold some of that income and put it in a fund for the family when they find their own shelter. Let them know that America continues to embrace the principles of acceptance and cooperation that this country was founded on.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  15. NYPrincessTt

    To Martha-
    I am in the same situation. I work 2 part time jobs to barely make ends meet, and do not receive benefits (insurance) at either job. Now, I am pregnant. I make "too much" money to qualify for medicaide, or most other government assistance programs, for which I would need TEMPORARY help until I am able to go back to work once the baby is born. I am in the position of not being able to receive any temporary help unless I quit one of my jobs well before I would have to stop working due to my pregnancy. So at this point, I am being encouraged not to work. All you angry citizens who are sick of supporting others should be more outraged at HOW the system is set up. It is not designed to temporarily help someone out until they can get through tough times. It is set up so that only the very very poor can get assistance, and those who just need a little help get turned away, or basically told to stop working so they can qualify. I am not sure how I will survive once the baby is born and I am not able to work for several weeks. For all those saying you shouldn't have kids until you can afford it- what gives you the right to tell me that just becuase employers have found a way around insuring their employees that I don't deserve to have a baby? I didn't get pregnant on purpose, but I am not going to have an abortion. In these tough economic times, just having a job is not enough. What if I wasn't pregnant, but had cancer, or kidney failure instead? I still wouldn't qualify for medicaide and would still be facing a period of time when I was unable to work. If I was insured, my pregnancy would be treated as a medical condition, just like cancer or kidney failure. I am NOT a freeloader. I have worked hard all my life. I need to use assistance programs for what they were designed for- temporary assistance, not as a lifestyle choice. We need to advocate for laws that do not allow employers to avoid insuring their workers by only hiring 'part time' or 'temporary staus' employees. We also need to advocate for changes in the system so that people who are working but need a little extra help are encouraged to keep their jobs instead of telling them they don't qualify. I live in an area where there are LOTS of women on the public dole, who continue to have babies left and right so that they can receive public assistance and not have to work. This is my first baby, and all I am searching for is help getting and paying for decent medical care for me and my baby. In order to get that, I will most likely have to quit both my jobs and go on welfare, section 8, food stamps, etc. I DO NOT want to do that, but am being left with little choice, other than to give birth to my baby in the street like a dog. And, I bet that would offend all you good taxpayers who are against people like me 'making babies'.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:40 pm |
  16. Pegaus

    Penny:

    It is obvious your comment is stupid and lacking intelligence.. How does this story has democrat all over it? This is not about democrats and republicans. It's about economics and finances...about a young lady working, living in a shelter, and has been asked to pay rent while struggling. Just because you seem to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn't mean that everyone else has. Some of you people have hearts made of stone. I pray you heartless people never have to have your material things stripped from you and have to succumb to this young lady's way of living. Furthermore, for you mighty and high people, you probably couldn't fathom the idea of becoming poor and would rather commit suicide instead because you wouldn't be able to handle the stress as well as the pressure.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  17. nvlavtr

    The concept is that people making money should use a portion (CNN didn't say how much) of that money to sustain life.

    Am I missing something because that sounds perfectly reasonable to me?

    Many posts disagree with this concept and point a finger at a hardworking rich person. How dare he work hard and earn money. How evil!

    I for one love helping people but would never help someone that was not willing to be take responsibility for them. I work hard for what earn and don't appreciate others dictating what I must do with my earnings. I recognize my social responsibility and generously contribute to others but what are those less fortunate socially responsible for?

    May 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  18. sigh

    Everyone keeps saying that homeless people need an "incentive" to get out of the shelter and move into their own housing. HAVE YOU EVER STAYED IN A HOMELESS SHELTER?? It's incentive enough...rape, violence, drugs. People don't want to stay in shelters, it's horrific. Sometimes circumstances place people in unfortunate positions. Homeless people should not be charged to stay in a hell-hole! ESPECIALLY if they're working and actually trying to better themselves. Unbelievable.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  19. mike

    if shelter is being provided – some small rent can/should be charged from those that have a job. $345 a month might be a bit much – but I do not have a problem with the premise.

    If you think it should be completely free – then you should offer no complaints about higher taxes.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  20. Pegaus

    Dana, stop talking like you are so high and mighty. And never say "never". Because you never know when you will have to depend on the government, friend, or family for some type of support. And perhaps you have depended on a family member or friend for support in your life. If so, then you have depended upon someone...no different from someone depending on the government. Some of you people need to think before speaking. Everything we own is temporary...be it job, house, car, degree, bank account, etc. So stop putting total confidence in things that are temporal. Because in a flash of an eye, it can be taken away from you. Remember Hurricane Katrina and how the rich as well as the poor lost everything in a split second and became homeless and had to depend upon the government. And eventually, some of those people recovered and some didn't. So, again, never say "never" because you could be next.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  21. Uhm...

    Cali Boy-

    That $1000 a month is average for more expensive cities- Chicago, New York, orlando, LA, etc. Not in other places. You're looking at around 600 in other cities.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  22. raymos

    If they are in a shelter, they are not homeless. If they are able to pay, they should pay. Getting free housing does not encourage anyone to "get back on their feet."

    Just like welfare, there must be a limit imposed to avoid the abuse of services that are truly needed by those that truly want to work for a living and have something to offer their communities.

    I didn't complain when my parents asked me to pay rent when I turned 18 yrs old. It encouraged me to get a better job and plan for my future like an adult.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  23. Matt

    There are too many questions left unanswered by the lack of details in this story. First, how much is she making? Second, how much does she NEED to spend? Finally, what benefits does she get that relieve costs she might face with her limited income?

    Chances are, she gets child care reduced or free since she works for a child care establishment. Living in a shelter, she probably also gets a meal each night, maybe one in the morning too. She likely doesn't pay anything in taxes and is probably eligable for all kinds of other low-income services, credits, etc.

    So let's assume then that the amount asked is 30% of her income; that would make her yearly income somewhere between $15,000-17,000... Granted this is NYC where the cost of living is slightly higher than where I live in Washington DC... but even with that, $345 isn't a lot to ask. I make $1100 (after tax/deductions) each bi-week; I lose $875 on rent alone from every other check (dirt cheap by DC standards) and then hundreds on bills, utilities, debt pay off, medical needs etc. $345 doesn't seem like that much to me.

    If we don't charge something, then there is no incentive to better your life; but I'm not callaced to the needs of single mothers with children either–we should make sure the amount is fair and considerate of expenses vs. income, etc. (Also don't forget there are working fathers out there with children and you can be sure the news wouldn't report on one of those hard-working single parents!)

    All in all, this isn't a free country, we're all slaves to the dollar and we have to work to make money to survive. So let's help these people get employed, stay employed, and find a permanent housing situation–but let's not just baby them with no-strings handout's!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  24. Tim

    Hey Angel, don't rant about 'how very Republican'. You ogt your Democratic President and Democratic congress. Complain to them – they instituted this!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  25. KelC

    I agree with the city policy. As a hard working taxpayer I am so sick of seeing my tax dollars supporting other people. I have no sympathy for all of these mothers who are homeless and or have/having children. If you can't afford to take care of yourself what makes you think you can take care of a child? Quit getting pregnant!!!!! There is no excuse in this day and age with all the modern medicine and contraceptive there is available that there should be unplanned pregnancies!! We the taxpayers are already funding all the Planned Parenthood clinics so people like princess who cannot afford contraceptive can get it for free; therefore, leaving no excuses to keep bringing unwanted kids into this world that you can't afford and expect other people to take care of them along with yourself!!! So now that people like princess have a job they still want to live and be taken care of for free! I have a job and I have to pay rent so why should she be any different? Sorry, life doesn't owe you anything and the cycle of free handouts has to stop somewhere, so if you're in a shelter, have an income, then pay up just like every other hardworking American!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  26. Sharon R

    This is not a "shelter." Shelters only let people sleep there. She has a nice thing going for herself and her kid. Why should some people get everything...and others get nothing. Little miss "Princess" paying her way might help others who need help. She has her hand out, but doesn't want to contribute.

    They do not say how much "Princess" is making, but it must be a decent salary for them to ask that much.

    Also, where the "Prince" in all this? Deadbeat daddy should be paying something. That is the real problem with this country.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  27. Sly

    First off, if they can't afford to live in NYC, they shouldn't be living there. Asking someone to pay $345/month for rent in NYC is a bargain. Anyone who is working should be paying their own way. Period. That's what the rest of us do. I'm sick and tired of my tax dollars going to pay for everyone else. Take your bleeding heart liberal crap elsewhere.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  28. Kelly

    For those of you who did not read the original article last week, this woman is only making around $800 a month and now almost 1/2 of her income is going towards the shelter. According to the NYC Shelter Rules a shelter can demand up to 50% of the tenant's wages! For a woman who is supporting a child and trying to get back on her feet this does nothing but extend her stay at the shelter and might even put her on the street.
    While I do agree that charging a percentage of a person's wages for rent will teach proper budgeting and monetary responsibility, anywhere near 50% is too much.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  29. Stacey

    I think all forms fo wellfare should be stopped. The homeless aren't entitled to free housing. Nothing is free people! Someone has to pay for it! Besides, we've made wellfare so easy to receive, she'd be better off quitting her job. Then she'd have the free housing and get wellfare, foodstamps, medicaid, without having to lift a finger!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  30. Donna

    Come on people. Everyone should have to pay for something – $375 might be too much, but she would feel better about herself for being able to take care of her and her daughter's needs if she had to pay for some of it. If she doesn't learn how to pay for rent now, how will she do that when she gets out of the shelfter? Landlords are not okay with not getting their monthly rent.

    I was divorced when my children were babies, but I worked two jobs to make it. It's not easy, but with will and determination, nothing is impossible.

    As far as everyone picking on Bloomberg and where he lives and how much money he has, remember, he worked hard to get where he is – he didn't get there by waiting for it to be dropped in his lap.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  31. Tgraper

    This is a perfect example of Social Darwinism. This woman, as well as many others, has made choices in life that now dictate the type of life she is forced to live. If she would have went to college (if she graduated high school) or joined any branch of the uniformed services she would not be in this predicament now.

    If a city is forced to pay a tax ($2.4 million), despite the fact that they haven't been enforcing it I would do the same thing and so would all of you. If you had to pay for something that you haven't been getting payed for you would all take the same path that the great city of New York is taking.

    I understand that the economy is in a recession right now but it is only $375 a month. When I was 16 I was able to afford that along with child care. She chooses to live in the city of New York, which has a relatively high cost of living, and has the law that tells them to tax working homeless.

    All of the choices in her life have gotten her to the point that she is in now. It is not NYC's fault. She has no one to blame but herself. Especially not any part of the government.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  32. Dorothy

    Michele, we all know where you are going on Judgement Day.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  33. Nomer

    Say Princess makes $800 per month after taxes. Where is that money going? Maybe to the Michael Jordan sneakers she is wearing? I am sorry that she is poor, but so am I. I GUARANTEE she has no money in the bank, either! I am just sick f paying everyone else's bills!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  34. Shawn

    What I think what they should do is just take 7 percent of their monthly paycheck, no matter how much money they make. That way it is fair, I think the ones that have been living at the shelter free of charge should be excepted from this rule. But when new working homeless come around, have them sign a contract ( housing contract) stating the 7 percent rule.

    But yea this rule is stupid due to the fact that they do get funding.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  35. Jessica

    I agree and disagree with the comments made here. I think more information on the law is necessary before I can condone or condemn. I would be inclined to believe that this is perfectly fine and well if ther was an interim period where working homeless are not required to pay rent. For example, you can live in the shelter for six months for free and, after that period, rent is applicable.

    A policy like that would give working homeless time to save money for their own apartments and get their life back on track. I don't know how anyone could consider it reasonable that a working woman calls the homeless shelter her permanent home.

    She says she is working to pay her bills and can't afford the $345 a month. What bills? Working at a day care, I'm sure her daughter gets free or reduced-cost care and, if not, she is certainly eligble for child care aid based off of her income. Making $30k a year, my sister was eligible for reduced-cost care. She probably has a cell phone that she has to pay for (which is actually very important to someone who is probably looking for a better paying job and has a child she cares for). Other than that, I can't imagine that her bills are equal to her pay. Even at $12 per hour, which is fairly low, that is $480.00 per week at 40 hours.

    I guess I'm just confused.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  36. Kim

    The bottom line is our Goverment policies need to be overhauled. They are outdated and will seriously bankrupt the country if they are not fixed. I know people who are on welfare, who have tried to get jobs and save money, only to have their benefits reduced to the point that they had to quit their job. Welfare, and other programs like this shelter are a trap!!!! The programs should be geared toward "temporarily" helping those who need and want help, not handicapping them. They should provide job training, school, and financial saving and planning lessons, while temporarily providing aid and housing, and daycare. Once you have found a decent job, saved enough money, you should be ready for independence. It should not be indefinite. Time limits shouls be set as an incentive for clients to get it together. No one should be a lifelong ward of the governments outdated traps, and the tax payers should not be in-slaved to this garbage. We need a revolution!!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  37. Cali boy

    It's really sicking how all the Republicans on this board come out with their "work hard and stop being a lazy bum" mantras. If ANY of them had ever been homeless themselves, then they would not be saying a SINGLE thing. Once more, this is a case of "knee-jerk" conservatism at its best. People are homeless because of extreme financial need or circumstances. Not everyone who is homeless is a drug addict or alcoholic or gangster. When someone is homeless, you want them to get OFF the streets as fast as possible. In order to do that, they need a job and money. Charging a homeless person rent is going to do nothing but DELAY that–which means that they are going to be homeless *longer*. And to the knucklehead who said that charging a homeless person rent to live in a shelter is teaching them about managing their finances, do you care to EXPLAIN that silly fallicy of logic? A typical (single) homeless person usually does NOT have ANY normal homeowner or renter's finances at all except transportation and food !
    Medical services may be thrown in there also, depending on a person's health. Someone with a child has a lot more to worry about, as medical care for a child is not optional, and neither is getting decent clothing for one. But Electricity? Utilities? Telephone and/or Internet access? Cable service? Lawn and trash maintenance? Hmm...I don't think homeless people have to worry about this. If you're going to make a point, support it with logic and not with emotion.

    Some of you sound as if these people choose to be homeless by choice....

    Anyway, it's this selfish "what's in it for me", "I worked hard in my life, so I don't care about these homeless people, "screw people less fortunate than myself" attitude which is causing the Republicans to become irrelevent in this day and age. You guys are sadly, just 1 or 2 notches to the left from fascism/nazism.

    By the way, the AVERAGE rent for a 1 bedroom apartment in the USA is around 1,000 a month. Someone who is making 14k a month of minimum wage is NOT going to be able to afford an apartment in most areas and REMAIN off the street. Charging the homeless rent is not going to help, folks. In order to live successfully, no more than 40% of ANYONE's income should be going towards rent. That means this person needs to make at least 30,000 a month to be able to live properly.

    Remember we're talking 1 bedroom apartments here. This woman has a daughter...I don't think most Republicans here have schoolage daughters or sons sleeping in the same room as you...considering how you all want your kids to be happy and successful, you give them a room to themselves.

    Sure, you can find apartments for $800 or $900 a month in some areas or states, but do you actually expect homeless people to relocate to different cities or states for this? Hmm...relocation...since when in history has this happened before and who was responsible? The extreme right? I don't even think I need to answer that...

    May 11, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  38. Max

    Victor – If you hit up the right thrift shops, you can pick up $100 pair of shoes for $5-$10. I've purchased a tux at one for $20.

    Where is dad? Cmon people... He could be dead for all we know. No one's exempt from being down on their luck. I had a job at a major manufacturer, but health insurance alone for just myself was $600/mo. I only made $10.00 hour with no overtime, so i couldn't afford it. The company transferred me into the electronic boards processing area. I'm highly allergic to some chemicals used there and the fumes that they produced. I asked to be transferred to a new area, but the company wouldn't. I kept having dangerous reactions and when I needed to take the day off of work to visit a lung specialist, I was fired. Being fired, I did not receive unemployment. I sold off all of my posessions except a few books and my clothes. That netted me a whopping $200 some odd bucks. I skipped out on most of my bills and spent the money to move several states away with family. It stinks, but Im blessed to have had them allow me to do this. I was out of work for 6 months recovering from the affects of that chemical exposure.

    I'm a high school graduate, some college, some technical experience. I've worked a great variety of jobs and have 3 professional licenses. Where I moved to, I can't get a job cutting up pigs because I haven't worked 6 out of the last 12 months and McDonald's told me I'm overqualified. Seriously if a man is willing to work and will do the job, what makes him overqualified? The 2 apartments I had lived in previously had utilities included, provided by the landlord. Here where I am at now, I've found that I can't rent from some places because I can't provide them with proof of having good standing with utilities (duh!). Without my family, I'd be in a similar boat with the Miss.

    Should she live there for free? Nah, but she should live reasonably enough to transition out of the homeless shelter without it taking months on end.

    Major corporations are closing down every day. No one is exempt from that. Unemployment funds and temporary jobs only get you so far.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  39. Tony

    She should have to pay, she has a job! This is a perfect example of our nation becoming more dependent on the government... it should not be that way. Why did the English leave England? To get away from the government there and set up a free, independent nation! C'mon people, get out there on your own and pay your way. Stop relying on the government for everything, we have more important things to pay for, like a photo shoot of Air Force One over NYC ($300+Million)!!!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  40. American Dreamer

    this for kevin littell:

    i've known many homeless people and most of them would be happy to work two jobs so they could have a mortgage and even the dream of sending just one of their children to school. are you going to hire them? oh, i guess not. you're too busy focusing on your own little world to realize that the american myth of 'all it takes is hard work' is exactly that – a myth.

    while there is a lot of opportunity in this country, it isn't available to everyone. large numbers of people are left behind and they need to be addressed in a respectful, intelligent manner that befits the great ideals of our nation.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  41. Marisa

    This has NOTHING to do with Republican versus Democratic partisan viewpoints. Rather, this is an attempt to teach homeless people how to budget and be participants in everyday society. The shelter, which tax-payers are paying for, is asking for less than $400 a month. Why should that be difficult for a working mother who receives an income? How long should a person be allowed to live free in a shelter without financial responsibilities that the rest of the country faces each day? Good for NYC - this is a wise attempt to help homeless people transition once again into being responsible citizens.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  42. Dallas

    I'm sorry but I'm a single mother of two teenagers now , I've been raising my children alone, No child support -since I was 17 years old (im now 34) and I've had to work two jobs in my past.I have been at my job now for 9 years and I still get by slowly but surley ,so there should be no excuss for a single mom w/ a child not to make it out here. It's a creul world but you have to keep strong and keep going. Some folks are plain lazy and just like to live off the system which is not cool.So therefore I don't feel sorry for people like this .

    May 11, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  43. Colleen

    I would probably be a wiser move to help working residents at these shelters to save money monthly. One of the hardest parts about getting an apartment is the security payment upfront, plus one months rent up front, plus securing utilities (they usually want something upfront as well.) Wouldn't this be a better way to go?

    As for the person who said "get a better paying job"....my goodness, you are so full of solutions that make no sense.....you must work in corporate management somewhere.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  44. Uhm...

    Why people are turning this into a religious issue is beyond me.

    God didn't stop the economy from going into a tailspin. God didn't save millions in world wars. God hasn't stepped in to stop the Israel/Palistine conflict.

    If God is there, he isn't going to intervene in the affairs of mere mortals- 'recent' century history has shown as much. Be it part of a 'plan' or cosmic indifference, the result is the same.

    Instead of praying and sitting on your behind, hoping for someone or someTHING else to do your work and bail you out... be proactive and do something for yourself.

    'heaven' only knows if everyone waiting around for 'God' to fix everything we'd be waiting until humanity went extinct.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  45. Nichole

    I have to say, this sounds pretty reasonable to me. As a recent college grad that struggled to find a job, I am not making that much money either. However, I still pay my rent, buy my food, pay my credit card bill, pay my student loans, pay my phone bill, etc. A lot of people are struggling and you just have to learn how to make it work. Paying a small portion of your income towards rent at these places is going to help a single mother learn how to budget and plan which will help her in the future once she leaves the shelter.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  46. Sean Chong

    $345 per month is really nothing. I think it's a good idea to request those with jobs to pay something, $345 is a little bit too much, but what else can you get in NYC? One could easily bring in $1,800 per month in NYC, even illegals can work and earn more than that.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  47. Bob

    Why are we, the people that are paying the bills for this woman, offended by this? I pay a heck of a lot more each month in taxes (the tax money that funds the shelter) than this woman is being asked to pay for her family's care. Not only do I have to pay the taxes to run the shelter, I have to pay my own rent, buy my own food, pay for my own electricity, etc... Social programs are supposed to offer a helping hand, not a hand-out, to those who need it. It sounds to me like that is exactly what she is getting. If I were able to feed myself and my daughter 3 square meals a day and house us for under $400.00 per month, I would say sign me up! For those of us who do pay taxes, I remind you that Princess gets the same tax credit each year for her daughter that we get, even though YOUR tax money pays for her care.
    Lastly... for those of you who believe that this woman is paying for daycare for this child; get real!! You are paying for it. If you believe she pays for medical insurance, get real!! You pay for that too!! Social Programs are everywhere, the MIDDLE CLASS just doesn't know about them... I'm not saying it is a bad thing, THE POOR DO ABSOLUTELY NEED HELP, but don't lie to yourself about how much she pays for Doctor visits, MEDICAID IS FREE TO THE POOR. Don't lie to yourself about Daycare, THE GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZES IT... With YOUR MONEY.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  48. Darin

    Oh sure – when corporate America asked for a bailout, we called it "good business". By all means, we can't let the country go under, so here's billions of taxpayer dollars, oh, and go ahead and make the rich even richer, especially with those lavish parties, and bonuses.

    But when the poor need a handout, it's welfare, and taxpayers start screaming and crying claiming that they have to support the homeless, their children, immigrants, blah, blah. I'd rather have my taxpayer money support less fortunate HUMAN BEINGS out there, than the greedy rich. It's sad to see the government would rather support Wall Street over Queens blvd.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  49. Michelle T

    I did pay ren under my parents, I looking for job during I have pool job which is part-time. I soon will move to group home and I have savings in my name.

    Please do things for yourself!

    May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  50. Veronica Richardson

    $345 in NYC is a steal. This woman is being trained on how to deal with life. She could live much cheaper if she moved to a less expensive area than NYC. Sorry folks, but growing up poor, I do not feel as the rest of you seem to. There are ways this young lady can get a college education in this country. In addition, she made poor choices about having children before becoming educated/married etc. She will have to work hard like the rest of us and suffer in some ways until she can make better choices and get back on her feet. She will have to suck it up. I grew up poor and had to make choices. Having babies and not attending college was not one of them. I do not want to pay for her poor choices. The rest of you that want to, feel free to start a private fund for her.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm |
  51. Timmy

    Bloomberg is not a republican. He thinks he's an Independent now. He can't seem to make up his mind.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  52. julie

    Why is that always poor people are being targeted all the time. How about those big fat CEO bonuses that are paid to those loosers out of our taxes that we worked so hard to pay to the government. How about using those bonuses to creat better life for poor? This country is upside down, makes me sick.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  53. pjh

    Why don't they incentivize the program. Instead of taking money from the homeless you can make them pay rent but keep it in an account for them. Once the account reaches a reasonable level, the person will be required to look for housing and use the money in the account for a security deposit.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  54. kris

    "Everybody else is doing it..."? Good job Mister Mayor. I would have thought your publicity people would have set you up with a better reason that that to take away what little money the homeless are able to scrape together. She is not sitting on a street corner asking for a hand out. She is not doing drugs. She is taking care of her child and trying to pull her life together in order to completely get out of the shelter. What an excellent example of why it is important to pay workers a living wage. Maybe people like this hard-working lady would be better served by a break from the government than the idle rich.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  55. Dan

    The original idea for charging rent wasn't to pay for the facility as suggested by Clint, it was to help rehabilitate individuals and families, getting them back on their feet, with the concept that a portion of their income should go toward housing.

    The fact is, the shelters are always in need of funding and rely heavily on municipal funds as well as donated funds. The clients (yes, they are "clients") portion would better go into a savings fund that, when they have a job that can pay real rent, and provide a life for children, would go for rental deposits, electric deposits, etc. It is these barriers that are most sited for elongating the time required to be living in a shelter.

    In short, take the money to teach discipline, but provide it back to help overcome the odds of failure.

    May 11, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  56. Corwin

    Poorly created and run programs like this – they have created the giant mess we're all in today. It's not one party or the other's fault – it's both their faults. We have a lousy Central government and many lousy state and local governments.
    We continue to create programs where we don't hold people responsible. At least at some level. Everyone should pay for something they receive. If some cannot afford the market value, support them by reducing the cost – but don't give a free ride. Too many people think they are entitled to too many things. You are entitled to nothing but an environment where you have options to work hard and succeed, or not work and languish.
    We must end the entitlement mentality (and the thousands of band aid laws and government groups that encompany it).

    May 11, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
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