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Supported by New Yorkers for Children

Choosing the Kind of Apartment You Want to Move Into

Finding an Apartment on Your Own

Terms You Should Know When Looking for an Apartment of Your Own

Programs that Can Help You Find an Apartment

Programs That Can Help You If You’re In Danger of Becoming Homeless

Programs that Can Help You Pay for an Apartment

Public Housing

Supportive Housing Programs for Young People Who Have Aged Out of Care

Emergency and Supportive Housing Programs If You Have Left Care and Are Under 21

Other Supportive Housing Programs

New York City Homeless Shelters

Introduction

When you’re leaving care, often the scariest question you have to ask yourself is where you will live and whether you will find a place you feel comfortable coming home to. You wonder, How will I afford my rent? Will I live by myself or with a friend? Will I rent a whole apartment or just a room? Will I move back home with my family?

Saving money and finding an apartment that you want to move into can be a long and hard process, so it is important to start planning early. But you are also not alone in this process. Listed below are resources that can help you find an apartment and help you pay your rent once you find one. And if you find yourself in a jam and have nowhere to go, there are several emergency options to consider.

If you don’t want to give up all the support you’ve had in foster care, there are also apartments you can move into that are designed just for former foster youth. They are not only cheaper than many other apartments around the city but they also provide support services, like job counseling, health and mental health services, and help finding your next apartment. [See Housing Programs for Young People Who Have Aged Out of Care, below, for more details.] But if you are interested in one of these options, it is important to start planning early—even a year or more in advance—because many of them have long waiting lists.

There are other housing options in the city. They include supportive housing for people with mental or physical disabilities, apartments in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) projects, homeless shelters, and others. The important thing is to find the housing situation that will work for you so you’re not moving from couch to couch or sleeping in the park. That will take planning. The resources listed here can help.

Choosing the Kind of Apartment You Want to Move Into

In New York City it is hard to find decent housing at an affordable price. As a result, we have to ask ourselves a lot of hard questions. Can I live in a neighborhood where I feel safe? Can I live in a neighborhood that’s not too far from everyone I know? Will I live alone, with friends or family, or will I live with strangers? We even wind up asking ourselves questions like, Can I sleep on the couch? Should I room with this guy even though he’s kind of sleazy?

Then there are all the personal questions we have to ask ourselves, such as: Can I handle living alone? If I move in with a roommate, are we capable of working things out? Will I be able to pay bills on time? Will I feel too lonely in a place of my own?

Before we start looking for a place, we have to answer what kind of place we want to live in and what kind of place we’d be willing to live in. Some of us have dealt with group apartments and foster apartments for so long that we know the only thing we can tolerate is an apartment of our own. But there are also other options to think about when you’re considering moving into an apartment that might be better and cheaper. These include:

Sharing an apartment: Apartment shares can be great or they can be rough, depending on whether you and your roommate have similar needs and habits, and whether you can work out your differences. Consider sharing an apartment with a friend. If you don’t know anyone who is interested in sharing an apartment, you can go to a roommate service, which will charge a fee for finding you a roommate, or you can look at the apartment listings on Craig’s List or other online services. (www.craigslist.org)

Word to the wise about sharing: Some people have a harder time with apartment sharing than others. Often boys will live in any mess and get along just fine, while girls seem to have more definite standards and expectations about how to keep an apartment. Different people also have different feelings about how roommates should behave toward each other—such as sharing clothes or inviting friends over. If you’re planning to share an apartment, talk about your expectations with the other person and learn what they expect from you before you commit to moving in together.

SROs: SROs (stands for Single Room Occupancy) are buildings or hotels where you can rent a single room. Landlords usually try to rent out these rooms on a daily basis at a high daily rent, but in some cities there is a way to become a ‘‘rent stabilized’’ tenant in an SRO at a reasonable weekly rate.

College dorm/off- or on-campus housing: If you go away to college you can live in a dorm or in an off-campus apartment, which can be a lot cheaper than an apartment in the city. Also, many colleges have bulletin boards or housing offices that list apartments for rent or people looking for roommates.

What housing does ACS pay for if you’re in college? If you’re going to college outside of the city, and you’re age 18 to 21, and you have not signed yourself out of care, the room and board payment that ACS would have sent to your foster parent or group home is sent to the college instead. That should cover room and board in your dorm. If you're going away to a college without dormitories, the room and board payment that ACS would have sent to your foster parent or group home can be sent directly to a landlord. In other words, ACS will pay for off-campus housing if your college has no on-campus housing.

However, college housing can be a complicated issue (for example, if you're dorming, where do you stay on vacations?). If you will be attending college outside of the city (congratulations!), be sure to talk with your foster parents and your caseworker to get all of the arrangements straight before you head off to school.

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Finding an Apartment on Your Own

To read Scott Burke's story on finding an apartment, click here.

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Terms You Should Know When Looking for an Apartment of Your Own

Efficiency: a one-room apartment with its own bathroom, but not necessarily a complete kitchen. You might share a kitchen with others.

Studio: a one-room apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom. Basically you live and sleep in one room.

Broker’s fee: The amount of money you pay an apartment broker or realtor for finding you an apartment. Remember: If you don’t use a broker, you don’t pay a broker’s fee--which can be steep, often more than one month's rent. Read apartment notices on telephone poles. Ask friends for tips. Look on www.craigslist.org. Try to avoid that broker’s fee!

Credit check fee: The landlord may check your credit rating and charge you a credit check fee of about $25. (This is a routine check into your financial status, and does not indicate whether you were in foster care.)

First month’s rent: Just that—the first month’s rent, which you pay the landlord before you move in.

Security deposit: This is usually equal to one month’s rent, but some landlords require more. The deposit money is returned to you after you move out, unless the landlord keeps the deposit to pay for unpaid rent or damage to the apartment.

Lease: A written contract that the tenant (you) and landlord sign, requiring the tenant to live in an apartment for a specific period of time (usually one to three years) for a set amount of rent.

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Programs that Can Help You Find an Apartment

If you are not getting the help you need finding an apartment or are having no luck on your own, these places can help you with your housing search.

ACS Office of Housing Support and Services (HSS)
Housing Eligibility Unit

150 William St., 8th Floor
Manhattan

Housing Support & Services (HSS) works with foster youth under the age of 21. Youth may walk-in to our office located at 150 William Street, 8th floor for housing assistance during normal business hours. HSS Housing Specialists provide one-on-one assistance with submitting New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing applications for Public Housing. In addition HSS staff will assist applicants in applying for the ACS Housing Subsidy.

Edwin Gould Academy Multi-Service Center
55 E. 110th St.
212-828-2173
Contact: Gloria Lattimore, Assistant Director

This multi-service center for youth who have aged out of foster care has a housing specialist who can help you in your search for an affordable apartment once you register for their program.

Note: Edwin Gould also has a small transitional housing program of its own.

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Programs That Can Help You if You’re in Danger of Becoming Homeless

Sometimes our best plans go wrong. We fight with our boyfriend or girlfriend, who also happens to hold the keys to our apartment, and we end up out on the street. We get sick, miss work, and no longer have the money to pay the rent. We move into an apartment we think will be ideal, only to find we have a creepy landlord. If we’re lucky, we have time to start the whole housing process over again (some luck!). But sometimes we find ourselves homeless or close to homeless without a moment’s notice.

If you find yourself homeless or in danger of becoming homeless, there are programs that might be able to help you find a stable place to live again. They may not be able to make all your problems go away, but they often know about resources that most of us don’t.

The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA)
1-718-557-1399

If you’re in a financial crisis and can’t pay your rent (or come up with the rent, security deposit and fees for a new apartment), the Human Resources Administration (HRA) may be able to help. In emergencies, HRA provides no-interest loans that cover one month’s rent (or rent, security deposit, and broker’s fee for a new apartment). You must pay back the money steadily over one to two years. It is important to take this into account when you make a decision to accept the loan. But it is also a good resource if you are in a temporary financial crisis.

HRA’s requirements include that you have a steady source of income, that the lease to the apartment is in your name, and that the apartment is affordable given your income.

To see if you are eligible for an emergency “one-shot deal” call 1-718-557-1399. Explain your housing situation to them. If you are eligible, you will need to go to a public assistance office to apply for the loan.

BronxWorks
60 E. Tremont Ave.
Bronx, NY 10453
718-731-3114

BronxWorks' Homeless Outreach Team provides services to anyone who is homeless, from counseling to assistance finding shelter. When you call, ask to be connected directly to someone from the Homeless Outreach Team. For more information, call 646-393-4073.

BronxWorks is part of the HomeBase program that helps people who are homeless. Click here for a map of HomeBase resource centers in New York City.

Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS)
198 E. 121st St.
Manhattan 10035
212-801-3300

CUCS helps homeless people with mental illness and other special needs gain access and maintain permanent housing. The database has over 10,000 housing units. Applicants must be 18 years or older.

Housing Works
57 Willoughby St., 2nd Fl.
347-473-7400 TTY: 212-925-9560

Housing Works provides services for persons living with HIV/AIDS or at risk of HIV/AIDS who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. There are workers available who speak Spanish, and Sign Language. Click here for a full list of their locations.

Housing + Solutions
4 W. 43rd St., Suite 316
Manhattan 10036
212-213-0221

Provides services to homeless women and families who are in recovery from substance abuse and who may have criminal justice histories.


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Programs that Can Help You Pay for an Apartment

Paying rent in New York City can be rough. So many people want to live here that rents have gotten higher and higher. Luckily, this is one of those times when being a foster youth or a former foster youth can actually make life easier. That’s because the government has decided that you are eligible for special financial assistance to pay for your apartment.

ACS Housing Subsidies

Those interested in applying for the subsidy should ask their caseworker to contact ACS at 212-341-3548.

Families with active foster care or preventive cases--including independent living youths--along with their Case Planners and Children's Services' Case Managers can meet face-to-face with HSS specialists on a walk-in basis during business hours Monday-Friday at 150 William Street, 8th floor in Manhattan.

You are eligible for an ACS housing subsidy if you’re between the ages of 18 and 21 and on trial or final discharge to Independent Living. When you receive a housing subsidy you may be able to qualify for up to $300 per month for a maximum of three years to help you pay your rent. This program also offers a one-time special grant of $1,800-$3,600 to cover moving expenses and broker's fees.

NOTE: Section 8 Vouchers were discontinued in 2009. People who got Section 8 funding before then can continue to receive it, but no new vouchers are available.

Emergency Housing Resources

The New York City Human Resources Administration
1-718-557-1399

If you find yourself in a financial crisis and are unable to pay your rent (or cover the rent, security deposit and broker’s fee for a new apartment), New York’s Human Resource Administration may be able to provide you with assistance. In emergency situations, HRA provides no-interest loans that cover one month’s rent (or rent, security deposit, and broker’s fee for a new apartment). You will need to pay the money back steadily over one to two years, and it is important to take this into account when you make a decision whether to accept the loan. But it is also a good resource to know about if you are in a temporary financial crisis.

Among HRA’s requirements is that you currently have a steady source of income, that the lease to the apartment is in your name, and that the apartment is affordable given your income.

To see if you are eligible for an emergency “one-shot deal,” call 1-718-557-1399. Wait until the message offers you a menu; press 1 for the main menu, and then 4, for public assistance and emergency help. If you are eligible, you will need to go to a public assistance office to apply for the loan.
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Public Housing

Note: You must apply for public housing through your agency housing liaison. Check with them for current rules.

Youth in care have priority in receiving public housing. Public housing means projects run by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). As you probably already know, these projects range widely in their size, location, safety, and general desirability. You can download a Public Housing Application online, call 718-707-7771 to request an application be mailed to you, or visit one of the offices below. If you want to live in public housing, talk to an expert at your agency to learn more about what you should do and what your options are.

Click here to go to the NYCHA website and learn more about applying for public housing.

Bronx/Manhattan Customer Contact Center
478 East Fordham Road (1 Fordham Plaza), 2nd Floor
Bronx, NY 10458
718-707-7771
Mon.- Fri. 8am - 5pm

Brooklyn/Staten Island Customer Contact Center
787 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11238
718-707-7771
Mon.- Fri. 8am - 5pm

Queens Customer Contact Centers
90-27 Sutphin Boulevard, 4th Floor
Jamaica, NY 11435
718-707-7771
Mon.- Fri. 8am - 5pm

Public Housing for People with AIDS

Persons with verified AIDS can call the HIV/AIDS Services Administration ServiceLine at 212-971-0626 for further information on housing or other services.

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Supportive Housing Programs for Young People Who Have Aged Out of Care

Tanya Soto

Almost all teens want to go out on their own. They want to get their own apartment or go to college (or maybe run away with Prince Charming). Yet living on your own is serious. If you’re unprepared, going out on your own can cause more harm than good.

That’s why some organizations decided to create supportive housing just for young people leaving foster care. OK, we know what some of you are thinking: once you leave care, you don’t want to have anything to do with the foster care system or anyone in it ever again, let alone live in a whole apartment complex of former foster youth. But the truth is for most 21-year-olds, being totally on your own for the first time is hard. The programs listed below let you get used to independent living in affordable apartments (often cheaper than anything else you can find around the city). At the same time, they offer supportive services to help you succeed, including job counseling, health care, and mental health care. They can also help you find an apartment when you decide you’re ready to take the next step and be completely on your own.

Some of these programs have open houses so that you can get a feel of the place yourself. You can also call and ask to make an appointment for a tour.

The biggest problem is that it can take several months to over a year to be accepted into some of the apartment programs. Also, the programs can’t tell you exactly how long you’re going to have to wait. That’s because rooms open up only as residents move out. If you are interested in living in one of these supportive housing units, it is important to apply a year or more before you want to move in. If you think you might be interested but are not sure, there’s nothing to lose by applying. That gets you on the waiting list.

Schafer Hall
Manhattan
117 E. 118th St. (Between Lexington & Park Aves.)
212-828-3007

Schafer Hall, housing single adults as well as families, combines studio apartments with services including employment and educational support and medical and mental health referrals. If you’re 18-23, you must be on trial or final discharge, and must also have a job. Unless you have enough income, you’ll have to show proof of your eligibility for an ACS housing subsidy. Call for more info.

The Chelsea Foyer at the Christopher
202 W. 24th St. (Between 7th & 8th Aves.)
Manhattan
For more information, contact:
646-485-3943 (for SILPs)
646-485-3949 (for apartments for youth)

The Foyer has apartments for 40 young people, ages 18-25, including those who have aged out of care as well as young people in SILP placements, for up to 24 months. Services range from job training to housing placement services. It it run by Good Shepherd Services and Common Ground.

Edwin Gould Academy Residence
55 E. 110th St.
Manhattan
212-828-2173

A permanent residence for young people, ages 18-25, who have aged out of foster care or the juvenile justice system. There are 36 studios for single individuals and 15 one-bedroom apartments for single individuals or single parents with one child. Working applicants only. Those interested in applying must provide a completed application, an up-to-date psychiatric or psycho-social evaluation, and employer verification. Apartments range in price from about $400 to $600 per month.

The Dorothy Day Apartments
583 Riverside Dr.
Manhattan
212-568-2030

Dorothy Day Apartments is one of six rent stabilized permanent housing projects developed and managed by Broadway Housing Communities (BHC). BHC provides supportive housing for young and elderly, independent and disabled, working and dependent individuals and families. There are 240 single rooms and studio apartments total. (Family apartments rarely become available.) Eligibility is based on being a low income worker and/or having a Section 8 voucher. Tenants provide 24/hour management coverage through a front desk service. This is part-time employment opportunity, in which nearly one fifth of the tenants participate. The six properties are located in the communities of West Harlem and Washington Heights. Call above number for more info.

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Emergency and Supportive Housing Programs if You Have Left Care and Are Under 21

If you signed yourself out of foster care before your 21st birthday and are now struggling to find a place to live, you should be able to return to your agency if you are still under 21. Talk to your agency and fight to get back into care if that’s what you think is best for you.

If you cannot or do not want to return to foster care, and are now struggling to find a place, there are several programs throughout the city that serve youth 18-21 who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. These programs usually provide housing for 12 to 18 months, and they will also help you figure out what you need to do to become more stable in your housing situation once you leave their program.

Covenant House
460 W. 41st St.
Manhattan 10036
212-613-0300

Located in Times Square, this 24-hour multi-service walk-in center for adolescents under 21 can provide short-term housing.

SCO Independence Inns
Three locations in Brooklyn and one in Queens
718-827-8465
718-437-6746

Safe Horizon's StreetWork Project
800-708-6600

Streetwork Harlem Drop-In Center
209 W. 125th St.

212-695-2220

Lower East Side Drop-In Center
33 Essex St.
646-602-6404


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Other Supportive Housing Programs

Providence House (Transitional Housing Program)
703 Lexington Ave.
Brooklyn 11221
718-455-0197

A transitional housing program housing homeless and abused women and children. Locations include Brooklyn, Queens, and Westchester County. Residents are helped in searching for permanent housing and receive assistance in obtaining entitlements, life skills, employment, and computer and educational training. Applicants must be referred by the New York City or Westchester County Department of Homeless Services.

Common Ground
Residences in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, South Bronx
1-800-324-7055

Housing in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, South Bronx provided to low-income working people, formerly homeless, etc. Call the Central Intake Hotline above for an application, or download an application online.

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More Information
For more information on supportive housing in NYC, check out the Supportive Housing Network of NY.


New York City Homeless Shelters

NYC shelters provide three hot meals a day, beds, showers, and clothing for men (age 21 and over) and women (age 18 and over) who are in need of emergency shelter. To be accepted into a shelter you must first go to the intake facility. If you have exited a shelter less than 12 months before, you have to go back to the last shelter you were at. The intake facilities for single adults are open 24 hours, seven days a week, including holidays. Bringing ID is strongly suggested, though not required.

For further assistance dial 311, or visit the Department of Homeless Services website.

Intake Facilities

30th Street Intake (Men)
400-430 East 30th Street/1st Avenue
Entrance is now at 30th St. and 1st Avenue
Manhattan
Subway: 6 to 28th St.

Franklin Shelter (Women)
1122 Franklin Avenue (near East 166th Street)
Bronx
Subway: 2/5 to 149th St., then #55 bus to 166th St. & Boston Rd.

HELP Women’s Shelter (Women)
116 Williams Avenue (between Liberty Avenue and Glenmore Avenue)
Brooklyn
Subway: C to Liberty Ave.

Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) Office
(For families with children under 21 AND pregnant women)
151 E. 151st St.
Bronx

Subway: 2, 4 or 5 to 149th St. - Grand Concourse

Adult Family Intake Center (AFIC)

(For families with no children younger than 21)
400-430 East 29th St.
Manhattan

Subway: 6 to 28th St.

Drop-In Centers

Drop-Ins provide hot meals, showers, laundry facilities, clothing, medical care, recreational space, employment referrals and other social services. Staff also can help you find a safe and secure place to sleep.

Manhattan

Mainchance
120 East 32nd Street in East Midtown
Subway: 6 to 33rd St.
Open 24 hours

Olivieri Center
257 West 30th Street near Penn Station
Subway: 1/2/3/A/C/E to 34th St.-Penn Station

Open 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Bronx

The Living Room
800 Barretto Street (at Lafayette Avenue)
Subway: 6 to Hunt's Point Ave.
Open 24 hours a day

Brooklyn

The Gathering Place
2402 Atlantic Avenue
Subway: A to Broadway Junction

Staten Island

Project Hospitality
150C Richmond Terr.

Directions: When exiting Staten island Ferry terminal, turn right onto Richmond Terrace; Project Hospitality is a 3-5 minute walk. Also served by S40 and S44 buses.


 

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