On June 13, 2019 the Safety Net Activists released important data and analysis about the harmful “transfer” practices imposed on people living in NYC’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters. The release included a draft report written by the former Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) Leticia James in fall 2018. The draft report, which is based on City data of tens-of-thousands of transfers and more than 80 qualitative surveys with homeless individuals, shows an overwhelming pattern of abusive disregard for agency policy and the impacts on the lives of those in NYC shelters. It also shows a City practice of serial displacement of those without homes.
The former OPA’s unfinished and unreleased report, and the data underlying it, show that homeless families and individuals are often arbitrarily and forcibly moved across the City from one shelter to another, often with no notice or reason provided, and no ability to contest the move. These transfers have caused and continue to cause homeless New Yorkers to lose their personal property and suffer significant health, educational, and employment setbacks. The data also shows an impression among many of who have experienced transfers that DHS punitively uses the administrative transfer process.
Families with children, as well as single people living in shelters, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect while they seek permanent housing. They do not want to be involuntarily moved across the City at a moment’s notice and given a trash bag and one-way Metro Card (to carry whatever they can of their personal belongings) on a bus or train.