Maximizing the Benefits of Housing Vouchers in New York City: Grantmaking and Advocacy Strategies for Robin Hood Foundation

Catherine Darin

New York City is facing a crisis of homelessness. The client for this Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), Robin Hood Foundation, wants to help address this crisis by investing in programs and advocating for policies and programmatic changes that will help New Yorkers exit homeless shelters more quickly. CityFHEPS is New York City’s largest rental assistance (i.e., housing voucher) program, which primarily serves low-income households exiting homeless shelters. While CityFHEPS is known to be an effective program for those with vouchers, the problem is that too few eligible households are using CityFHEPS vouchers to exit homeless shelters. While exact data is unavailable, I conservatively estimate that 35-45% of households in shelters who are eligible for CityFHEPS use the program each year. This paper identifies promising opportunities for Robin Hood to improve the usefulness of CityFHEPS for shelter clients given the realities of the City’s constraints.

This paper won the 2023 Best Paper on Housing Prize at the Joint Center for Housing Studies.