NYC revises rules for homeless seeking shelter

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The city Department of Homeless Services will permit families with children deemed ineligible for shelter to stay overnight before vacating -- lengthening the previous four-hour deadline -- under a policy change announced Tuesday by agency Commissioner Gilbert Taylor and Public Advocate Letitia James.

"It gives them a moment to think about what the next morning will bring," Taylor said at a lower Manhattan news conference, adding that the families now have more time to appeal the decision.

Taylor called the change "more compassionate."

The department also has created a shelter eligibility checklist and will establish a hotline with information about the intake process.

Typical reasons for ineligibility include failure by families to provide enough information about their circumstances and the department finding that they have "alternative housing" options -- with relatives, for example, Taylor said.

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The city's decisions this past winter to provide shelter to ineligible families during storms and cold weather shed light on why the deadline to vacate should be lengthened, he said.

James said the changes help to provide "dignity to families."

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