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NYC will end rental assistance program in April



Beginning April 1, New York City will stop paying the rent for more than 15,000 families who were once homeless, city officials said Thursday.

The reason: The end of state aid, which the city Department of Homeless Services said was crucial in keeping the $140 million Advantage program afloat.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is planning to cut funding for Advantage under his fiscal year 2011-12 budget.

In a letter sent to the state Thursday, the commissioners of DHS and the Human Resources Administration said the city cannot shoulder the entire cost of the program without state and federal money.

But a spokesman for the governor contends the city can choose to fund the program on its own if necessary.

Advantage started in 2007 and has assisted more than 20,000 domestic violence and homeless New Yorkers move from shelters to actual housing, city officials said. Without the program, the DHS estimates the city will have to deal with an increase in shelter costs and people who may become homeless again. That could cost the city, state and federal governments another $80 million more than simply keeping Advantage intact, the city estimates.

On Tuesday, amNewYork reported that some landlords who receive money through Advantage were having tenants live in poor housing conditions, according to the public advocate's office.

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