Across the country, nearly 3.5 million young people experience homelessness in a given year. Experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity can have a profound impact on a young person’s ability to pursue their passions and goals, and achieve economic stability in the long run.
For New York City’s young adults, the challenges of affording to live in one of the country’s most expensive cities — especially when combined with experiences of systemic discrimination, family trauma, and inadequate support systems — can make it extremely difficult to plan for their future. Today, nearly 15 percent of CUNY students experience homelessness, and more than half have unstable housing. How do these experiences impact a young person’s ability to pursue higher education and earn a living-wage career?
Hoping to better understand how to answer to that question, we spoke with more than 80 young people across the five boroughs about housing insecurity, and how it can impact college access and success. We heard about the stresses of unstable housing, and how colleges, housing providers, and other programs can be inflexible to the reality of those stresses.
These conversations highlight a lot of important changes that need to be made to ensure New York’s higher education works for today’s students. But they also highlight the resourcefulness of young New Yorkers, and the knowledge many had — and wanted to share! — about existing supports for young people experiencing housing insecurity in New York as well as organizations working to change systems. We worked with some of these young people to compile this list of resources.
Have any feedback on this list, or want to get more involved? Reach out to Young Invincibles’ Northeast Policy Analyst, Melanie Kruvelis: email@example.com.
This post was written by YI-Northeast Policy Fellow and MSW Elena Callahan and Carina Taveras, a 2019 graduate of Hunter College and organizer with the Welfare Rights Initiative.
Resources and Supports to Help You Stay in College (See Our Post on the Application Process and Financial Aid)
New York has several Opportunity Programs to make college more affordable, some that cover the costs beyond tuition. You can speak with someone at CUNY for more info here.
- CUNY ASAP (2-year program)
- CUNY SEEK (for 4-year college)
- CUNY CD (for 2-year college)
- ACE at John Jay (for 4-year college)
- CUNY Start (if you have a remedial course to take) (FAQs)
- Math Start (if you have a math remedial to take)
Independent Colleges and Universities
- HEOP (Higher Educational Opportunity Program)
- Foster Youth College Success Initiative (Youth Matter) for students who have been in the foster care system who are already enrolled in EOP, HEOP, CD, or SEEK.
Resources on CUNY Campuses
- Homeless Services Resource Guide
- General resource guide via Brooklyn College on food pantries, single stops, and emergency loans (geared towards immigrants, but relevant to anyone seeking these resources)
- LaGuardia Community College Hunger and Homelessness Resource Guide.
- Carol and Milton Petrie Student Emergency Grant Fund
- On your school’s website search for this fund which may provide a grant based on several situations including homelessness or sudden loss of housing.
- CUNY Edge (for those on public assistance, they support you with academics, getting your benefits, and more). Apply for HRA (public benefits) here.
- Single Stop (Currently on community college campuses and John Jay College).
- For foster care youth — The Dormitory Project (NY Foundling & Queens College Partnership)
- Medgar Evers provides shelter assistance for homeless students.
- See the video here about Medgar Evers Transition Academy
- To find out more about the way that Medgar Evers supports homeless/housing insecure students contact:
- Director of Transition Academy Dr. Edward Hernandez, Student Support Specialist Waleek Boone at firstname.lastname@example.org and 718-270-6988
Students with Disabilities
- CUNY LEADS academic career program for students with disabilities on all CUNY campuses (they can also provide referrals to Access VR).
- LaGuardia Community College Office of Disabilities.
- Food Pantries (Gov Cuomo announced they will be available on all CUNY/SUNY campuses).
- BMCC Food Pantry (Article about this pantry)
- Hunter College Food Pantry
- Bronx Community College Food Pantry (Single Stop Houses the Food Pantry).
- Guttman Community College
- 2019 Article on various CUNY Food Initiatives
- Food Vouchers (vary by campus, check with food pantries or Single Stops. Often given through the campus’ Student Emergency Grant Fund)
- Medgar Evers (via Transition Academy-see above)
- Wellness Center at John Jay College
- Bronx Community College (Go to Single Stop, on a case by case basis can receive food voucher or Stop & Shop card)
- LaGuardia Community College (go to the single stop).
- Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm distributes fresh produce in partnership with the Single Stop on campus to KCC students.
- Corbin Hill Food Project at Brooklyn College.
- Hostos Community College (via Single Stop)
Women’s Centers at CUNY
- CUNY Childcare Centers
- Childcare through CUNY Women’s Centers.
- Affordable on-campus childcare at LaGuardia Community College
- Resources for LGBTQI students at CUNY
- CUNY Leadership Programs (Black Male Initiative, Malave Leadership Academy, etc).
Undocumented Students, Dreamers
- CUNY Dreamers (a network of support for undocumented students)
- NYS Dream Act passed allowing undocumented students to apply for state aid! (see more on Part 2 of this post)
Student Advocacy/Organizing on Campuses in CUNY
- CUNY Food Security Advocates (goal is to end food insecurity among CUNY students)
- Featured in Teen Vogue article “7 College Activists Fighting Food and Housing Insecurity on Campus
- Welfare Rights Initiative (offer student advocacy and leadership training programs)
- CUNY Rising: a coalition of students, faculty and community organizing for a free and quality CUNY.
- CUNY Dreamers
Other Resources in NYC
- Generation NYC Guide for Youth Experiencing Homelessness (provides a list of resources to find a place to stay as well as youth drop-in centers. The Door is an example of one of several options as well as Streetwork Project.)
- Over the age of 24 and need housing/shelter immediately?
- Coalition for the Homeless provides the steps to take and contact info to get into a shelter. They also have a crisis intervention program where you can walk in and get help. They also provide support with eviction, disability issues, and more. Here is a resource guide.
- For single adults, you can access the city shelter website here to learn about intake (also on the Coalition website). There are several shelters with a focus on specific needs which you can find out through the intake process)
- CUCS provides housing resources for families and individuals with mental health and other needs.
- For Families with Children, apply here for Temporary Housing
Seeking Permanent Housing?
- Breaking Ground is an organization that offers supportive housing and low-income housing.
- HomeBase: Homelessness prevention program through CAMBA which offers several additional services to individuals and families.
- Community Kitchen in Harlem (free meals, community pantry, SNAP application + more)
- Swipe Out Hunger Project (on select campuses across the country)
- Food Pantries Across the City (on page 9)
LGBTQ Homeless Youth
- List of Centers from Generation NYC website. (including The Door, The Center, Hetrick Martin Institute, Queens Pride House).
- New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth
- Ali Forney Center
- Legal Services by the Urban Justice Center at various drop-in centers.
- Apply through the Human Resources Administration (HRA).
- If you are an immigrant, here is a Community Guide to HRA Public Benefits for Immigrants.
- Another online resource about public benefits for Immigrants.
- Pathways to Success
- CHIPS (meals for all and shelter for mothers)
- WIN: For homeless women and children
- New Yorkers For Children runs the Back to School Package Program, which connects former foster youth with a laptop, MetroCard, and a gift card for textbooks.
- Free Coats for the Homeless
- Professional wardrobe and interview clothes:
Mental Health Organizations and Housing
- Brooklyn Community Services
- Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC)
- CAMBA (among other resources)
- Community Counseling & Mediation Services
- Lenox Hill Neighborhood House Women’s Mental Health Shelter
- New Providence Women’s Shelter
- Community Access – NY
Domestic Violence Organizations and Housing
- Good Shepherd Services
- Safe Horizon
- Siena House
- New Destiny Housing
- New York Asian Women’s Center
- Rainbow Center Inc Of New York in Flushing, NY
Advocacy and Organizing That Intersects With Housing Insecurity and Post-secondary Access
- Urban Justice Center-Mental Health Project
- Degrees NYC (collective action project to achieve equity in postsecondary access and completion)
- Coalition for Homeless Youth
- Community Voices Heard
- 5th Avenue Committee