This is a guide to navigating New York City’s public services. It was made with and for families of students living in temporary housing or experiencing homelessness and the NYC Department of Education’s Office of Students in Temporary Housing (STH).
Find answers to common questions below:
- How do I get immediate housing support?
- What does temporarily housed mean?
- Does housing status change my child’s schooling?
- Can my child get transportation to school or enroll in school closer to shelter?
- How can I feed my family?
- What are the top resources for homeless families?
- What public benefits are available to me?
- Which NYC agencies can help my family?
How do I get immediate housing support?
What does ‘temporarily housed’ mean?
Temporarily housed is a term that can apply to a wide range of experiences. It can describe doubled up living arrangements, meaning you live with a relative or another person because of financial hardship. It can also mean you’re living in a shelter. Many students in temporary housing are living in unstable housing, not experiencing homelessness in a shelter. Temporarily housed students also have extra educational rights.
If a student is living in any of the following situations, they are considered temporarily housed:
- in a shelter, transitional shelter, or motel,
- in a car, bus, or train,
- in a park, a public place, or an abandoned building, or
- doubled up with friends or relatives because you can’t find or afford housing.
Does housing status change my child’s schooling?
Students in temporary housing can continue going to the same school and receive a new school bus route or a MetroCard to get there. They can also transfer to a new school closer to where they’re living and are entitled to immediate enrollment. Students in temporary housing do not need to show proof of residency in order to get help.
By law, temporarily housed students in New York State have the following rights:
- to continue attending the school they were last enrolled in
- to attend their new zoned school
- to not be denied immediate enrollment just because they lack documentation
- to receive transportation to and from school
- to receive free school meals
- additional rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Can my child get transportation to school or enroll in a school closer to shelter?
If you have other questions about your child’s schooling options, contact a Family Welcome Center (FWC). An enrollment counselor can discuss your situation and recommend next steps.
How can I feed my family?
What are the top resources for homeless families?
We asked New York City families to tell us what services they found most helpful when entering shelter or temporary housing. Here are their top resources:
See if you’re eligible for 30+ citywide programs.
Apply for and manage SNAP, Cash Assistance, Medicaid, and other benefits.
Find a local food pantry.
Connect to self-care and mental health resources.
Sign up for citywide text message emergency alerts.
See if you’re eligible for a free cell phone and service.
Get help with homelessness prevention services.
Receive free health services regardless of insurance or immigration status.
What public benefits are available to me?
Browse free services and benefits provided by New York City agencies.
Which NYC agencies can help my family?
Learn about New York City agencies and the services they provide.
How HRA Can Help:
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