New York City has quietly begun to enforce a 1997 state law requiring homeless shelter residents who have jobs to contribute to the cost of their temporary housing, the New York Times reports. The move, which follows a 2007 audit that forced the city to return funding to the state, will affect around 2,000 of the 9,000 families in shelters. A state official said the percentage of income was not fixed but would not exceed 50%.
“It’s hard to argue that families that can contribute to their shelter cost shouldn’t,” a city official said. Opponents argue that taking money from homeless residents will keep them in shelters longer, and some families say their rent tops 50% of income. “As a city and a state that has a history of social and economic justice,” one advocate said, “I think we can do better than that.”