This guide to navigating New York City's public services was created with and for families of students living in temporary housing or experiencing homelessness.
Find answers to common questions below:
How do I get emergency housing help?
If your family needs room in a shelter, you must visit the City’s intake center for families with children, the Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) center in the Bronx.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence, there are domestic violence intake centers open 24/7 in all boroughs and a 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline you can call for help.
What does 'temporarily housed' mean?
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?
Being homeless gives your children extra educational rights. New York State law says that homeless and temporarily housed students have the right:
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, and
to transportation to and from school,
as well as other rights under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Can I change my child's school or get transportation?
If you’re living in shelter, a family assistant will help you and your children with school enrollment and transportation.
If you’re not living in a shelter or there is no family assistant in your shelter, there are regional managers who work with schools directly to support students in temporary housing.
"The library is my best friend. You go and you get on the laptops and do some research."
—Cindy, mother of 3
“Make sure you get the person’s name you were talking to in case you ever need to go back to the conversation.”
—Anthony, father of 5
What are the top 8 resources for homeless families?
We asked New York City families who have experienced homelessness to rank the services they found most useful when entering shelter or temporary housing. Here are their top eight resources:
See if you’re eligible for 30+ citywide programs.
Apply for SNAP, Cash Assistance, Medicaid, and more.
Find a local food pantry.
Connect to self-care and mental health resources.
See if you’re eligible for a free cell phone and service.
Sign up for citywide text message emergency alerts.
Get help with homelessness prevention services.
Receive free health services regardless of insurance or immigration status.
“There’s a lot of power in photography. I take photos of all of my applications to avoid a ‘he said, she said’ situation.”
—Rosa, mother of 1
“Every [paperwork] that I get from welfare, from the shelter, from the school, I put in a folder away from the kids. If it’s not in documentation, it never happened."
—Iris, mother of 2
What public benefits are available to me?
Browse free services and benefits provided by New York City agencies.
Which City agencies can help my family?
Learn about New York City agencies and the services they provide.
HOW HRA CAN HELP
Cash, Childcare, DV Help, Food, Health & Wellness, Housing, Immigrant Services, Jobs & Training
HOW DOE CAN HELP
Education, Food, Health & Wellness
HOW DHS CAN HELP
HOW DYCD CAN HELP
Education, Housing, Jobs & Training
HOW DOHMH CAN HELP
HOW ACS CAN HELP
Childcare, Health & Wellness