New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new “shelter in place” program, allowing domestic violence victims and people fleeing domestic violence situations to stay at shelters in the state at no cost, according to his office. The program will be expanded and state-funded within the next fiscal year.

Though domestic violence shelters currently receive state funding from the state through the Health Department’s Department of Social Services, it was not an arrangement that everyone was happy with, particularly when it came to terms about rent. According to NY State Senator Thomas McGee, domestic violence shelters pay landlords monthly rent in exchange for free rent, with most landlords charging at least $1,000 in rent each month for non-emergency services.

The shelters typically don’t take in such clients for long, if at all, as they are funded through state, and federal budgets, only until they have paid off their rent bill, sometimes for decades. In response, the shelters began to rent state-subsidized quarters of hotels so they could remain open, but those residences require inspectors to ensure adequate sanitation. The substandard living conditions made it hard for the shelters to continue offering shelter as they were frequently cited for running out of room. The “shelter in place” program aims to address this problem by accepting clients at state-funded facilities with that option in place.

Though the program is being rolled out as a joint effort between Cuomo and state agencies, activists emphasized that local nonprofits would still be responsible for running shelters in their communities.

“This is a testament to both Governor Cuomo and the many agencies he has entrusted to fight against domestic violence,” said Erin McCarthy, President of the New York Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in a statement. “After 20 years of battling the neglect of housing subsidies for victims, this initiative will provide a sorely needed lifeline to the millions of domestic violence survivors in this state.”

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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