In these dire times, even the homeless are now being charged to stay at homeless shelters.
That's the situation in New York City where city officials this month began charging rent to working families staying in public homeless shelters.
The policy stems from a 1997 state law that hasn't been enforced until now. Under that law, shelter managers started to require families to pay a portion of their income, depending on the shelter and family size, according to The New York Times newspapers.
Residents could be expected to pay up to half their earnings.
Some shelter residents say the new rule will ruin their chances of saving enough money to get an apartment.
One single mother living in a Manhattan shelter tells the newspaper she got a letter saying she had to give up $336 ($A440) of the $800 ($A1050) she makes each month as a cashier.
Vanessa Dacosta makes $8.40 ($A11) an hour. She got a letter under her door at the shelter a few weeks ago saying she'd have to fork up nearly half of what she was bringing in.
For Dacosta, who pays nearly $100 ($A131) a week on child care for her 2-year-old, paying the shelter is hardly an expense she can afford.
“It’s not right,” Dacosta told the Times. “I pay my baby sitter, I buy diapers, and I’m trying to save money so I can get out of here. I don’t want to be in the shelter forever.”
But the city says it's got to find a way to cover the costs of state housing aid.
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