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NYC To Cancel Rent-Subsidy Program; Thousands Of Families Could Flood Shelter System

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City is cutting off rent-assistance payments to about 9,000 homeless families following a court decision, and advocates warned Friday the move could flood the city's shelter system.

The city announced its decision to cancel the Advantage rent-subsidy program in March after it lost state and federal funding, but until this week it had been forced by a court order to continue the payments while legal challenges to the decision played out.

An appeal in the case is set to be heard next week, but on Thursday a judge ruled the city could proceed with its plans.

On Friday, advocates warned that many of the families would be forced to enter the city's shelter system. Most of the families had entered the program with the understanding that their payments would end by the summer of 2012.

The city's decision "will mean a surge of entries to our homeless shelters, which are already close to the breaking point," objected Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in a statement.

Mary Brosnahan, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, said that continuing the program would have been cheaper than putting people in shelters.

Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond said in a statement that the Advantage program is too expensive for the city to support without help.

"The city taxpayers have borne alone the extraordinary cost of this program since the withdrawal of state and federal funding almost a year ago," he said. "We will continue to work aggressively to prevent and end homelessness in the absence of state and federal assistance."

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(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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