Over a hundred thousand individuals and children find themselves in the New York City shelter system every year. In addition to the stress and emotional toll that’s caused by homelessness, these individuals must also navigate the daily challenges and requirements of shelter living and are often vulnerable to unjust treatment from shelter staff and unsuitable living conditions.

CUP teamed up with the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center, and design studio 13 milliseconds to create a foldout poster that breaks down people’s rights in homeless shelters and the different programs available to help them leave shelter and find affordable permanent housing. It also provides resources on other services shelter residents may have access to, like transportation benefits and storage grants, and what to do when your rights have been violated.

Safety Net Project staff, volunteers, and CUP staff launched From Shelter to Apartment with a day of outreach where the guide was distributed at food pantries, libraries, and shelters throughout New York City. The Safety Net Project continues to distribute the poster at different shelters through their Safety Net Activists (a group of members who are currently or formerly living in shelter) and their network of partner organizations who are also working with homeless New Yorkers, and at their weekly legal clinics.

CUP and the Safety Net Project worked together in 2020 to adapt this project into Spanish. You can get your copy here!

Resources & Links

The Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center ensures that New York City’s low-income communities have access to safe and secure housing and fundamental resources like food and cash assistance. The Safety Net Project combines direct legal services, policy advocacy, and community organizing to strengthen safety net programs proven to reduce poverty and homelessness.

13 milliseconds is the fastest time it takes for your brain to process an image. It is also the creative studio run by Sharon Bach and Francois Huyghe. Coming from California and France, the two met in New York and have been working together on a range of projects in print, interactive, motion, and web design. 

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

General support for CUP’s programs is provided in part by The Kresge Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, New York Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Special Thanks

Elijah Bobo, Miranda Grundy, Frampton Tolbert, Craig Hughes, Ina Klein, Adriana Mendoza, Carlos Rivera, Rose, Safety Net Activists, Siyona Ravi, Sada Spence, Jonathan Sunshine, Leigh Taylor


  • CUP
  • Clair Beltran
  • Christine Gaspar
  • Yasmin Safd
  • Ingrid Haftel
    • The Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center
    • Advocacy Partner
    • Kiana Davis
    • Phroska McAlister
    • Helen Strom
    • and with special thanks to Wendy O’Shields
    • 13 milliseconds
    • Designers
    • Sharon Bach
    • Francois Huyghe


    A Guide to Your Rights in Homeless Shelters
    • City Limits
    • February 19, 2020

    The Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center, the Safety Net Activists, the Center for Urban Pedagogy and design studio 13 milliseconds this week released a pamphlet outlining the rights that homeless individuals and families have in New York City. It covers everything from privacy to diet, voting to disabilities, public benefits to income savings; explains supportive housing and vouchers; talks about how to get a fair hearing and how to seek permanent affordable housing.