NYS Council Request to State Leaders

August 23, 2021

Last week’s NYS Council Member Support and Public Policy call was full of useful information to include discussion of an innovative program being implemented by the NYC Department of Homeless Services that is designed to incentivize homeless New Yorkers to take the COVID-19 vaccine.

Below please find our request to OASAS and OMH to try something very similar to what DHS is doing in NYC.  You will note that while the DHS letter focuses on DHS clients, we are requesting the state agencies target both care recipients and staff for a similar initiative.  We will be sharing this information with the incoming administration in hopes of garnering support for this approach to increasing vaccination rates in mental health and substance use disorder/addiction organizations.

———- Forwarded message ———
From: Lauri Cole <lauri@nyscouncil.org>
Date: Mon, Aug 23, 2021 at 10:24 AM
Subject: REQUEST from NYS Council
To: Emil Slane <Emil.Slane@omh.ny.gov>, Schell-Guy, Trisha (OASAS) <trisha.schell-guy@oasas.ny.gov>, Gonzalez-Sanchez, Arlene (OASAS) <arlene.gonzalez-sanchez@oasas.ny.gov>, Ann Sullivan <Ann.Sullivan@omh.ny.gov>, Moira W Tashjian <moira.tashjian@omh.ny.gov>

Good morning,

As we heard on last week’s NYS Council Member Support and Public Policy call, in New York City the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has found a way to incentivize homeless shelter providers to boost their vaccination rates through the use of bonuses to agencies that increase vaccine penetration of the individuals they serve.  As you will read below, the DHS Administrator identified a baseline for vaccination rates of clients and intends to monitor progress on a monthly basis, with incentives provided based on provider outcomes.  We strongly suggest both OASAS and OMH implement a very similar strategy to increase vaccination rates for both clients and staff.  We know how hard you have worked to increase vaccination rates of the individuals we serve, as have we.  Nevertheless, providers across the state continue to struggle to compel staff as well as the individuals we serve to take the COVID-19 vaccine.  We think implementation of a strategy that rewards agencies that boost their vaccination rates makes incredible sense and we stand ready to work with you to implement such a policy at your earliest opportunity.

Many thanks for your consideration.  I will follow up shortly to see how we can assist you in this endeavor.



From: Administrator Carter <Administrator_Carter@dhs.nyc.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, August 17, 2021 10:09 AM
To: Administrator Carter <Administrator_Carter@dhs.nyc.gov>
Subject: COVID-19 Vaccine-UPDATE
Importance: High

Dear Providers,

I want to start by saying thank you for your continued partnership keeping clients and staff safe over the past 17 months. We value greatly the work you have done to get clients and staff vaccinated, but there is still much work to be done

Our City’s recovery is here – and we all continue to have an important part to play. Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is how our City will bring about an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and continue returning to normal.

As you may be aware, the City has begun offering incentives to individuals now being vaccinated. We would like to extend this offer to you as service providers who play an increasingly important role in combatting vaccine hesitancy among New Yorkers.

With that in mind we would like to offer you the opportunity to earn up to $200,000 in incentives per shelter to increase vaccination rates. Incentives include;

  • $50,000 per shelter that increase their shelter’s vaccination rate by 10 percentage points (e.g. from 20% to 30% vaccinated)
  • An additional $50,000 to shelters that increase their vaccination rates by 20 percentage points (e.g. from 20% to 40% vaccinated)
  • $100,000 for shelters which reach an overall vaccination rate of 70%

Each shelter that earns these bonuses will be able to distribute up to $1,000 in individual bonuses to staff, with any remaining funds going to the shelter’s allocation for programming and other shelter needs.

Vaccination rates will be determined by point-in-time analysis of all eligible clients matched with the Citywide Immunization Record (CIR) by DOHMH. DHS will not be able to share client level vaccination details with you as a result of this match.

Your baseline for vaccination was determined as of July 27th and we will be monitoring progress on a monthly basis, and will share the first update with you by the end of August. This is a time limited opportunity. Language will be added to shelter contracts to allow for distribution of these bonuses.

DHS will be issuing a FAQ with additional information.

The vaccines are safe, effective, and free for every New Yorker, so I encourage everyone to take the vaccine without delay. Your vital work allows for DHS’ mission—helping New Yorkers in need—to reach its full potential, and as always, we thank you for your efforts.


Joslyn Carter, LCSW
DHS Administrator