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COREY Bates lost his apartment when the rent was increased. His work hours were cut. So in January 2015, he jumped when a non-profit agency referred him to a programme called Back on Track that promised him temporary housing and a permanent home in six months.

There was just one catch: Like everyone else, Mr Bates, then 32, had to go to an outpatient substance-abuse programme every day for treatment that he said he did not need. He stayed for more than seven months, sleeping on the top bunk in a four-bedroom Brooklyn home crammed with about 30 men, some of whom were drug addicts who relapsed to be able to keep their housing, Mr Bates said. Only gradually did he realise that no permanent...

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