THE BRONX - The Department of Homeless Services is making changes to its system to improve how the homeless population is treated.

Commissioner Gilbert Taylor announced the changes along with Public Advocate Letitia James on Tuesday afternoon.

The goal is to promote fairness and make the system more transparent.

One of the biggest changes is to the "four-hour rule" regarding overnight stays. In the past, anyone determined ineligible for an extended stay at a shelter had a four-hour window to leave. Now they are permitted to stay overnight.

To help people coming into the shelter better understand why they do or do not qualify, the agency is now using a checklist.

The department will also utilize a hotline service to offer support to those who need it most.

A spokesperson for Commissioner Taylor says the department is in the process of establishing that support hotline. It is hoped the hotline will be up within a few months.