The city’s homelessness crisis has been a major challenge for Mayor Bill de Blasio since he took office in 2014. While the crisis was growing over the course of decades, key decisions were made just a few years before de Blasio became mayor that appear to have accelerated the trend, namely the elimination of city and state rental subsidy programs.
When de Blasio became mayor, he set out to reinstitute rental subsidy programming, among other pieces of his homelessness and housing agendas, which have continued to evolve over the course of his more than four years in office. But, the city’s homelessness population continued to increase, hitting record highs above 60,000 individuals, and de Blasio has faced a great deal of criticism for not handling the issue better, including on specifics like shelter safety, outreach to homeless people on the streets, and attention to homeless students.
In recent months, the speed and force with which the Trump administration and conservative lawmakers have moved to make the lives of people with low incomes harder has been stunning and disorienting.
To name a few damaging policy initiatives: a proposal to punish immigrants for participating in programs like Head Start; closing a Department of Justice office that was created to make legal aid more accessible; repealing guidance to judges that suggested they consider an individual’s ability to pay a fine before allowing her to languish in jail; imposing work requirements and time limits on people who need assistance with health care, housing, or food.
Initial results from a survey on the city’s housing stock provide ample evidence that the city is still in a housing emergency and it’s necessary for rent regulations to be both preserved and strengthened, according to City Council members, de Blasio administration officials and a bevy of housing advocates and tenants at a hearing on Monday.
While everyone present appeared to be in agreement, there were a couple parties that, in written testimony, begged to differ: both the Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program, trade associations representing property owners, say it is high time for the end of rent regulation.