Today’s Read: Amid de Blasio’s Modest Goals on Homelessness, State Proposal Gains Support
The urgency of the homelessness crisis is clear, with both Mayor de Blasio and the City Council releasing plans this week dealing with shelter siting. As the Coalition has consistently reiterated, the focus must be on permanent housing solutions to prevent homelessness and enable people to move out of shelters quickly. Accordingly, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi’s bold Home Stability Support proposal would establish a statewide rent subsidy for public assistance households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. By narrowing the gap between woefully inadequate public assistance shelter allowances and fair market rents, HSS would keep New Yorkers in their homes and thereby save tax dollars by avoiding costly shelters. A new analysis from NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer found that HSS could save hundreds of millions of dollars over time and dramatically reduce the shelter census – far greater than the census projections outlined in the Mayor’s recent plan. This underscores the need for the State to fully partner with the City to combat homelessness.
The State made some progress in rectifying the inadequacy of its current housing supports when it announced a settlement earlier this week to substantially increase the monthly rent subsidies for households in the Family Eviction Prevention Supplement program, but HSS would take the necessary next step by assisting families outside NYC and thousands of others not covered by the FEPS settlement. The compassionate and cost-effective HSS plan has already garnered bipartisan endorsements across the state. You can add to this momentum by signing our petition calling on Governor Cuomo to support HSS.
Nikita Stewart wrote about the growing support in The New York Times.
For a family of three receiving the basic shelter allowance of $400 a month and paying a fair-market rent of $1,637 for a two-bedroom apartment, the $1,237 gap is well out of reach, Mr. Hevesi said, and a potential push toward homelessness.
An analysis by the office of Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, found that over 10 years, Mr. Hevesi’s plan could cut the city’s shelter population by 80 percent among families with children and 40 percent among single adults.
Hitting those numbers, which are well above Mr. de Blasio’s modest goal of reducing the shelter population by less than 1 percent a year, could lessen the need for the 90 new shelters the mayor proposed this week to help cope with the 60,000 people straining the city’s main shelter system.
“The de Blasio administration is doing the best they can, but they need help,” Mr. Hevesi said. “We can’t keep building shelters to get our way out of this.”
According to the mayor’s most recent management report, it costs about $44,000 a year to shelter a homeless family. Mr. Hevesi estimates his plan’s cost at about $11,000 a year for a family of three.
The analysis by Mr. Stringer’s office showed that the plan would yield future savings for the city, including about $316 million in the 10th year.
Mr. Stringer said the analysis showed that the city could improve on Mr. de Blasio’s goal with the state’s help, though doing so would require subsidy recipients to find affordable units. “If you can’t do more, you need to seek out partners,” he said.