Charging Rent for a Homeless Shelter? Help Stop Mayor Bloomberg’s Absurd Plan

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to charge homeless families “rent” for shelter has earned national ridicule. Salon magazine featured the Mayor’s plan in their “This Week in Crazy” column. And a Newsweek writer labeled it the “Stupid Idea for the Day.”

Locally, El Diario wrote a strong editorial condemning the Mayor’s misguided plan as “a triumph of ideology over common sense.” And WNBC’s legendary newsman Gabe Pressman declared, “City Hall’s latest edict on the homeless is neither fair nor sensible nor humane.”

Fortunately, there’s still time to make sure that Albany stops the Mayor’s absurd plan from becoming a reality. Thousands of people have signed the Working Families Party’s petition urging State Legislators to block the shelter rent rules.

On Friday the WFP sent out a message from New York State Assemblyman Keith Wright, who, along with State Senator Daniel Squadron, is leading the charge for legislation that will prohibit the City of New York from forcing homeless families to pay “rent” for shelter. Assemblyman Wright urged New Yorkers to sign the WFP petition and to ask everyone they know to do the same.

This week, the Coalition’s Mary Brosnahan also wrote to supporters asking them to sign the petition.  Here’s Mary’s message:

More and more New Yorkers are outraged by Mayor Bloomberg’s misguided plan to charge homeless families rent to stay in shelters.*In fact, Bloomberg administration officials admitted last week that the Mayor’s plan would force homeless families to pay as much as $926 per month for emergency shelter!

But thanks to you, we’re making progress on stopping this absurd plan.

New York State Legislators, led by Assemblyman Keith Wright and Senator Daniel Squadron, are advancing legislation to prohibit the City from charging “rent” for emergency shelter. On Friday, Assemblyman Wright sent out the following message:

“It should be obvious: a homeless shelter is where you go when you can’t pay rent.

“I’ve been working for months with other NY state legislators to stop Mayor Bloomberg’s shocking plan to charge rent at New York City’s homeless shelters. And I have to say, it’s so heartening to have the phones ringing and emails flooding in from people like you.

“We’re just weeks or even days away from the vote that could stop this terrible idea in its tracks — but we still need your help.”

Please join thousands of other New Yorkers by signing the Working Families petition — then forward this to everyone you know:

Albany has the power to stop this plan dead in its tracks. But we don’t have much time. Please sign the petition, and forward this to other New Yorkers:

Mary thanks,

Mary Brosnahan
Coalition for the Homeless

National Low Income Housing Coalition Releases “Out of Reach 2010”

This week the National Low Income Housing Coalition released its yearly report, Out of Reach 2010. The report presents a stunning picture of how truly unaffordable New York is to low-income families–a trend that is also pervasive across the country.

The data analysis shows that in the New York Metropolitan area, a household must make an hourly wage of $26.13 in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent (FMR). This amounts to a yearly salary of $54,360–a number that is way beyond the reality for low-income families. In fact, the report calculates the yearly income for Extremely Low Income families to be $19,464, according to standards set by HUD. Following these numbers, it is therefore not suprising that nationwide, 71% of low income renter households spent more than half of their income on rent.

Another interesting tidbit mentioned in the summary of the report states that from 2001 to 2007, nationwide high-rent rental housing stock increased by 94.3% while affordable rental housing stock decreased by 6.3%. Nowhere is this more obvious in New York City where we now are forced to look at dozens of near empty luxury buildings at a time of record homelessness.

Overall, this report is not good news (albeit not surprising news) for the record homeless population in New York City, but we hope the presence of data in this stark form will help illustrate the dire situation.

Read the whole report here.

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