The Coalition for the Homeless joined dozens of housing advocates at City Hall yesterday for the release of the Real Affordability for All policy platform. The campaign is urging that Mayor de Blasio’s soon-to-be-announced housing plan embrace strategies to create real affordability for the lowest-income New Yorkers.
The strongest evidence of the worsening housing affordability crisis is the historic level of homelessness in the city. Every night more than 53,000 New Yorkers, including nearly 23,000 children in approximately 12,000 families, sleep in homeless shelters. These are the highest numbers since the City began keeping records three decades ago, and the most since the Great Depression.
One of the primary causes of record homelessness in New York City is the widening gap between housing costs and incomes, as well as disastrous Bloomberg-era policies that eliminated all permanent housing resources for homeless families and children.
Today Mayor de Blasio and his administration have a unique opportunity to reverse these failed polices by embracing the cost-effective housing-based solutions that have been proven to reduce the number of homeless families and individuals in shelter.
As the Real Affordability for All coalition released in the policy platform, this comprehensive effort must include the following initiatives that will help stem the crushing tide of homelessness:
- Prioritize existing Federal and City housing resources to move homeless families and individuals from the shelter system into permanent housing. The City should:
- Resume priority referrals of at least 2,500 homeless households per year to the NYCHA public housing waiting list.
- Resume referrals of homeless households to Section 8 voucher waiting lists, such that homeless households can obtain at least one of every three available vouchers.
- Reinstate the NYCHA waiting list priority status previously granted to homeless applicants for both the public housing and Section 8 voucher programs.
- Track vacant properties and rental units, and put them to use by converting the units to permanently affordable housing.
- Target homeless families and individuals at least one of every five vacancies in existing housing units assisted by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
- Create a new City-State rental assistance program for homeless New Yorkers to supplement existing Federal and City housing resources.
- Create new affordable housing targeted to homeless New Yorkers as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Ten-Year Housing Development Plan.
- Negotiate a new City-State agreement to create permanent supportive housing.
- Convert “cluster-site” shelter units back to permanent housing.
- Invest in cost-saving programs to prevent homelessness.