The Coalition has long called on the City to make full use of all permanent housing resources to turn the tide on record homelessness. In welcome news, the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has announced a new regulation that will help more New Yorkers transition from shelters to permanent, affordable apartments.
Crain’s recently reported that HPD Commissioner Vicki Been has been calling developers who received tax breaks, informing them of a new regulation requiring that they help out in the City’s efforts to permanently house homeless families. The changes will increase the number of affordable units set aside for homeless New Yorkers, and will specifically help people return to the neighborhoods where they last lived before becoming homeless. Combined with the City’s existing rental subsidies and other housing-based initiatives, this change could bring much-needed relief to some of the more than 61,000 New Yorkers who have been struggling to find a path out of shelters.
Crain’s Joe Anuta covered the development:
“This is the latest reform in our effort to address the homeless crisis we face,” said an HPD spokeswoman in a statement. “Addressing homelessness is a moral imperative. These new marketing procedures are another new tool we are using to help reduce the burden for families who are being forced out of their homes.”
The city has struggled with a surging homeless population that topped a record 60,000 this month, with families with children making up two-thirds of that total. And earlier this year, domestic violence surpassed eviction to become the No. 1 reason for being admitted to a shelter, according to Crain’s.
While it is not unprecedented for the city’s top affordable housing official to personally call developers to inform them of a new policy, Been’s entreaties are a sign that the administration is serious about getting this one off the ground quickly and is willing to exert more pressure on companies to comply.
A top de Blasio official has been calling developers of affordable rental buildings about a new regulation that would require them to house homeless families—the administration’s latest attempt to stem the city’s record-setting shelter population.
Vicki Been, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, recently made the calls to a handful of developers who received a now-defunct tax exemption called 421-a, according to sources with knowledge of the calls. The tax exemption requires that at least a quarter of a building’s units be enrolled in the city’s affordable housing program.
Yesterday, HUD released the long-term results of its Family Options Study: the largest experimental study examining the impact of different housing interventions for homeless families. The study was done with 2,282 participants in 12 communities across the United States, with varying housing market conditions. The results paint a fascinating, albeit unsurprising, picture of the most effective solutions to family homelessness.
Findings reveal that long-term housing subsidies are by far the most effective outcome for long-term housing stability, child well-being, and food security, among other benefits.
From the Summary Report:
The 3-year evidence from the Family Options Study indicates that having priority access to deep long-term housing subsidies produces substantial benefits for families. … Relative to usual care, assignment to the [permanent subsidized housing] intervention reduced by more than one-half most forms of residential instability, improved multiple measures of adult and child well-being, and reduced food insecurity.
Other interventions, such as short-term rental subsidies and time-limited transitional housing, were not shown to have significant impacts on long-term stability or any other measures of family well-being, highlighting the important implication that homelessness is primarily a housing affordability problem.
This newest research backs the housing-first approach and should guide New York’s decisions in responding to family homelessness. Namely, the City should allocate a greater share of limited federal housing resources, such as public housing and Section 8, as well as permanently affordable units financed through HPD to homeless families. Additionally, a new proposal put forth by State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi called Home Stability Support would provide a much-needed State-backed housing subsidy program. With a record number of homeless families in NYC shelters, government at all levels must come together to implement solutions that work.