Since 1979, when a homeless veteran of the Korean war successfully sued the city for failing to provide him with shelter, the city has had a legal duty to house those unable to afford a home. (New York’s state constitution says that “the aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its subdivisions.”) In recent years the number of homeless people has grown. Whereas rents increased by 18% between 2005 and 2015, incomes rose by 5%. When Rudy Giuliani entered City Hall in 1994, 24,000 people lived in shelters. About 31,000 lived in them when Mike Bloomberg became mayor in 2002. When Bill de Blasio entered City Hall in 2014, 51,500 did. The number of homeless people now in shelters is around 63,000.
As New York City battles a homelessness crisis, with 60,000 people in shelters, a statewide proposal to drastically reduce and prevent homelessness is gaining groundswell support. On Monday, dozens of faith leaders from across the state signed a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, calling his attention to that plan, the Home Stability Support program.
The HSS proposal, sponsored by Democratic Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi of Queens, would replace the state’s existing patchwork system of rental subsidies with a single supplement for families and individuals who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. It would apply to those receiving public assistance and people facing evictions or homelessness because of hazardous living conditions or domestic violence.
President Trump’s 2018 federal budget recommendations, released last Thursday, include deep cuts to programs geared toward aiding low-income, urban, elderly and storm-ravaged citizens, sparking fear and fury across the city about what they would mean for the five boroughs.
The signature aspect of the budget — titled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — is a “vital” $54 billion increase in defense spending to “rebuild” the nation’s military, a promise Trump often made during his campaign.
To offset that rise in funding, four departments — Energy, State, Agriculture and Labor — saw a proposed cut of 21 percent or greater, while 19 agencies face elimination.