Today’s Read: Advocates Hope for Last-Minute Homelessness Push

As the State legislative session draws to a close today, much work remains in combatting the homelessness crisis across New York. While this session brought major victories – such as the release of funds for the first 6,000 supportive housing units of Gov. Cuomo’s 20,000-unit commitment, thanks to months of persistent advocacy by the Coalition for the Homeless and others – lawmakers failed to bring to fruition other policies that could reduce homelessness statewide. Notably, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi’s innovative Home Stability Support proposal – a statewide rent subsidy to bridge the difference between the woefully inadequate public assistance shelter allowance and actual rents for households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions – was not included in the budget despite broad bipartisan support and proven fiscal savings. Assemblymember Hevesi and advocates will continue to fight for its passage next session.

Supportive housing and Home Stability Support were among the key State recommendations in the Coalition’s annual State of the Homeless report, but the scale of the homelessness crisis demands robust responses from all levels of government. In order to help the more than 61,000 people who will sleep in NYC shelters tonight, the City must increase the number of public housing placements for homeless families from 1,500 per year to at least 3,000 per year and the number of Section 8 and HPD resources to at least 2,500 annual placements. Sign our petition to urge the City to increase the number of public housing units for homeless families.

Coalition for the Homeless’ Policy Director Giselle Routhier highlighted these and other recommendations during a June 14th panel discussion. Dan Rosenblum covered the panel for City & State:

Giselle Routhier, policy director at Coalition for the Homeless, said the state hasn’t been doing its part. Between 2011 and 2017, the total cost of sheltering homeless single adults increased by $263 million and the city shouldered 90 percent of that increase, according to Independent Budget Office statistics cited by Coalition for the Homeless.

“The state can move forward more quickly on developing its supportive housing and really implement and authorize the development of all 20,000 units immediately, as the city has done,” she said.

In addition, Routhier suggests that the state authorize municipalities to expand the Disability Rent Increase Exemption program to include households where disabled members aren’t the head of household.

But City Hall has been pressured to be more involved as well: The Coalition for the Homeless has urged it to place more homeless in public housing and affordable housing units, extend subsidies to more at-risk tenants and create a capital development program to finance the construction of at least 10,000 units of affordable housing for the formerly homeless.

Advocates Hope for Last-Minute Homelessness Push

Advocates are pushing state legislators to pass bills and embrace partnerships and proposals that would chip away at the homelessness problem before the state legislative session ends Wednesday.

As the number of New York City residents in homeless shelters has exceeded 60,000, the city and state have sparred – in subtle and not-so-subtle ways – to address the problem. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has pledged to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over a 10-year period and proposed a plan to open 90 additional homeless shelters over the next five years. Meanwhile, the state has committed to building 20,000 units of supportive housing over the next 15 years, the first 6,000 units of which have been funded in this year’s state budget.

Strengthen Rent Regulation Rules Amid Homeless Crisis, Task Force Urges

The state’s outdated rent stabilization rules aren’t enough to stamp out the city’s soaring homeless crisis — as skyrocketing rent prices let owners drop out of the program once a vacant unit’s price hits $2,700 per month, according to a new report calling attention to the needs of homeless children and their families.

Advocates estimate that 150,000 rent-stabilized units were taken off the rolls in this way between 1994 and 2012 and say the law gives landlords a direct incentive to evict tenants, according to the report released Monday by the Family Homelessness Task Force.

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