New York City is about to take a huge step forward in the fight against homelessness: This week, the Council introduced an amended version of Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr.’s Intro. 1211, which requires that most new housing projects with 41 or more rental units that receive City financial assistance set aside a minimum of 15 percent of newly constructed apartments for homeless households. The bill also requires annual reporting on the number of apartments created for homeless New Yorkers. The Council is expected to vote on the bill next week.
Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier issued a statement conveying the bill’s significance:
“This is a hard-fought victory for homeless New Yorkers, many of whom were on the front lines of this campaign, alongside the advocates and Council Members who refused to take no for an answer. This unprecedented shift will mean thousands of new apartments for our homeless neighbors, at a time when such housing is desperately needed.”
The House Our Future NY Campaign, which is led by Coalition for the Homeless and 68 partner organizations, has significantly contributed to the momentum behind Intro. 1211. For nearly two years, our campaign has urged Mayor de Blasio to create 24,000 new apartments for homeless New Yorkers by 2026, and to preserve the affordability of 6,000 more. Intro. 1211-a will be a key tool to help achieve these goals by requiring the creation of more permanent, affordable housing for the New Yorkers who need it most. House Our Future NY Campaign members, including many currently and formerly homeless New Yorkers, have stood united with our Council allies during countless rallies and hearings, and we are grateful to Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Salamanca, and the many other elected officials who have worked relentlessly on this historic bill.
In response to the news of the bill’s movement, the House Our Future NY Campaign released the following statement:
“One year ago this week, members of the House Our Future NY Campaign linked arms with Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. and staged a sit-in at City Hall to convey the urgent need for the Mayor to create more permanent housing for the record numbers of homeless New Yorkers. Today, the House Our Future NY Campaign applauds the New York City Council’s steadfast leadership in working toward a city where no person goes without a home. By requiring housing developments receiving City financial assistance to set aside at least 15 percent of newly constructed apartments for homeless New Yorkers, Intro. 1211-a will make thousands more affordable apartments available to our neighbors who desperately need them. The Council has been a crucial ally in pushing the administration to do what’s right, and the agreement announced today will give hope to the more than 62,000 New Yorkers currently in shelters and thousands more on the streets – many of whom have been on the frontlines of this campaign. We eagerly await the bill’s passage in the coming week and are committed to continuing our collaboration to ensure that it is implemented as designed. Congratulations and many thanks to Speaker Corey Johnson, Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr., and our many Council allies for treating mass homelessness like the urgent humanitarian crisis it is, and embracing this bold measure to create more apartments for the New Yorkers who need them.”
Elizabeth Kim wrote about the bill for Gothamist:
Based on an analysis of six years of city development data, the Coalition for the Homeless has estimated that the legislation will produce approximately 1,000 new apartments for the homeless a year, adding to the 1,300 units that the city is currently building a year for the unsheltered population.
“This is historic,” Salamanca told Gothamist in a phone interview on Thursday. “We’re going to change the lives of thousands and thousands of individuals.”
Giselle Routhier, the policy director for the Coalition for the Homeless, described the legislation as doing exactly what she and other homeless advocates have been asking of de Blasio.
“It marries the mayor’s housing plan and his homelessness plan, which before were two separate plans,” she said.
All told, since de Blasio took office, the city has financed over 11,700 homes for formerly homeless New Yorkers. Routhier said by her rough calculations, had the legislation been in place six years ago, the city could have produced an additional 8,500 units of housing for the homeless.
“We could have had a lower shelter census than we do now,” she said. “But it’s good that we’re doing it now. We can’t wait any longer.”