BPs Call On Cuomo To Fund HSS And Curtail Homeless Crisis

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., shared their support on February 20th for Home Stability Support (HSS), which would begin to address the growing homelessness crisis in New York State. Support comes in light of striking new data provided by The Coalition for the Homeless and Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (AD 28) on the increase of homelessness throughout New York state.

There are currently over 250,000 homeless people annually statewide in NY. With 152,839 school-aged children homeless during the 2017-2018 school year, they are the largest population of homeless New Yorkers. Homelessness has devastating consequences for children, leading to longterm health, educational, and developmental hardships that can continue to impact them into adulthood.

Today’s Read: Council Members Call for Home Stability Support

On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, Coalition for the Homeless rallied with dozens of advocates and elected officials in support of a statewide rent subsidy proposal called Home Stability Support (HSS), which would reduce homelessness by bridging the difference between the inadequate public assistance shelter allowance and actual rents for households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. The need for HSS has never been more urgent: Thousands more New Yorkers have fallen into homelessness since Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi first introduced HSS in 2016, and 254,866 New Yorkers experienced homelessness at some point last year. In the face of this record crisis, elected officials from both parties throughout the state have amplified calls for HSS to be finally adopted this year. This week, more than 40 NYC Council Members sent a letter to Governor Cuomo urging immediate action on HSS.

Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier explained, “The best way to reduce the record homelessness crisis is to help New Yorkers avoid becoming homeless in the first place, and house those already displaced. Home Stability Support would do this by targeting housing assistance to serve those in shelters while at the same time also helping the vulnerable families most at risk of losing their homes – including those facing eviction or fleeing domestic violence. Homelessness and its effects cost taxpayers billions of dollars each year, and yet we are making little progress toward reducing the problem. By investing in bold preventive solutions like Home Stability Support, we can save tax dollars while also preventing so much needless suffering.”

Janaki Chadha wrote about the rally for Politico:

A group of City Council members and housing advocates rallied at City Hall Wednesday in support of state legislation that would create a rental subsidy for people eligible for public assistance who are facing a loss of housing.

The legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) and State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), aims to provide financial assistance for households on the brink of homelessness to be able to afford their rent.

Proponents say the program would ultimately be more cost-effective than building shelters, and end up saving taxpayer money.

The group of Council members, led by Steve Levin and Barry Grodenchik, sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday calling on him to support the legislation.

Today’s Read: Bipartisan Group of Elected Officials Calls for New Program to Fight Homelessness

With record homelessness across the state, elected officials from both parties are renewing the push for a statewide rent subsidy called Home Stability Support. HSS would bridge the difference between the public assistance shelter allowance and actual rents for households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi first introduced HSS in 2016, and the proposal has since gained momentum among lawmakers who recognize the urgent need for bold solutions to homelessness. The press release from members of the New York City Council, Borough Presidents, State Assemblymembers, and State Senators can be read here.

Inexplicably, Governor Cuomo has resisted Home Stability Support – instead claiming he is doing enough through his “$20 billion anti-homeless and affordable housing plan” even though the State Division of the Budget has admitted that most of his plan is not new funding above existing levels. Meanwhile, as the Coalition recently testified, thousands more New Yorkers have fallen into homelessness since Home Stability Support was first proposed in June 2016. An astonishing 254,866 New Yorkers experienced homelessness at some point last year, whether in shelters or doubled-up – a number larger than the population of every city in the state except for New York City and Buffalo.

Kenneth Lovett wrote about the recent bipartisan calls for Home Stability Support in the Daily News:

Assembly Social Services Committee Chairman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) for several years has pushed the Home Stability Support program, intended to reduce reliance on homeless shelters by creating a new rent subsidy to keep people in their homes.

The measure, which has widespread bipartisan support in the Legislature and among local government officials, would cost $400 million over the first five years and then $400 million annually to keep it running.

But Hevesi has argued it would ultimately save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by relying less on costly shelters.

Two dozen Assembly members, 14 state senators and 11 city elected officials have joined in calling for the state budget to include funding for the Home Stability Support program.

The city officials include City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and a number of Council members.

“The number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness remains at record levels, and we in city government cannot end the crisis without the support of state officials,” Johnson said.

Among Republicans supporting creation of the program is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Cuomo in November.

Citing federal statistics, Molinaro said the state’s homeless population increased more than 40% between 2010 and 2018.

“It is clear more must be done to not only serve homeless individuals but to prevent homelessness,” Molinaro wrote in a letter of support.

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