Nearly Half of All New York Renters Burdened by Housing Cost

report drawn from U.S. Census data shows nearly half of all renters across New York state and the Capital Region are increasingly rent-burdened — meaning over 30 percent of their income goes toward rent — with minority communities experiencing the brunt of that burden.

Nearly half of all minority renter households in Albany, and 35 percent of white, non-Hispanic renters are rent-burdened, according to a report published by the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute.

Across New York state, 46 percent of all families pay over 30 percent of their income on rent, and a quarter of all families pay over 50 percent of their income on rent. In Albany, 27 percent of all minority families — defined as Hispanic, Asian and African-American — spend over half their incomes on rent.

Housing and tenant advocates say families who are rent burdened are inhibited in their ability to cover food and transportation expenses, and children in those homes often have limited educational and recreational opportunities.

Coalition Testifies on Three-Quarter Housing

On Monday, April 29, Coalition for the Homeless and The Legal Aid Society presented testimony before the New York City Council’s Committee on General Welfare and Committee on Housing and Buildings regarding three-quarter houses.

Three-quarter houses are typically one- or two-family dwellings that have been converted to boarding houses by cramming dozens of beds into every corner of the building. These houses are often extremely overcrowded, and frequently have health and safety violations. Furthermore, three-quarter house operators do not always acknowledge residents’ tenancy rights, and some engage in fraudulent use of public benefits. Many three-quarter house tenants have dealt with homelessness, the criminal justice system, or addiction, which makes them particularly vulnerable to landlords who would put their health and safety at risk for the sake of profit. The Coalition and allies have been speaking out against problems in three-quarter houses for several years, but more oversight and enforcement are still needed.

The testimony emphasized the importance of creating safer, more stable housing options for New Yorkers:

The direct referral of homeless individuals from shelters to three-quarter houses has been largely abated due to a rule promulgated in 2010 prohibiting such referrals, in response to heavy pressure from the City Council, which was ready to pass a Local Law to forbid the practice. However, operators have found other sources of residents to fill their beds, including parolees, people with disabilities, people with substance use histories who are seeking treatment, and others who are unwilling to access DHS shelters. Many individuals in three-quarter houses struggle with housing instability, criminal justice involvement, and a lack of access to appropriate health and mental health care and substance use treatment. The lack of appropriate housing subsidies or other paths to stability for this population means that these vulnerable New Yorkers remain trapped in dangerous and unlawful three-quarter houses.

Coalition for the Homeless and the Legal Aid Society therefore support Intro 153-A, codifying a three-quarter house task force with authority to enforce existing laws, provide assistance to residents of three-quarter houses, and report regularly on progress.

Furthermore, the fact that New Yorkers with extremely low incomes struggle to find more stable housing placements than three-quarter houses underscores the urgent need to increase the supply of permanent affordable housing. The continued existence of substandard three-quarter houses is one manifestation of the affordable housing crisis in New York City. We have urged Mayor de Blasio to rectify this issue by committing more of his Housing New York 2.0 plan to homeless and extremely low-income New Yorkers. The House Our Future NY Campaign calls on Mayor de Blasio to set aside 30,000 apartments for homeless New Yorkers, including 24,000 newly constructed apartments, in order to realign his housing plan with the reality of record homelessness. Additionally, the City should accelerate the pipeline of new permanent supportive housing for people struggling with mental health and substance use issues, rather than leaving vulnerable New Yorkers with few choices other than three-quarter houses.

The full testimony can be read here.

De Blasio and Cuomo Are Failures on Homelessness, Report Says

Homelessness in New York City is projected to increase by 5,000 people in 2022 — 7,500 more than Mayor de Blasio predicted when he outlined his plan to tackle the problem in 2017, a new report from the Coalition for the Homeless revealed.

The report — the findings of which the Daily News obtained Monday — projects the spike unless de Blasio “immediately changes course” by increasing the number of apartments set aside for the homeless by 30,000.

The Coalition, which plans to release its report Tuesday, slammed both de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo, giving both failing grades in four categories.

De Blasio got an F for his inability to create more housing. Cuomo received failing grades for his performance on housing vouchers, homelessness prevention and cost-shifting practices that the Coalition claims hurt the city.

“The mayor currently has a completely inadequate plan to address homelessness,” Coalition policy director Giselle Routhier said.

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