Coalition Testifies on the Preliminary Budget and HPD’s Role in Addressing Homelessness

The severe lack of affordable housing throughout New York City is a major driver of near-record homelessness. City efforts to address the affordability crisis must be expanded and accelerated to meet the unprecedented need and alleviate the suffering of over 62,600 men, women, and children languishing in shelters.

On Wednesday, the Coalition for the Homeless and The Legal Aid Society submitted testimony to the New York City Council’s Committee on Housing and Buildings regarding the preliminary FY 2018 budget for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Although the City has implemented various initiatives including a suite of rent subsidy programs to help keep people in their homes and enable others to move out of shelters, it has failed to fully mobilize the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in the fight against homelessness. In order to match the magnitude of the need, it is imperative that HPD allocate more housing resources to help homeless families and individuals, while simultaneously and rapidly developing more affordable housing specifically for homeless households.

As the Coalition and The Legal Aid Society testified:

The City cannot succeed in turning the tide and achieving meaningful reductions in homelessness until the Department of Housing Preservation and Development becomes a full partner in addressing homelessness. As part of a Citywide comprehensive plan to permanently house homeless families and individuals, HPD must 1) greatly increase utilization of its existing housing resources for homeless families, including increasing stable housing placements from shelter with Section 8 vouchers and HPD-financed units to at least 2,500 placements per year, up from less than 1,000 currently; and 2) create a new capital development program to finance construction of at least 10,000 units of affordable housing for homeless households over the next five years.

In addition to a desperately-needed increase in the number of NYCHA public housing placements for homeless families, the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development must also play a much more prominent role in combatting homelessness. The only way for the City to actually reduce homelessness is for all of the relevant housing agencies to bring the production of permanent housing for homeless families and individuals to the fore. The status quo, slow, and anemic efforts to provide new permanent affordable apartments for homeless New Yorkers have proved ineffective given the scale of the problem and the economic underpinnings of record homelessness. New York can do much better.

The full testimony can be read here.