Council Bill to Increase Homeless Housing Has Enough Sponsors to Override Veto

A bill that would substantially increase the amount of housing set aside for homeless New Yorkers now has enough sponsors in the City Council to override a veto, as the de Blasio administration remains resistant to the idea.

The legislation, introduced by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, would require developments receiving city subsidies to set aside 15 percent of housing units for the homeless. Proponents say increased housing supply is needed to address the city’s enduring homelessness crisis, but the de Blasio administration argues the bill would hinder its ability to produce affordable housing.

With 34 Council Members now signed on in support, a Council vote on Intro 1211 could override a mayoral veto, presuming all the current sponsors vote in favor.

“I think we caught [the city’s] attention when we got it veto-proof,” Salamanca said Tuesday. “The message is clear now, that the majority of the City Council knows that this is the direction this administration should go in.”

Council Speaker Corey Johnson has stopped short of publicly backing the bill, but he has called for more homeless-specific housing in the mayor’s affordable housing plan. The existing plan to build or preserve 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026 — which some critics say has left out the city’s most vulnerable populations — sets aside 5 percent of all units for the homeless.

“If we don’t increase the set-aside, we’re likely not going to get out of this shelter population plateau for potentially years,” Johnson said in October.

Salamanca said Johnson has told him that he is supportive. A Council spokesperson said the Speaker supports increasing the set-aside and is reviewing the legislation.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has said it already requires city-subsidized developments to set aside 10 percent of housing units for the homeless, as laid out in agency term sheets. Legislating an increased requirement, the department has said, would take away the flexibility it needs when working out financing for affordable housing developments.

“I do have real concerns about the mechanism proposed in [the bill],” Molly Park, deputy commissioner for development at the agency, said at a hearing earlier this month.

“Our term sheets must remain highly flexible to respond to outside factors in addition to our policy changes,” she said. “Adding additional layers of restriction through unbending legislation, while other factors fluctuate widely, will make these deals increasingly difficult to complete.”

Salamanca said he was unconvinced by the city’s arguments at the hearing, but plans to sit down with the housing agency and mayor’s office to further discuss the bill.

The city did not have a specific comment on the veto-proof majority.

(via PoliticoPro New York)