Four Things the City and State Can Do Right Now to Address Record Homelessness

Today, the City announced a grim milestone: More than 60,000 men, women, and children are now sleeping in Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelters each night.[1] New York City has a legal right to shelter that means the shelter census will rise and fall to match the need. This record number thus reflects the tremendous need for affordable housing that continues throughout New York City, especially for the lowest-income New Yorkers.

It should be noted, however, that the permanent housing programs introduced by the current administration have succeeded in moving thousands of people out of shelter. In the absence of those programs, the City would have hit this milestone months ago, and many thousands more would be in shelter tonight. But it is clear that the City and State must marshal all solutions on a scale that matches the unprecedented need. Here are four things the City and State could do now to address this ongoing and record need:

  • The City should utilize more of its available housing resources to house homeless families, including available NYCHA public housing, Section 8 vouchers, and units under HPD’s portfolio, to reduce the number of individuals and families in shelter;
  • Landlords must cease illegal discrimination against tenants who receive rental assistance as a form of income, and the City must take aggressive enforcement actions against those who do;
  • State leaders must immediately release the nearly $2 billion sitting idle for crucial supportive and affordable housing resources;
  • The State should adopt Assembly Member Hevesi’s statewide Home Stability Support plan to provide rent subsidies for low-income households at risk of homelessness as well as those staying in shelters, outside, or doubled-up in the home of another.

[1] Not including safe havens, stabilization beds, and veteran’s beds. See the Coalition’s own data tracking methodology here.