Housing is a Human Right

Housing is a human right, and government policies must be designed to facilitate the fulfillment of that right in New York. The right to shelter provides a foundation of decency in New York City, but the time has come for our elected leaders to take the next step. All levels of government must guarantee access to housing and end homelessness by adopting the following policies:

  • Fund universal rental assistance as an entitlement
    • The Federal government must fund Section 8 vouchers as an entitlement for all eligible households.
    • In the interim, any City- or State-funded subsidies should match Section 8 payment standards and allow each tenant to continue receiving this assistance until their rent equals 30 percent of their income.
    • Eligibility for rental assistance should be as broad as possible, without exclusions based on immigration status or conviction history.
    • Eligibility for all rental assistance programs must be based on one’s lived experience of homelessness, rather than limited, for example, to people residing in Department of Homeless Services shelters.
  • Develop and maintain enough permanent supportive housing for everyone who needs it
    • The City and State must build upon their supportive housing commitments by accelerating the development timelines and increasing the goals:
      • The City must complete the creation of 15,000 new units of supportive housing by 2025 rather than 2030;
      • The State must create at least 1,400 new supportive housing units and preserve at least 600 supportive housing units each year for the next 10 years.
    • The Federal government and the City must eliminate all bureaucratic barriers to placement in supportive housing, including by relaxing the standard for documenting unsheltered homelessness.   
  • Produce more deeply subsidized affordable housing
    • The Federal government must restore its former role in housing production and preservation by reversing the Reagan-era budget cuts.
    • The City must ensure that a significant share of the administration’s housing plan is set aside for homeless and extremely low-income households, going above and beyond the project-level minimums in Local Law 19 of 2020.
    • The City must invest at least $4 billion per year to fund a comprehensive affordable housing plan, as described by the United for Housing platform: u4housing.thenyhc.org
    • The City must ensure that new apartments are accessible to people with disabilities, that people with disabilities are helped to secure accessible apartments suited to their individual needs, and that existing apartments are modified to achieve maximum accessibility features wherever possible and whenever a housing unit is being preserved under any City program.
    • The City must develop all types of housing with a range of unit sizes configured to accommodate single adults as well as large and small families.  
  • Target existing housing resources to homeless and extremely low-income New Yorkers
    • The City must give homeless New Yorkers the highest priority for available NYCHA public housing apartments and other subsidized rental housing.
    • The City must ensure sufficient, well-trained staff to connect homeless and at-risk New Yorkers to permanent and supportive housing, and streamline the process for accessing assistance and moving out of shelters so people do not face needless delays.
  • Create a robust housing safety net to prevent homelessness
    • The State and City must ensure effective reentry planning for individuals being released from prisons and jails in order to identify viable housing options prior to each individual’s scheduled release date, and fund the creation of supportive housing specifically for individuals reentering the community after incarceration.
    • The City must enforce existing housing discrimination laws and pass legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of an arrest or conviction record.
    • The City must sustain investments in rental arrears payments for low-income households facing eviction to help people avoid homelessness.
    • The City must ensure that the funding of right to counsel legal services providers enables them to represent all income-eligible tenants facing eviction.