Despite his self-professed expertise on the topic and grandiose pronouncements as the homelessness crisis in New York reached record levels, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has racked up a series of staggering homeless policy failures in recent years.
In 2014, Cuomo promised to use the JP Morgan settlement funds for a New York/New York IV Agreement – permanent supportive housing for the homeless with mental illness and other disabilities that began decades ago with an inaugural agreement between Gov. Mario Cuomo and Mayor David Dinkins. But he unnecessarily tied this money to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Legislative leaders that never materialized, and the money was left unspent.
In 2015, the Governor proposed using the very same money for the same purpose. Again, he failed to spend a dime, claiming an inability to reach an agreement with Mayor de Blasio on how to divide the costs of a new Agreement, and at the same time shifting more and more homeless service costs to the City.
In 2016, seeking to out-do de Blasio’s plan to build 15,000 supportive housing units, Cuomo promised with great fanfare to build 20,000 units over the next 15 years and provide $1 billion for the first 6,000 units. But, once again, he tied these critical funds to an MOU.
Now, all indications are that for the third year in a row, he will fail to reach an agreement to spend these funds, even though we have 80,000 homeless people cycling through shelters and living on the streets.
This is far more than a failure to effectively address homelessness – it betrays the hypocrisy underlying Andrew Cuomo’s perennial empty promises to the homeless. Gov. Cuomo, whose promises to the homeless have as much credence as a degree from Trump University, needs to show that he understands that promises mean nothing if you can’t keep your word. Absent the execution of the MOU to release the funds he himself included in the budget, Gov. Cuomo no longer has any claim to be a friend to the homeless or an expert on the issue.
Shelly Nortz, Deputy Executive Director for Policy
Coalition for the Homeless