Council Members and Homeless Advocates Rally Support for More Housing for the Homeless at Council Hearing

NEW YORK – City Council members, Coalition for the Homeless, VOCAL-NY, Urban Pathways and other advocacy groups stood on City Hall steps today to call on the administration to commit to more housing for the homeless. The Committee on Housing and Buildings held an oversight hearing today and heard testimony from the administration and the public on Council Member Salamanca’s bill, Intro 1211 which would require developers who receive any city dollars to set aside at least 15% of the units for the homeless.

“It’s clear that we as a City need bold strokes to help our fellow New Yorkers out of homelessness,” said Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. “New York City has reached a record high population of homeless people sleeping in shelters nightly and this all happened under the Mayor’s watch. His housing plan is clearly not serving some of the neediest New Yorkers, and I hope today’s hearing on my bill brings us one step closer to addressing this crisis.”

“I applaud Council Member Rafael Salamanca for leading this critical effort to dedicate more housing for homeless New Yorkers. Our city’s homelessness crisis is a crisis of affordability: the majority of people who live in shelters are seeing their average length of stay go up because they cannot find a place to live. We need more permanent affordable housing for the city’s lowest-income residents, along with greater support for people leaving shelter. The urgency of the problem requires a bold approach, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in government to pass this much-needed legislation,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.

“New York City’s homeless crisis has climbed to record numbers all while the mayor has time and again resisted calls to commit more resources to care for tens of thousands our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” Council Member Francisco Moya said. “This issue is a symptom of the housing emergency that continues to starve working-class New Yorkers and the solution must be commensurate with the crisis. I applaud Council Member Salamanca and the housing advocates who have stood steadfast in the fight for fair housing. If the mayor refuses to do the moral thing here, we will do it for him.”

“Tonight, as temperatures drop below freezing, almost 64,000 men, women and children will sleep in homeless shelters across New York City. Our ongoing affordable housing crisis is a disgrace, and despite the current construction boom, there is no clear-end in sight. More aggressive action is desperately needed, as is accountability to New York City’s taxpayers and residents, who help to subsidize development projects but continue to struggle through this crisis. I am very pleased to support Council Member Salamanca’s legislation, and thank him for pushing for greater accountability on the part of both developers and the City,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

“We have a duty to our children, families, and city to provide housing for homeless New Yorkers,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Nearly 64,000 people in New York City sleep in homeless shelters each night – 24,000 of them children. We have got to do more for the homeless in our city, which is why I’m proud to support Council Member Salamanca’s legislation to require developers who receive financial assistance from the city for housing projects to set aside at a minimum 15% of created or preserved dwelling units for homeless individuals and families. Thank you to Council Member Salamanca, the Coalition for the Homeless, VOCAL-NY, Members of the House Our Future NY Campaign, and all the advocates and supporters who continue to push for change.”

“Our City is facing a homelessness crisis,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “Any developer seeking assistance from City government should share in the burden of addressing this humanitarian problem. This is why I am proud to co-sponsor Intro 1211, which will ensure that those who benefit most from the construction of new housing will assist New Yorkers who are struggling to put a roof over their heads. I commend Council Member Salamanca for his commitment to helping those seeking that most basic of things; a home.”

“Our city is in the midst of both a homeless crisis and an affordable housing crisis, which is why it is critical we support all efforts to expand our housing stock for formerly homeless individuals and families. I wholeheartedly support Introduction 1211 and look forward to working alongside Council Member Salamanca and my colleagues to pass this legislation,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

“We will not solve the ongoing housing crisis in New York City without prioritizing how it affects homeless New Yorkers. That means not just focusing on short-term, band-aid solutions like building expensive shelters or paying huge sums for hotel space, but getting housing developers, especially those seeking city funds, to provide more affordable housing. As the Mayor said last week, there’s plenty of money in this City, so let’s make sure it goes into the right hands, our homeless neighbors,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“New York City’s homelessness crisis is currently at record levels. Without immediate action that creates deeply subsidized permanent housing, this crisis will only continue to grow with no end in sight. We applaud Council Member Salamanca for introducing legislation that would provide the practical tools needed to help homeless individuals and families obtain housing in our city. His legislation will go a long way toward helping us reach the House our Future NY Campaign’s goal of setting aside 30,000 units of the Mayor’s housing plan for homeless New Yorkers, including 24,000 units to be created through new construction. While Mayor de Blasio drags his feet, failing to take the long-overdue action to address this crisis, we are most grateful to the entire Council for their continued leadership and advocacy on behalf of homeless New Yorkers,” said Giselle Routhier, Policy Director, Coalition for the Homeless.

“Councilmember Salamanca’s bill is the bold action on homelessness that I and many others have been waiting for,” said Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, Community Leader at VOCAL-NY.  “On January 1st, I began another year homeless with no clear path out of the shelter system. The House Our Future Campaign has been saying for months that we need at least 30,000 housing units from the Mayor’s affordable housing plan, to be set aside for homeless families and individuals–Intro 1211 would get us one step closer to that goal. If Mayor de Blasio continues to deny homeless New Yorkers housing, our City Council is proving it will step up to meet our needs.”

“No plan to combat the crisis of homelessness in our city is complete without a robust commitment to dedicated housing resources for homeless families and individuals. HSU is grateful to Councilman Rafael Salamanca, Jr. and Stephen Levin for sponsoring Intro. 1211 which would require developers receiving financial assistance for housing development to set aside 15% of units for homeless individuals and families. Ensuring the neediest New Yorkers are able to benefit from new housing development is essential if we hope to succeed in turning the tide on homelessness,” said Catherine Trapani, Executive Director, Homeless Services United.

“New York City has reached record levels of homelessness, with 63,000 adults and children sleeping in the shelter system every night. Intro. 1211 is a step in the right direction toward moving New Yorkers out of shelters and into the permanent homes they deserve. The City’s provision of more affordable housing for low and very low-income households is the only means to a long-term solution to homelessness. Urban Pathways supports this legislation and thanks Council Member Salamanca for his efforts to create more permanent affordable housing for our City’s homeless community members,” said Frederick Shack, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Pathways.

“The answer to the City’s current crisis of record homelessness is more affordable housing. The City should turn the page and begin to use all of its resources to help homeless New Yorkers move from shelter to permanency. Councilmember Salamanca’s bill would go a long way to addressing the administration’s disappointing failure to commit to ending homelessness,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney in Charge, Civil Law Reform Unit, The Legal Aid Society.

“With record levels of family homelessness in New York City, we must leverage every possible opportunity to provide New Yorkers living in shelter with access to affordable housing,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of Citizens’ Committee for Children. “The trauma experienced due to homelessness negatively impacts the short and long term health, economic stability and well-being of children and their caregivers. Expanding the number of units that are set aside for homeless families in housing development projects is critically needed to respond to this crisis. We applaud Council Members Salamanca and Levin for their leadership on this issue and look forward to working with the City Council and city administration to bring increased set asides to fruition.”