Homeless New Yorkers and Advocates Demand Construction of More Housing for Homeless New Yorkers at Town Hall

Groups Call on Elected Officials and Mayor to Include 30,000 Units for Homeless Households, with 24,000 to be Created Through New Construction in Housing New York 2.0 Plan

 Homelessness in NYC Remains at Record Levels, with more than 63,000 people – including 23,000 Children and All-Time High 17,700 Single Adults – Sleeping in Shelters Each Night

NEW YORK, NY – Advocates and homeless New Yorkers hosted a town hall meeting with elected officials to call on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers in his Housing New York 2.0 affordable housing plan to 30,000 units, with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction.

Despite soaring homelessness in New York City, Mayor de Blasio plans to set aside only 5 percent of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan for homeless New Yorkers, with most of those created through preservation of already-occupied units (thus leaving the bulk of the apartments in his plan unavailable to house homeless New Yorkers for years). The Mayor’s current plan would create twice as many units for households who can afford rents above $2,500 than it does for homeless families and individuals – effectively perpetuating the crisis that continues to devastate the lives of tens of thousands of people in our city.

The town hall, organized by House Our Future NY —an advocacy campaign formed by Coalition for the Homeless and 63 partner organizations, as well as homeless men, women, and children and other caring New Yorkers— highlighted the widespread and deepening community disappointment in how the Mayor has handled the homelessness crisis. Those present attested to the scarcity of housing options and skyrocketing rents, calling on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to act swiftly to re-balance the housing plan with new apartments for the homeless.

“There are a record 63,000 homeless people sleeping in New York City shelters every night, with thousands more living outside under brutal conditions. Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 housing plan fails the tens of thousands of New Yorkers without homes: Of the 300,000 units of housing to be created by the Mayor’s plan, a miserly 5 percent will be set aside for homeless households,” said Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at Coalition for the Homeless. “The Mayor has shown a callous disregard for the needs of our homeless neighbors – his indifference is truly staggering. Homeless New Yorkers and local taxpayers can’t wait any longer for him to rebalance his housing plan to bring the City’s affordable housing solutions to those who are indisputably in the greatest need.”

“Everybody knows that New York City is in the midst of a homelessness crisis, with levels not seen since the Great Depression,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “If Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York 2.0 plan is going to increase affordable housing overall, then it needs to reflect this crisis and also include more permanent housing for the currently homeless.”

“The time is now to commit ourselves to ensuring that families and individuals experiencing homelessness have an opportunity to obtain affordable housing. The De Blasio administration should be commended for their historically ambitious affordable housing agenda, but it is not too much to have 30,000 of those units being set aside for New Yorker’s experiencing homelessness,” said Council Member Stephen Levin.  

“With New York facing the worst homelessness crisis since the Great Depression, we need a robust program to provide truly affordable housing to this population,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “New York’s leaders will need to be as aggressive and innovative as the government officials who worked to help the most vulnerable during the Great Depression. The audacious plan put forth by the Coalition for the Homeless and the House Our Future coalition will construct the number of housing units that is necessary to meet the dire needs of New York’s homeless population.”

“New York City is at crisis levels facing record homelessness,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “We have the opportunity to make real and transformative change in addressing our housing and homelessness crisis by helping get people off the street and into healthier, more prosperous and more fulfilling futures with additional funding. Thank you to the Coalition for the Homeless and the House Our Future Coalition for your advocacy on behalf of our most vulnerable.”

“Tonight, as temperatures remain at the freezing level, almost 64,000 men, women and children will sleep in homeless shelters across New York City. Our ongoing affordable housing crisis makes solving homelessness impossible. And despite the current construction boom, there is no clear-end in sight. I stand with the Coalition for the Homeless and the House Our Future Coalition in their call for more aggressive development of affordable housing – it is the only solution to this human crisis,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Manhattan, District 6).

“I think it is insensitive, that the City would develop a plan to build and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing, and only allocate 5% of those units to homeless families across all five boroughs,” said Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel. “Now is not the time to ignore the homelessness crisis. We have to approach the housing crisis with a comprehensive lens, and that means, developing housing for all New Yorkers, including the homeless population. New York City is in dire need of real affordable and supportive housing that speaks to the needs of homeless and low-income families. I cannot say with confidence that the Housing New York 2.0 plan will address the homelessness crisis; however, as a member of the City Council, I will do my part in ensuring that development happens with my constituency and not to them.”

“For years, New York City has remained in a consistent homelessness crisis. The approach has been to manage this crisis rather than coming up with concrete ways to reduce the homeless population. The Mayor’s Housing New York plan outlines building or preserving 300,000 units of affordable housing by 2026, but only 5%, or approximately 15,000 of these units will be for homeless households. The Mayor must increase the number units for homeless families to at least 10% as well as increase the amount of units that result from new construction projects. Only through a true commitment to increasing these numbers will NYC begin to meet the needs of homeless families and reduce our homelessness crisis overall,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson.

“Over 63,000 people are living in our city’s shelter system on any given day,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Our Mayor needs to do everything he can to get as many families out of the crowded shelter system. That starts with Housing 2.0, the Mayor’s signature plan to increase affordable housing, which currently only sets aside 15,000 units for already homeless people. This is just not enough. Of the 300,000 units of affordable housing, the Mayor plans to create or save, at least 10% should be set aside to get New Yorkers out of the shelter system. Thank you to House Our Future for making this specific point their focus and for being committed to helping New Yorkers.”

“We have come so far in this campaign,” said Nathylin Flowers Adesegun, Community Leader at VOCAL-NY. “We’ve marched on Gracie Mansion, sent letters to the Mayor, confronted him at his gym, confronted him on the radio, testified at hearings, and even sat on the floor of City Hall. It’s time to get this done, for me and the other 63,000 homeless New Yorkers in our city. We need 30,000 units of affordable housing – including 24,000 units of new construction – in order to meaningfully slow the pace of the homelessness crisis and help people exit the shelter system, into the safe, sustainable housing we need and deserve.”

“Homelessness in NYC is at its worst since the Great Depression, and no one has been hit harder than low-income New Yorkers,” said Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, one of New York’s largest AIDS-service organizations. “Given this dire ongoing crisis, it’s essential that all housing plans – from the Mayor’s housing plan to City Council legislation – reserve a substantial number of viable living spaces for the most vulnerable homeless and working poor among us, and they need to be genuinely affordable. From that stable foundation, all of life’s other critical needs can begin to get addressed. That’s what we mean at Housing Works when we say housing is health care.”

“New York City is in the midst of both a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing crisis,” said Frederick Shack, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Pathways. “With over 60,000 adults and children sleeping in city shelters each night, the need for more truly affordable housing is vital to getting these individuals and families into permanent, stable homes and moving towards a long-term solution to homelessness. This is why we support House Our Future NY in asking the Mayor to do his part by setting aside 30,000 units in his 300,000-unit affordable housing plan for the homeless.”

“Mayor De Blasio must address our city’s homelessness crisis with a common-sense solution – build housing for the homeless,” said Denny Marsh, Executive Director of Neighbors Together. “The House Our Future NY campaign is calling on the Mayor to set aside 10% of his affordable housing plan, 30,000 units, for homeless New Yorkers, 24,000 of which must be new construction. The Mayor’s other methods of addressing homelessness are band-aid approaches; they don’t address the underlying problem, which is a severe lack of affordable housing for low-income and working-class New Yorkers. Until he addresses the crisis of homelessness with a commensurate solution, New York City will continue to have record high homelessness. It is time for the Mayor to stop digging in his heels and join the majority of the City Council, Borough Presidents, 63+ advocacy organizations, and thousands of New Yorkers who support the House Our Future NY campaign.”

“Common to virtually every faith tradition is the call to stand with those who are suffering and marginalized,” said Marc Greenberg, Executive Director of Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. “The Interfaith Assembly joins with over 100 priests, rabbis, ministers, imams, and other faith leaders, over 60 organizations, and thousands of other New Yorkers in calling on the Mayor to go beyond the good work that the City has already done and do the difficult work needed to truly turn the tide on this crisis of homelessness over three decades in the making. History will mark his decision to commit 10% of his 300,000-unit housing plan to homeless households or will remember his failure to act boldly when it was required.”

“Mayor De Blasio’s failure to prioritize the housing needs of homeless New Yorkers must stop,” said Monique “Mo” George, Executive Director of Picture the Homeless. “Unless he acts now to ensure that 10% of the units created under his Housing New York 2.0 plan go to homeless people, he’ll go down in history as just another mayor who let mass displacement continue while big developers got filthy rich.”

“In the wealthiest city in the world, in which there is an overabundance of luxury apartments being built, it is a moral outrage that we have not provided safe, decent housing and a living subsidy to every person who is homeless or living in inhumane conditions,” said Rev. Jeff Wells, for The Church of the Village. “The Church of the Village strongly endorses the minimal proposal Housing Our Future NY.”

“Access to affordable housing is the most elusive for the homeless in New York City,” said Rev. Peter Cook, Executive Director of New York State Council of Churches. “Expanding the number of dwellings for the most vulnerable among us deserves our very highest priority. We need at least 10% of the mayor’s 300,000 housing plan set aside for homeless households.”

“Homelessness remains at or near record highs in our City – this is a crisis and we need to use every resource at our disposal to address it,” said Catherine Trapani, Executive Director of Homeless Services United. “Given the overwhelming need, it ought not be controversial to ask that the City dedicate a meaningful share of affordable housing it finances to people without homes. The time has come to finally align the City’s affordable housing plan with the plan to address homelessness and ‘House Our Future.’”

“New York City’s lack of affordable housing forces providers to ration available units, ultimately creating more bureaucracy and burden for our homeless neighbors,” said Josh Dean, Executive Director of Human.nyc. “Setting aside 30,000 units for homeless New Yorkers, with 24,000 of these units to be created through new construction, will go a long way towards both moving more people into housing and making the process of securing housing less strenuous.”

“This bill will create a sorely needed pathway for homeless New Yorkers to access safe, affordable housing,” said Scott Wagner, Managing Director of the Safety Net Project. “By investing in housing instead of shelters for New Yorkers struggling to survive in the face of domestic violence, low-wage work, disabilities, and more, the City will both save money and reduce trauma for the tens of thousands of families and children in shelter.”

“With record levels of family homelessness in New York City, we must leverage every possible opportunity to provide New Yorkers at risk of homelessness and 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, and we call on Mayor de Blasio to commit to 30,000 units of affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by 2026.”

Visit www.coalitionforthehomeless.org/hofny for more information.


House Our Future NY Endorsing Organizations:

The Ali Forney Center
Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.
Barrier Free Living
Broadway Housing Communities
Bronx Health & Housing Consortium
Care for the Homeless*
The Church of the Village
CitiLeaf Housing
Citizens’ Committee for Children
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Coalition for the Homeless*
College and Community Fellowship
The Collegiate Churches of New York
Community Access
Community Service Society
Covenant House New York
Emergency Shelter Network
Encore Community Services
Gateway Housing
Harm Reduction Coalition
Henry Street Settlement
Homeless Services United
Hope’s Door
Housing Conservation Coordinators
Housing Works*
Hunger Action Network of NYS
Hunger Free America
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing*
Kingdom Faith Developers
The Legal Aid Society
Mekong NYC
Midtown South Community Council
Mutual Housing Association of NY (MHANY)
My Dog is My Home
National Working Positive Coalition
Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter
Neighbors Together*
New Destiny Housing
New York Communities for Change
New York Society for Ethical Culture
New York State Council of Churches
Partnership for the Homeless
Pax Christi Metro New York
Picture the Homeless*
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Safe Horizon
Services for the UnderServed
Sisters of Charity of New York
Society for the Advancement of Judaism
St Ann’s Church of Morrisania
Strong Families Deliverance Ministries Inc.
Tenants & Neighbors
Tenants Political Action Committee
University Settlement and The Door
Urban Justice Center
Urban Pathways*
WE ACT For Environmental Justice

*Lead organizing groups