Lawmakers, Advocates Rally at Capitol to Urge Governor Cuomo to ‘Say Yes to HSS’ and Include Home Stability Support in State Budget

Home Stability Support Would Finally Deliver State Help for Tens of Thousands of New Yorkers to Escape Homelessness and Protect Thousands More on the Brink of Losing their Homes

ALBANY, NY — On Wednesday, lawmakers were joined by homeless New Yorkers, housing advocates, and faith leaders for a rally at the State Capitol to urge Governor Cuomo to include Home Stability Support (HSS) in the State budget. The rally marked the launch of a new campaign, “Say Yes to HSS”, to bring awareness to the measure that groups say will deliver long-overdue State resources to help solve the statewide homelessness crisis.

The bill (S. 2375/A. 1620), sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, has broad bi-partisan support and would create a rent supplement for households that qualify for public assistance who are homeless, as well as those at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction, domestic violence, or hazardous conditions in the home.

New York State is experiencing a homelessness crisis, with 23,000 more people becoming homeless than escaping homelessness each year. Shelters and emergency housing cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually, and Governor Cuomo has eliminated State funds to help people stay in their homes.

“Homelessness in New York is both a humanitarian crisis and an ongoing stress on local budgets and communities. We have to tackle this problem head-on, and the best way to start is by keeping people in their homes in the first place. Home Stability Support will be a lifeline for thousands of New Yorkers to avoid falling into the cycle of homelessness, and it will also save millions of dollars for towns, counties and cities throughout the state. This crisis has gone on long enough – it’s time for long-term solutions,” said State Senator Liz Krueger.

“I am honored to stand alongside this broad coalition of leaders from across the state to say yes to HSS and call on Governor Cuomo to do the same. We are living through the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression but it doesn’t have to be that way. HSS is one piece of the solution and will help keep tens of thousands of individuals, families, and children in their homes. With our state currently spending 3 times as much on shelter for worse outcomes, saying yes to HSS is the right decision for New York State,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi.

“New York State is facing a homelessness crisis. With Home Stability Support, we can help individuals and families access stable and permanent housing, which will promote the overall health and economic well-being of at-risk New Yorkers. Home Stability Support will be a lifeline to those who are homeless as well as those at risk of becoming homeless due to eviction, domestic violence, or unsafe conditions in their home. Expanding access to affordable housing must be a priority and Home Stability Support will help in a way that is fiscally and socially responsible,” said Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol.

“With 80,000 families in New York State on the brink of homelessness, and 150,000 children currently without permanent housing, it is essential for the State to help alleviate this crisis and provide meaningful support to our most vulnerable families and individuals,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee and a co- sponsor of the legislation. “Providing New Yorkers with the means to avoid homelessness will have a ripple effect that will lead to employment opportunities, academic achievement and greater stability for families as well as our communities.”

By providing housing assistance to help eligible families and individuals facing homelessness to afford market rents, the program would help thousands of individuals and families to retain their homes, and at the same time help thousands of others to relocate from costly shelters, crowded double-ups, and places unfit for human habitation, to homes of their own.

“As New York continues to grapple with a record-breaking homelessness crisis, we are here to bring awareness to a solution proven to address the biggest drivers of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, housing instability, and domestic violence. Right now, the supply of apartments that are affordable to low-income renters, including those relying on a public assistance shelter allowance, is rapidly disappearing, and many New Yorkers have been shut out of the market entirely. Home Stability Support would bridge the difference between incomes and rents to enable people to stay in their homes and communities instead of being forced into the costly and impermanent shelter system. We are grateful to the large bi-partisan group of elected officials and many partners from across the state for joining us in this campaign, and are hopeful Governor Cuomo will finally ‘Say Yes to HSS,’” said Shelly Nortz, Deputy Executive Director for Policy with the Coalition for the Homeless.

“As pastoral shepherd of the Archdiocese of New York, I join with you to emphasize the critical concerns of homelessness and the housing crisis. Too many individuals and families are simply unable to afford a place to live. EVEN at a time when we are told that the economy is strong and growing even stronger, the facts regarding homelessness ARE just the opposite, as more people are forced into homelessness than escape the plight of it. We must do more as a society to help those in need of support to remain in their homes, and to find decent, safe and affordable housing for those without it. I applaud Assembly member Andrew Hevesi for his commitment to those in desperate need of our help,” said His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan.

“New York is coping with a homelessness crisis, and the cost-effective solution is for the state to increase the shelter allowance and enact the Home Stability Support (HSS) bill. The City Council recently produced a comprehensive report, ‘Our Homelessness Crisis: A Case for Change,’ which looks at how to best tackle this longstanding crisis, and one of our key recommendations is for the state to pass this bill. Four years after HSS was introduced, Albany needs to finally make this a priority, and do their part to help New Yorkers at risk of or experiencing homelessness,” said New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“While evictions are up all across the country, we have driven them down in New York City by 41% through our first-in-nation right to counsel law, and by providing rental assistance and rehousing services to more than 140,000 New Yorkers, the Department of Homeless Services shelter census remained flat for the first time in a decade. Home Stability Support will build on these efforts and give us the tools needed to help more children and adults avert homelessness and move out of shelter. A portable, State-supported, statewide rental assistance program would help bridge the gap between rents and income that is driving homelessness, taking our efforts even further by providing flexibility and mobility for New Yorkers across the State who have lost their homes or may be at risk of homelessness,” said Steven Banks, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Social Services.

“As our latest Poverty Tracker report made painfully clear, half of New Yorkers spent at least one year in poverty over a recent four year period. This crisis requires bold action from the state in the form of Home Stability Support, which will provide critical aid to the thousands of families living in shelters or at risk of losing their homes.” said Wes Moore, CEO of Robin Hood. “Robin Hood is proud to join our partners in the Coalition for the Homeless, as well as State Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Hevesi, in urging Governor Cuomo to pass Home Stability Support.”

“The ever increasing costs of living in New York have created a situation where the most economically vulnerable among us are on the brink of homelessness on a daily basis. At particular risk are New Yorkers who have suffered domestic violence or live in hazardous conditions, leading to a need for emergency shelter. Of the approximately 60,000 people currently in New York City’s shelters, more than one third are children – this is not what the Empire State stands for. I am proud to co-sponsor Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Hevesi’s Home Stability Support legislation that, once implemented, will help New Yorkers stay in their homes and not be forced into a much costlier emergency shelter system,” said Senator Roxanne J. Persaud

“We at The Legal Aid Society see the financial and human costs of homelessness in the communities we serve every day. Amidst the worst homeless crisis since the Great Depression, New York State has a unique opportunity to enact a fiscally-responsible approach to combating homelessness that reduces public assistance costs while keeping families in their homes. Home Stability Support is an essential component to addressing the homelessness crisis in an effective, financially responsible manner,” said Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge, The Legal Aid Society, Civil Practice.

“With our State facing an unprecedented homelessness and housing affordability crisis, the Home Stability Support Act will offer low-income New Yorkers struggling to afford rent a pathway to remain in their homes and avoid the shelter system. I applaud the efforts of Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Hevesi for sponsoring this proposal to reduce our State’s homeless population and decrease family displacement, all while saving taxpayers money,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera

“Housing is a human right. As the standard of living rises, we must ensure that children and families are able to receive and maintain a home. Think too, of the thousands of homeless individuals who will benefit from having a safe, stable place to call home. I urge my colleagues to support this bill, which will guarantee housing for our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.

“With a growing crisis of family homelessness devastating communities across New York City, Home Stability Support (HSS) would go a long way to reverse this trend and provide thousands of at-risk families with the resources they need to stay on the path to long-term stability and well-being. Nearly 70% of those entering shelters in New York City are families with children — children who deserve a consistent roof over their heads, room to play and study, and the opportunity to succeed in school. HSS will help families facing eviction, fleeing domestic violence, and leaving shelter ensure greater stability for their children and minimize the impact of trauma related to housing instability. HSS will also save the State tax dollars in the long-run. On average, housing a family in a shelter costs the State three times more than it costs to keep that same family safely housed with the support of an HSS voucher, making HSS both smart fiscal policy and the right thing to do. We thank Senator Krueger and Assemblymember Hevesi for their continued leadership on the issue of family homelessness and strongly urge Governor Cuomo to include funding for HSS in the State budget,” said Jennifer March, Executive Director of the Citizens’ Committee for Children, a Co-Convener of the Family Homelessness Coalition.

“Any effective plan to address homelessness in New York City must include a provision to provide more rental subsidy funds to ensure that homeless households can leave the shelter system and at-risk households can avoid being homeless. With the severe reduction of Federal Section 8 funds over the past decades, our City and State must work to direct more State and Federal funds to help supplement rental costs if we are to see a real reduction in homelessness across our state. Home Stability Support would go a long way to begin to address this need by providing housing assistance to help thousands of individuals and families to retain their homes, and help thousands of others to relocate to homes of their own, from costly shelters, crowded double-ups, and places unfit for human habitation. The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing joins over 100 faith leaders from across New York State, dozens of elected officials and many thousands of concerned New Yorkers in calling on Governor Cuomo and our legislative leaders to prudently and wisely begin to redirect some of our state’s resources from an emergency shelter response to sustainable permanent housing support,” said Marc Greenberg, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing.

“If we’re serious about tackling our homeless crisis, we have to do more to prevent homelessness in the first place. This proposal is a step in the right direction that will help keep New Yorkers in their homes, off the streets, and out of the shelter system. An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure—let’s seize this opportunity to pull New Yorkers back from the brink before it’s too late,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

“There are multiple approaches to addressing the homeless crisis in New York and we need to be employing all of them, including the construction of new affordable housing. As a complement, however, to our homebuilding efforts, we also need a way for people to immediately access affordable housing or to stay in their own homes. Home Stability Support is a caring and cost efficient way to prevent homelessness right away instead of having people rely on very expensive and less desirable shelters or having to wait a dangerously long time for an uncertain number of newly constructed units to be built many years in the future,” said The Reverend Peter Cook, New York State Council of Churches.

“The only way we will begin to meaningfully address our homelessness crisis is by implementing long-term, preventative solutions that keep New Yorkers in their homes. The Home Stability Support program will provide thousands of families and at-risk individuals across the state with the security they need to maintain permanent housing, evade eviction and, subsequently, the cycle of homelessness. Our communities can no longer afford band-aid solutions – we need to take bold action to eliminate homelessness at the root cause,” said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi.

“The Home Stability Support (HSS) Initiative will help to Build a Better Bronx and strengthen our great State of New York. Through the tremendous efforts and leadership of Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, there is now a chance to create rental supplements for families in need across the state, helping to end the cycle of homelessness and the perilous reality of losing a home, something no one should have to experience in NYS in 2020. It is within our collective power to change outcomes and to urge Governor Cuomo to include HSS in the NYS budget. We can all do our part to end cycles of housing instability and poverty by offering support and proving through legislation that safety should be available to all people, not just those who can afford it,” said Assembly Member Michael Blake.

“I was homeless for over 10 years before moving into a home of my own with a rent subsidy, so I know from firsthand experience how rent subsidies change lives. I also know I am one of the lucky New Yorkers who managed to escape homelessness with the help of a rent subsidy, and that there is a record high homeless population in the shelter system that needs Home Stability Support to pass so they can do the same. I’m so grateful to Senator Krueger, Assemblymember Hevesi, and Assemblymember Lentol for championing Home Stability Support, which would help thousands of New Yorkers move out of shelters and into permanent housing. Governor Cuomo, please say yes to HSS. People are desperate for you to do your part,” said Rhonda Jackson, member of the Coalition for the Homeless Client Advisory Group.

“The Home Stability Support bill would ensure that thousands of at-risk individuals and families across the state would be able to afford decent, stable housing. HSS would go a long way towards ensuring that fewer people live on the streets, in emergency shelters, and hospital emergency rooms. Kids will do better in school when they have a place to call home, and more people can get a job and keep it. The bill is long overdue,” said Don Friedman, a Senior Attorney at the Long Island office of Empire Justice Center.

“The New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence urges the state to adopt Home Stability Support during this year’s legislative session. Survivors of domestic violence cannot wait any longer for this crucial housing assistance. New York State leads the nation in demand for domestic violence services and many of these requests for services, such as housing, go unmet. A national census conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that in a single day in 2018, 4,013 domestic violence victims across New York found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs. Another 801 individuals who requested services — 73% of whom were looking for housing — could not obtain the help they needed, forcing many to remain in potentially dangerous environments. The Home Stability Support program will address critical unmet housing needs and support safety for survivors who may otherwise become homeless because they have no other options,” said Connie Neal, Executive Director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“In this affordability crisis, New York must act to address the shortage of housing options for the lowest-income New Yorkers,” said Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Win, the state’s largest provider of shelter and supportive housing to homeless families. “Passing Home Stability Support (HSS) will help families and individuals who are homeless or on the brink of homelessness find long-term stability. HSS will also mandate that housing vouchers meet 85 percent of the federally-designated fair market rent. Win is calling on New York City to use resources to fund the gap so that the CityFHEPS voucher meets 100 percent.”

“Home Stability Support is vital to preserve the dignity of the most economically-vulnerable facing homelessness: the elderly and disabled, families with children, formerly incarcerated individuals, veterans, those in recovery, and so forth. The very communities that would most benefit from HSS across NYS are the exact same ones suffering displacement caused by trends in the real estate market and are overlooked by real estate developers. The cycle can be summed up briefly: displace; refuse to rent; raise rents with a new lease; rinse; repeat. HSS would not only provide a pathway to remaining in one’s community, but it would also save lives. Housing is health care. Housing is education. Housing is justice. Housing is recovery. Housing is wellness. Housing is community. Housing is a human right. Much deserved thank yous are in order for Senator Krueger and Assemblymembers Hevesi and Lentol for championing Home Stability Support. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I call on you, Gov. Cuomo, to include HSS in this year’s budget,” said Felix Guzman, member of the Client Advisory Group of Coalition for the Homeless, and a leader with both VOCAL-NY and Housing Justice for All.

Home Stability Support is backed by 129 members of the NYS Assembly, 37 members of the NYS Senate, dozens of local officials and Congressional Representatives, and hundreds of advocates, faith leaders, and other supporters. Homelessness costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually, but solutions like HSS can actually save tax dollars while also helping to dramatically reduce the demand for shelter by as much as 60 percent.