New Yorkers Band Together for City Hall Sleep-Out to Demand Mayor de Blasio Create More Housing for the Homeless
Homeless New Yorkers, Faith Leaders, and Supporters Join Members of House Our Future NY for a Rally and Overnight Vigil to Demand 24,000 New Affordable Apartments and Preservation of 6,000 More by 2026
NEW YORK, NY — Homeless New Yorkers, faith leaders, and housing advocates joined together today for a rally and overnight vigil at City Hall Park to urge Mayor de Blasio to commit to building 24,000 new affordable apartments, and preserving the affordability of 6,000 more, for homeless New Yorkers by 2026. This event was led by the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, the Coalition for the Homeless, and other members of the House Our Future NY Campaign.
Every year since 1985, faith leaders and housing advocates organized a sleep-out to call for solutions to mass homelessness. Once Mayor de Blasio took office in 2013, the sleep-out organizers believed the rallies were no longer necessary because of de Blasio’s promises to alleviate homelessness in New York City. Unfortunately, a recent report by the Coalition for the Homeless showed that the Mayor, after nearly six years in office, has failed to effectively deliver on his promises and instead has created some policies that have actually fueled the homelessness crisis.
“To say that the people of New York are disappointed in Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to reduce the homelessness crisis would be an understatement. In 2013, while running for office, he made promises that led advocates to be hopeful for low-income and homeless individuals, but six years later we know those were empty promises and we have to take action,” said Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at Coalition for the Homeless. “Because New York’s housing market continues to force more and more people into shelters and onto the streets, the City must commit to building more affordable housing to match the scale of the need. It is far past the time for the Mayor to implement the House Our Future NY Campaign’s recommendation to build 24,000 new apartments – and preserve the affordability of at least 6,000 more – for homeless families and individuals. If ignored, the Mayor will be leading the city even further down a path of inequity and homelessness.”
On Thursday night, dozens of people convened and slept at City Hall Park. There were a series of discussions focusing on the specific steps that Mayor de Blasio should take to alleviate the ongoing crisis that, for many New Yorkers, has become a defining issue of his mayoralty. Some of these advocates included Council Members Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, and Rafael Salamanca, House Our Future NY Campaign members, homeless and formerly homeless New Yorkers, and faith leaders.
“New York City’s homelessness crisis won’t be solved until government specifically creates permanent housing for the currently homeless,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Events like the Sleep Out help increase awareness and urgency.”
“While the House Our Future NY campaign continues to rally overwhelming support for the push to build 24,000 new units of housing for the formerly homeless, the administration remains steadfast in defending practices that have failed to stem the record number of people in shelters,” stated Council Member Rafael Salamanca. “As the sponsor of Intro. 1211, which would increase the homeless set aside and has majority support in the City Council, the time is now to enact measures that will create more permanent housing for our shelter population.”
“We have been saying for years that New York City is in the grips of a housing crisis, and no one feels it more intensely than individuals experiencing homelessness. The housing crisis is just one of many facing this city, and it is time for clear-eyed, bold action to make the right investments in getting people off the streets and out of shelter, and into high-quality affordable and supportive housing. I support House Our Future NY’s call urging the Mayor to create and preserve housing units, and commend them for their continued efforts to end and prevent homelessness,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy Jr., Chair of Housing and Buildings Committee.
“With homelessness on the rise, I support the House our Future NY campaign urging Mayor de Blasio to commit to creating 24,000 new constructed apartments and preserving 6,000 more units for homeless New Yorkers by 2026. It’s unacceptable that 23,000 children and their families are homeless in New York City, one of the richest places in the world. The lack of secure and stable housing conditions affects children in all aspects, especially in the classroom. We must create a social safety net for these families, and I call on the Mayor to act with a sense of urgency to alleviate the homelessness crisis,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education.
“Tonight, over 61,000 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.
“Advocates should not have to engage in demonstrations like a sleep-out in City Hall Park to draw the City’s attention to our homelessness crisis – we see the human costs of the City’s affordable housing scarcity borne out every single day. Sadly, an issue this dire requires bold action,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “I am proud to support these advocates in pushing this Administration to create real solutions for the thousands of New Yorkers who need a home.”
“While the de Blasio administration has made strides in addressing New York City’s housing crisis, our homelessness crisis must be met with greater urgency and an increase in targeted resources,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “The de Blasio administration’s Housing 2.0 plan, which aims to create and preserve 300,000 affordable units, does not go far enough in helping to house homeless New Yorkers. I stand in solidarity with the Coalition for the Homeless in urging the de Blasio administration to construct 24,000 new apartments and preserve the affordability of 6,000 more for homeless New Yorkers by 2026.”
“We know what it will take to address this crisis: more affordable housing and policies that take their cue from housing experts and activists. Yet Mayor de Blasio continues to lowball his commitment to both. Even more remarkably, his current housing plan would actually subsidize as many wealthy households as affordable ones. This is unacceptable, especially from a Mayor who cloaked himself in the moral authority of the Tale of Two Cities. He can win that authority back by committing to build 24,000 new apartments and preserving 6,000 more for the homeless,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“This protest brings the homelessness crisis squarely to City Hall’s front door — exactly where it belongs,” said Council Member Francisco Moya. “While scores of advocates will confront the administration with its failure to respond to this emergency tonight, thousands of New Yorkers will be sleeping in shelters and countless more are one unexpected expense away from losing their housing. We have to do more to meet the homelessness crisis. If that wasn’t already clear, maybe someone in the Mayor’s office should look out of their window this evening.”
“We need to make the commitment to do everything we can to ensure that every New Yorker has a safe place to live. There’s so much to be done in fighting homelessness, but the creation of apartments for New Yorkers who are experiencing homelessness is a necessary element in the City’s plan. I stand with the House Our Future NY Coalition in their campaign for more affordable housing to support the homeless,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal.
“Thank you to the House Our Future NY Coalition for ensuring that the housing affordability crisis pushing so many into homelessness is top of mind for New York City’s leadership. We can and we must build significantly more truly affordable, permanent housing for the tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers who urgently need it,” said Council Member Brad Lander.
“New York City must double down on its efforts to address homelessness and we must tackle the problem head on by providing affordable units and the necessary resources to help keep New Yorkers in safe and stable homes,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “The Mayor’s housing plan has produced results but it has not gone far enough to deliver for those who have the most severe needs for families in shelters. Permanent homes and supportive housing are the answer and we must keep fighting for every New Yorker in need. I’d like to thank the House Our Future NY campaign for leading this city in the right direction and their continued advocacy for New Yorkers in need of housing.”
“New York City is facing record homelessness which is steadily increasing,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “The administration has the opportunity to make real and transformative change in addressing our housing and homeless crisis by helping to get people out of shelters and into homes. The sleep-out will send a powerful message that urgent action is needed and simultaneously express compassion for our homeless population. Thank you to the Coalition for the Homeless and the House Our Future Coalition for your advocacy on behalf of our most vulnerable.”
“While addressing homelessness has been at the forefront of our city’s agenda, affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers must continue to be a major component of the city’s plans,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “The current system too often seems like a band-aid on a critical wound, so I stand with the coalition to say that at this time of crisis, building significantly more housing for homeless families is absolutely critical.”
“Tonight, more than 60,000 men, women and children will be sleeping in a shelter. Homelessness remains all-time high. It is a serious issue and deserves serious, thoughtful solutions. Instead of building more shelters, the Mayor should be investing in transitional housing programs that actually work by encouraging rehabilitation and upward mobility. Until there are real programs, real solutions and real accountability — we will not see real progress or help for the people who need it the most,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich.
“After decades of holding the vigil for the homeless every year, we canceled it at the beginning of the de Blasio administration because we believed the Mayor would be a progressive force in this city,” said VOCAL-NY Community Leader Nathylin Flowers. “Tonight we’re back because we’re sick of false promises and no action. Maybe now that the Mayor is not looking for a new job, he can do the job we elected him to do.”
“The City has a legal obligation to provide shelter but also a moral and fiscal imperative to solve the homeless crisis by making more permanent affordable housing available to homeless New Yorkers through the Mayor’s housing plan. The problem has an obvious solution that the Mayor stubbornly refuses to implement,” said Joshua Goldfein, Staff Attorney at The Legal Aid Society.
“From 1985 until the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor in 2013, the Interfaith Assembly and our faith partners bore witness to the homeless crisis by holding an annual overnight vigil in City Hall Park to call on the City to truly address our homeless crisis,” said Marc Greenberg, Executive Director of the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing. “When Mayor de Blasio was elected, we felt that finally we had a chief executive with a commitment to turn the crisis around. In 2019, after nearly 6 years in office, despite some impressive and well-intentioned initiatives, we have determined that the City must do much more if the crisis is to be turned around. Joining with our partners in advocacy, elected officials, and those who have experienced homelessness, we will again spend one night on the street in solidarity with those who have few better choices, as we urge the Mayor to double his commitment of housing for homeless households by pledging to build 24,000 units and preserve 6,000 units of housing affordable to homeless households by 2026 as part of his 300,000-unit housing plan.”
“In New York City where we have almost one million millionaires and over 60,000 homeless people in shelters each night, faith leaders demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio build or preserve 30,000 homes for the homeless. ‘If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday’ (Isaiah 58:10). As stouthearted New Yorkers, let us come together and do what is right – feed the hungry, bind up the broken-hearted, and house the homeless,” said Rev. Peter Goodwin Heltzel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Theology at New York Theological Seminary.
“As we approach the Jewish High Holy Days, we are called to take an ‘accounting of the soul’ and come to terms with our shortcomings as individuals and a society. This year, we must come to terms with the scope of homelessness in our city and country and the profound suffering that it causes. Our shortage of affordable housing is not merely an issue of public policy, but the spiritual health of New York City. We can and must do better,” said Rabbi Joshua Stanton, Senior Rabbi, East End Temple.
“Mayor De Blasio has now returned from his sojourn in the national political field, we urge him to bring new and honest vigor to his responsibilities to we citizens of America’s city, the professed shining beacon of progressive fairness, decency, open justice, and true compassion and care for each of our citizens. New York needs and deserves his extraordinary leadership to bring the disparate entities that comprise our great city to a new understanding of how the ‘beloved community’ cares for its own. Sixty three thousand homeless people in the City of New York brings an unprecedented shame on our corporate body and the Mayor’s meager efforts are an embarrassment to us all. Bill you can do better, much much better,” said The Rev. Clyde Kuemmerle, Ph.D., Executive Director, Ecclesia Ministries of New York.
House Our Future NY is an advocacy campaign formed by the Coalition for the Homeless and 66 partner organizations, as well as homeless men, women, and children, and other caring New Yorkers. The campaign calls for 30,000 new units of affordable, permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers by 2026, with 24,000 of these apartments to be created through new construction. 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
Citizens’ Committee for Children
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Coalition for the Homeless*
College and Community Fellowship
The Collegiate Churches of New York
Community Service Society
Covenant House New York
Emergency Shelter Network
Encore Community Services
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church
Harm Reduction Coalition
Henry Street Settlement
Homeless Services United
Housing Conservation Coordinators
Hunger Action Network of NYS
Hunger Free America
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing*
Kingdom Faith Developers
The Legal Aid Society
Midtown South Community Council
Mutual Housing Association of NY (MHANY)
My Dog is My Home
National Working Positive Coalition
Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter
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)
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
WE ACT For Environmental Justice
*Lead organizing groups