Today’s Listen: How the House Our Future NY Campaign Can Help Address Homelessness

The City must use every available tool to confront the challenge of homelessness. Although Mayor de Blasio has taken some positive steps, he must go further by aligning his affordable housing plan with the reality of record homelessness. At a time when 61,945 New Yorkers – including 22,538 children – sleep in shelters each night, the Mayor’s Housing New York 2.0 plan allocates a mere 5 percent of its 300,000 affordable units to homeless households. As the Coalition said in a statement last week: “All told, the Mayor is spending billions on a plan that will do little to decrease record homelessness. Mayor de Blasio can trumpet the headline number all he wants, but very little of this housing is going to the people who need it most.”

To correct this disconnect between the housing plan and the homelessness crisis, the Coalition’s House Our Future NY campaign calls on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of permanent affordable housing units set aside for homeless New Yorkers to 30,000 of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan, with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction. The campaign continues to gain momentum, and has been endorsed by 57 organizations and 38 elected officials. Please add your voice by signing the House Our Future NY petition.

Giselle Routhier, the Coalition’s Policy Director, spoke with Joel Berg and Jeff Simmons on their WBAI radio show City Watch this weekend. The interview contextualized how past policy failures and the loss of affordable housing have contributed to record homelessness, and highlighted the urgency underlying the House Our Future NY campaign, which calls on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of permanent affordable housing units set aside for homeless New Yorkers. Giselle explained:

 “We still haven’t been able to turn the curve and actually bring the number [of homeless New Yorkers] down in a meaningful way. One of the big things that is just this huge disconnect under de Blasio is he’s touted this amazing and historic affordable housing plan, where he’s investing billions of dollars to create or preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing, and virtually 5 percent of that is going to be going specifically to people who are homeless to get them out of shelters and into housing. And that’s totally insufficient. You’re missing this once-in-a-generation opportunity to use those resources to create housing for people who arguably have the highest housing need because they literally have no housing. So we’ve been pushing de Blasio to allocate 30,000 units out of his 300,000-unit plan specifically for homeless set-asides, but the vast majority of those – 24,000 – being new construction because that breakdown between new construction and preservation is also really key.  When you’re actually building new units, you’re increasing the supply, you’re making units available for people to move in directly from shelter, so that’s going to be really important and we think that’s an opportunity that would be extraordinarily unfortunate if it was missed. And so we’re really pushing for them to move in that direction.”

“Right now basically the Mayor is one of the only even moderately progressive City officials that has really not signed onto the House Our Future campaign. …  Just a few weeks ago, in June, we had all those elected officials send a letter to the Mayor and say, ‘Look, you need to be doing this.’ So he’s the main holdout now, and it makes sense because he’s the architect of this plan. It’s his plan, it’s City-funded, and so we need to be convincing him that this is extraordinarily worthwhile and it can’t not be done.”

Listen to the full interview here. Giselle’s segment begins around the 39:20 mark.