Today’s Listen: What It’ll Take to Get the Homeless Into Homes

Following Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address this week, in which he committed to creating 20,000 new units of supportive housing statewide over the next 15 years, there has been increased attention on this research-backed solution to homelessness. The Governor’s plan will add to the 15,000 units of supportive housing in New York City that Mayor de Blasio announced in November. This model pairs the stability of an affordable, permanent home with on-site services for people with mental illness, HIV/AIDS and other special needs.

The Coalition’s President and CEO, Mary Brosnahan, sat down with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer this morning to contextualize the recent developments and explain the merits of supportive housing.

“The good news is we know what works. New York pioneered this supportive housing model, and so we know it works. We know that it costs a fraction of what we squander on jail cells and emergency rooms and those types of band-aid approaches. But what we’ve seen is that if you don’t invest in housing-based solutions, relatively quickly the problem can spiral out of control.”

Additionally, as Mary clarified in response to a listener call, research shows that supportive housing actually increases local property values while simultaneously offering chronically homeless individuals the resources they need to transform their lives.

“I’ve worked now for close to 30 years at the Coalition, and I’ve yet to meet a homeless person who would turn down the offer of housing. Shelter is a whole other thing, but housing is the gold standard.”

Mary applauded the Mayor and Governor for embracing supportive housing, but called for them to sign an official fourth New York/New York supportive housing agreement. The success of the previous three City-State agreements has garnered wide bipartisan support for NY/NY IV statewide.

“[Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi], myself, and some of the folks in the State Senate today are calling on the Mayor and the Governor to actually sit down and codify a fourth New York/New York agreement. And the reason that’s so important when you talk to the people who develop the housing with on-site support services is that New York/New York Housing is such a brand name – it’s what they take to the bank to finance this housing.”

Mary appealed to the Mayor and the Governor to rise above politics and make a joint commitment to ending mass homelessness through supportive housing.

“We really need to turn the temperature down and get these two parties [the Mayor and the Governor] to sign the NY/NY agreement and to move on cooperatively. Anything else is not just a crime against homeless New Yorkers but all of us who are outraged by this scourge.”

Listen to the full interview on the WNYC website.