Today’s Read: Advocates to Protest de Blasio Administration as Homeless Housing Bill Remains in Flux
When Bill de Blasio ran on a campaign to “end the tale of two cities” in the 2013 mayoral race, many New Yorkers were hopeful that he would take bold action to tackle the homelessness crisis. Faith leaders, who had organized an annual sleep-out at City Hall Park since the Koch administration to call for elected officials to truly address homelessness, decided to stop the annual vigil once Mayor de Blasio took office. But nearly six years later, homelessness continues to hover near all-time records, and the Mayor has obstinately refused to dedicate more of his Housing New York 2.0 plan to help New Yorkers move into homes of their own. The Mayor’s new goal is to reduce the number of people in shelters by a mere 2,500 people over five years – hardly the bold vision on which he had campaigned. Without further housing commitments, the City is on track to miss even that uninspiring target.
Dismayed by the lack of progress and the Mayor’s apparent acceptance of record homelessness, the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing will once again hold an overnight vigil at City Hall Park starting at 6 p.m. tonight (view the event flyer here). Many members of the faith community have been vocal participants in the House Our Future NY Campaign, which for nearly two years has urged Mayor de Blasio to align his housing plan with the reality of record homelessness by setting aside 30,000 apartments out of his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan for homeless New Yorkers, with 24,000 of those apartments to be created through new construction. Despite repeated calls from homeless people, a majority of City elected officials, 67 endorsing organizations, and hundreds of other concerned New Yorkers, the Mayor has resisted this commonsense and urgent campaign. Tonight’s overnight vigil is another attempt to appeal to the Mayor’s conscience in the face of persistent record homelessness.
Janaki Chadha wrote about tonight’s overnight vigil for Politico:
The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, which held similar “sleep-outs” annually between 1985 and 2013, stopped holding the actions when de Blasio took office in 2014. But the group says he has failed to live up to his promises, making such an action necessary once again.
“The biggest thing that the mayor can do is actually align his historic housing plan with the rise in homelessness, and he has stubbornly refused to do that,” said Giselle Routhier, policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless, which is also involved in organizing Thursday’s action.
The group’s priority is new construction of apartments for people coming out of homeless shelters, and they are pushing the administration to build 24,000 new units of homeless housing as part of de Blasio’s plan.