Today’s Read: Bipartisan Group of Elected Officials Calls for New Program to Fight Homelessness

With record homelessness across the state, elected officials from both parties are renewing the push for a statewide rent subsidy called Home Stability Support. HSS would bridge the difference between the public assistance shelter allowance and actual rents for households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi first introduced HSS in 2016, and the proposal has since gained momentum among lawmakers who recognize the urgent need for bold solutions to homelessness. The press release from members of the New York City Council, Borough Presidents, State Assemblymembers, and State Senators can be read here.

Inexplicably, Governor Cuomo has resisted Home Stability Support – instead claiming he is doing enough through his “$20 billion anti-homeless and affordable housing plan” even though the State Division of the Budget has admitted that most of his plan is not new funding above existing levels. Meanwhile, as the Coalition recently testified, thousands more New Yorkers have fallen into homelessness since Home Stability Support was first proposed in June 2016. An astonishing 254,866 New Yorkers experienced homelessness at some point last year, whether in shelters or doubled-up – a number larger than the population of every city in the state except for New York City and Buffalo.

Kenneth Lovett wrote about the recent bipartisan calls for Home Stability Support in the Daily News:

Assembly Social Services Committee Chairman Andrew Hevesi (D-Queens) for several years has pushed the Home Stability Support program, intended to reduce reliance on homeless shelters by creating a new rent subsidy to keep people in their homes.

The measure, which has widespread bipartisan support in the Legislature and among local government officials, would cost $400 million over the first five years and then $400 million annually to keep it running.

But Hevesi has argued it would ultimately save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by relying less on costly shelters.

Two dozen Assembly members, 14 state senators and 11 city elected officials have joined in calling for the state budget to include funding for the Home Stability Support program.

The city officials include City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and a number of Council members.

“The number of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness remains at record levels, and we in city government cannot end the crisis without the support of state officials,” Johnson said.

Among Republicans supporting creation of the program is Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Cuomo in November.

Citing federal statistics, Molinaro said the state’s homeless population increased more than 40% between 2010 and 2018.

“It is clear more must be done to not only serve homeless individuals but to prevent homelessness,” Molinaro wrote in a letter of support.