Today’s Read: Council Members Renew Push for More Homeless Housing

In January 2018, Coalition for the Homeless launched a new campaign, House Our Future NY, designed to persuade Mayor de Blasio to align his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan with the reality of record homelessness through the construction of 24,000 new apartments and preservation of 6,000 more for homeless New Yorkers by 2026. Dozens of other organizations, from homelessness and housing groups to faith-based organizations, have joined the campaign.

Council Members and other elected officials endorsed the campaign and explored how best to advance the urgent goal of creating more permanent housing for homeless people. In October 2018, many House Our Future NY activists stood on the steps of City Hall to commend Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. for sponsoring Intro. 1211, legislation that would require all new housing developments that receive City financial assistance to set aside at least 15 percent of new apartments for homeless individuals and families. Intro. 1211 represents a critical tool needed to achieve the overall House Our Future NY Campaign goal of building 24,000 new apartments while preserving 6,000 more for homeless New Yorkers. Read more about how Intro. 1211 can help us achieve the House Our Future NY goal in this recent op-ed co-authored by Coalition for the Homeless Policy Director Giselle Routhier and Council Member Salamanca.

One year later, the House Our Future NY Campaign continues to garner support: A veto-proof majority of City Council Members have signed on as co-sponsors to Intro. 1211. We marked the anniversary of the bill’s introduction with a news conference on Wednesday, October 30th. Several elected officials spoke in strong support of both House Our Future NY and Intro. 1211. Crucially, Council Speaker Corey Johnson formally endorsed the effort to build more permanent housing for homeless New Yorkers, signaling that the tireless efforts of hundreds of advocates have brought their goals to the brink of victory.

Shant Shahrigian wrote about the news conference for the New York Daily News:

“I want to move this bill,” Johnson said after the rally. “We’ll continue to negotiate, but we’re not going to negotiate forever.”

Salamanca seconded calls from a coalition of housing groups for the city to get developers to set aside 30,000 units for homeless New Yorkers, 24,000 of them built brand new.

The pol, who chairs the Council’s Land Use Committee, said he has gotten developers in his South Bronx district to set aside 121 units of affordable housing in eight projects. He said that shows the goal of 30,000 units by 2026 is doable.

“This administration says that this model cannot work,” Salamanca said. “But I know it works because I’ve been doing it in my own district.”

“The only way to solve this crisis is for this administration to finally recognize that you cannot manage the homelessness crisis; you’ve gotta fix the homelessness crisis,” said city Controller Scott Stringer.

Nathylin Flowers Adesegun — who famously confronted de Blasio on homelessness at his gym last year — applauded Salamanca’s bill.

The mayor, she said, “is showing us no support” and “acts like he is part of the 1% and we are the 99%.”

Giselle Routhier, Policy Director for the Coalition, said at the rally: “It’s simple: Housing is a basic human right. And we need the City’s policies to match that truth.” Speaker Johnson echoed this fundamental tenet of the campaign and said: “We have thousands of people living unsheltered on the streets of New York City who are not getting the health care that they need, and we know that housing equals health care. … Housing is a human right. That is why I support Council Member Salamanca’s bill…”