Today’s Read: de Blasio has no Comprehensive Plan to Rehouse the Homeless

Tonight, a near-record 62,166 New Yorkers will go to sleep in homeless shelters, and thousands more will bed down on the streets. Mayor de Blasio, meanwhile, has chosen to dedicate a mere 5 percent of his Housing New York 2.0 plan to homeless New Yorkers – a conscious decision to under-utilize one of the key tools that could finally reduce homelessness in NYC. The Coalition launched the House Our Future NY campaign this year to urge the Mayor to designate 30,000 apartments for homeless households (10 percent of his Housing New York 2.0 plan), with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction. We have grown the campaign to include dozens of organizations, hosted a successful Kids’ Marchwon the support of a majority of City elected officials, and caught the attention of the media. This morning, House Our Future NY activists met Mayor de Blasio outside his gym to ask why he continues to be the only major elected official in NYC to resist this sensible plan to help homeless men, women, and children.

On October 24th, we will march to Gracie Mansion to deliver a petition with hundreds of signatures to the Mayor to show the broad support for this campaign. If you haven’t already done so, please sign our petition!

Paulette Soltani from VOCAL-NY, which is among the 58 House Our Future NY endorsers, wrote about the urgent need for Mayor de Blasio to change course in an op-ed for City Limits:

Beyond providing New Yorkers with subpar vouchers to find housing, de Blasio has a bigger stain on his record when it comes to housing the homeless: his Housing New York 2.0 plan. Out of the 300,000 units of affordable housing in his plan, the mayor has committed only 15,000 units—five percent—for the homeless.

His defense of this utterly insufficient commitment is shameful. He’s been asked by homeless individuals, advocates, and reporters if he will increase his commitment from 15,000 units to 30,000 units of housing (with 24,000 units of new construction) to meet the desperate need of homeless people in our city. “No,” he answers, “our best hope going forward is the preventative efforts and the broader efforts to raise wages and benefits.”

“No” is not an acceptable answer. Preserving housing and slowing evictions won’t rehouse over 61,000 people; the creation of new shelters won’t rehouse over 61,000 people; a $15 minimum wage won’t rehouse over 61,000 people. In fact, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, a person living in New York City would need to earn a $30 minimum wage for a 40-hour work week—that is double the $15 minimum wage that has not yet been phased in.

But the mayor is not claiming that any of these efforts will rehouse 61,000 people. That would be deceitful. What he’s telling us instead, unabashedly, is that he has no real plan to put people back in homes and that doing so is not his priority. If it was a priority, de Blasio would not be facing mounting pressure from homeless activists, advocates, and city officials to dedicate a modest 10 percent of his House New York 2.0 plan to house homeless people.

Why aren’t homeless New Yorkers a priority to the progressive mayor who campaigned on fairness? Why doesn’t he dedicate adequate resources to rehouse them? Whatever his reasoning is, we should not accept it. The most deserving New Yorkers are the ones that need the most support. Any progressive mayor, elected official, or living person should agree.