Today’s Read: de Blasio May Require More Homeless Housing

More than a year ago, Coalition for the Homeless launched a campaign to call on Mayor de Blasio to increase the number of apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers in his 300,000-unit Housing New York 2.0 plan to 30,000, with 24,000 of these units to be created through new construction. These apartments must be separate and apart from the Mayor’s supportive housing commitment, since both pipelines are critically needed to mitigate the historic homelessness crisis. Our emphasis on new construction is key: The Mayor’s plan relies too heavily on the preservation of existing apartments, which homeless households cannot immediately move into because they are already occupied and have an annual turnover rate of just 3 percent. Our targets would realign the Mayor’s housing plan with the reality of record homelessness and give homeless men, women, and children a real pathway out of shelters.

Our campaign, which has since been dubbed House Our Future NY, continues to gain momentum. So far, 64 partner organizations, faith leaders across the city, 32 Council Members, four Borough Presidents, the Comptroller, the Public Advocate, and thousands of other caring New Yorkers have all endorsed the campaign because they recognize the urgent need for more affordable housing for our homeless neighbors.

The campaign has organized numerous marches and rallies, confronted the Mayor at the gym and on the news, gathered petition signatures, published reports, testified at Council hearings, and garnered significant media attention. We’ve also helped rally support for Intro. 1211, which would require that all housing developments receiving City financial assistance set aside at least 15 percent of their units for homeless households. That bill now has the support of enough Council Members to override a Mayoral veto. If passed, it would establish a crucial mechanism toward reaching the House Our Future NY goal.

This campaign has succeeded in getting the Mayor to pay attention. As part of the negotiations around Intro. 1211, the administration is finally exploring ways to increase the number of affordable apartments set aside for homeless New Yorkers. We will continue to advocate around this critical issue until the City agrees to the House Our Future NY goal of 30,000 units for homeless New Yorkers, with 24,000 of those units to be created through new construction.

Janaki Chadha wrote about the ongoing negotiations for Politico:

As part of a broader overhaul, the city is considering requiring all developers who receive a subsidy for affordable housing deals to set aside a minimum of 10 percent of those apartments for homeless people. The changes would be included in new rental housing term sheets, which serve as a guideline for publicly financed housing projects, according to two people briefed on the proposal.

The plan was detailed as part of the administration’s negotiations over a bill introduced by Council Member Rafael Salamanca, which would require all subsidized residential projects to set aside 15 percent of apartments for homeless people. Salamanca said city officials presented him with these changes during discussions on the bill over the past month.

Currently, two out of the housing agency’s six term sheets for new affordable rental construction do not include guidelines for dealing with homelessness.

Salamanca argues that without a mandate written into law, the term sheet guidelines pertaining to homelessness can be avoided through negotiations on individual projects.

“We never know what will happen in the next term,” he added. “Who knows who the next mayor will be? The next administration might not have the same thought process about homelessness that we have now.”

Council Speaker Corey Johnson said last week he supports Salamanca’s bill, which currently has enough sponsors to override a mayoral veto.

Activists have called on the mayor to set aside more homeless housing in his broader plan to build or preserve 300,000 affordable housing units by 2026.