Today’s Read: Governor and State Lawmakers Urged to Quickly Move $2B Into Affordable Housing Programs

With near-record numbers of New Yorkers bedding down in homeless shelters and thousands more sleeping on the streets, it is imperative that lawmakers act quickly to bring new units of lifesaving supportive housing online as soon as possible.

Supportive housing offers homeless men and women with mental illness or other special needs the dignity and stability of a home along with the on-site services they need to thrive – all while saving taxpayer dollars. The efforts of the Coalition for the Homeless and the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing recently succeeded in getting both the City and the State to make historic commitments to create 35,000 new units of supportive housing statewide.

However, there is still work to be done: The final State budget requires that Governor Cuomo and the legislative leaders sign a memorandum of understanding to release $2 billion for the State’s supportive housing initiative and broader affordable housing plan. It is critical that this MOU is signed immediately so that the first 6,000 units of supportive housing can be funded and brought online as soon as possible.

Recognizing this urgent need, housing advocates sent a letter encouraging lawmakers to expedite the MOU. The Daily News’ Kenneth Lovett wrote:

 “New York’s housing crisis is becoming more urgent with each passing day,” the letter says.

The $2 billion is part of a $20 billion multi-year commitment to address affordable housing and homelessness. Though included in the budget, just how it will be used was not spelled out.

That will be subject to a separate negotiated agreement known as a memorandum of understand among Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“While we appreciate that there are many issues to be considered prior to the conclusion of the legislative session (in June), we believe housing is a fundamental need critical to our economy and the welfare of all New Yorkers, especially vulnerable populations of children, seniors and low and middle income families,” the groups said in the letter.

The groups argue that more than half of renters across the state pay more than 30% of their income on housing costs while homelessness levels statewide has risen to more than 80,000 on any given night.