Today’s Read: Pushing Gov. Cuomo to Dole Out Promised $2 Billion for Affordable Housing

With less than a month left of the State legislative session and near-record numbers of New Yorkers bedding down in shelters and on the streets, the time is now for the Governor and legislative leaders to take action on homelessness.

In his State of the State address in January, Governor Cuomo announced an historic commitment to supportive housing – a cost-effective model proven to break the cycle of chronic homelessness for people living with mental illness and other special needs.

This commitment is commendable, but it means nothing until the actual funds are released for the first 6,000 supportive housing units. The final State budget subjected the $2 billion in affordable housing funds to a memorandum of understanding to be signed by the Governor, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan before the funds can be released for use. But Gov. Cuomo made his supportive housing announcement 130 days ago, and New Yorkers are still waiting for these funds to be released.

Kenneth Lovett wrote in the Daily News about the urgency of an MOU:

The Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing is calling on Cuomo to cut a deal with the Legislature to release the $2 billion for affordable housing agreed to in the state budget adopted on April 1.

“The fact that nothing has happened for almost two months can only mean one of two things: either his administration is paralyzed by the various investigations or his commitment was nothing more than political theater from the beginning,” one Albany insider groused.

Cuomo announced in his joint state of the state/budget speech in January a $20 billion plan to address affordable housing and the growing homeless problem.

The $2 billion agreed to in the state budget was the first down payment, though it was not spelled out how it would be spent.

That was left up to Cuomo and the legislative leaders to negotiate later as part of a memorandum of understanding.

“Promises don’t build housing,” said Mary Brosnahan, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. “Tens of thousands of homeless New Yorkers await the governor to take immediate action and make good on his promise to build supportive housing. We need Gov. Cuomo’s leadership to secure the required MOU.”