Today’s Read: There’s a Pressing Issue on Our City’s Streets

It’s difficult for any of us to walk down the streets of our city this summer and be confronted by the visible suffering of our homeless neighbors. There are so many who need help, and it’s hard to know what to do. One way to help is to urge elected officials to invest in solutions that are proven to help get people off the streets and into stable homes. Supportive housing, which pairs on-site services with permanent affordable apartments, can effectively end chronic homelessness.

Supportive housing helps people with mental illness and other special needs remain stably housed for the long term and also saves taxpayer money. This explains why both Democratic and Republican administrations alike have embraced supportive housing as a solution since 1990.

But despite the tremendous success of this model, the City and the State are currently in a stalemate over funding for another NY/NY agreement. To address the current unprecedented need, Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo must commit to funding 35,000 new units of supportive housing statewide over the next ten years.

Nick Powell wrote about the importance of a new NY/NY supportive housing agreement in City & State:

Building supportive housing would not require a Herculean legislative effort between the city and Albany, nor would it necessitate a supplemental proposal to de Blasio’s robust affordable housing plan: A comprehensive agreement between the city and the state has already been in place for 25 years, thanks to the NY/NY initiative, which has created 50,000 units of supportive housing statewide since its inception in 1990. Yet the program is set to expire in June 2016.

“[NY/NY] is a big piece of the puzzle,” says City Council member Steve Levin, the chair of the Committee on General Welfare. “It all adds up to a bigger picture, this happens to be a big piece of that. Historically, this has been part of our system now for 25 years, and this is our shot at it for this decade.”

“The bottom line is that we have a steady presence of people with serious mental illnesses and other serious disabilities, who are unable to live independently in the housing market,” says Shelly Nortz, deputy director of policy at the Coalition for the Homeless. “And we’re just not producing enough of that to meet the demand.”