City Officials Call on Cuomo’s Help With City’s Homeless Crisis

Homeless

More than half a dozen elected officials and advocates stood together on the steps of City Hall yesterday to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to take action against the homelessness crisis facing New York City by passing the Home Stability Support (HSS) resolution.

If Cuomo signs onto the idea, HSS will be a new statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits and who are facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions. HSS will be 100% federally and state-funded, and will replace all existing optional rent supplements.

Public Advocate Letitia James
Public Advocate Letitia James

“We are in a crisis and we need forward thinking solutions and there are many steps we can take with the state to prevent homelessness. A meaningful solution must come from the state backed by federal funding and the Home Stability Support program is just what we are looking for,” said Public Advocate, Letitia James. “It’s a financially responsible proposal. It will reduce our dependence on shelters and hotels and cut down on the significant cost of homelessness.  

Currently there are over 60,000 homeless individuals throughout New York City, with over 14,000 of them being families and 23,000 of them being children. The city is facing its largest population of homelessness since the Great Depression.

According to the HSS website, the current shelter allowance for households of 3 including children is $264-$447 a month, while the cost of living for a two-bedroom apartment for a household of three is $658-$1608.

As Cuomo is currently in the process of drafting the executive budget for Fiscal Year ’17-18, HSS advocates want Cuomo to allocate $450 million for the program.  

Advocates for the proposal say under this allocation the cost of shelters would be cut down by a third as it will keep people in their homes with rent subsidies rather than have the city and state foot the bill for them to live in temporary housing.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams
City Councilman Jumaane Williams

“Housing is a right. It’s hard to do anything else, if you don’t have permanent housing. It’s hard to come home and study for school if you don’t have permanent housing. It’s hard to get well from a sickness if you come home and don’t have affordable, permanent housing,” said City Council Member Jumaane Williams (Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood). “A healthy community starts with housing and people living there and building that community up.”

“We need this and it’s essential now. This is a common sense solution. We need resources, we need funds and we need HSS to work,” Williams added.

Most recently, Cuomo announced that $771 billion will be allocated in tax-exempt bond capacity to the city to be used for the construction and preservation of affordable housing. This is expected to create 6,000 units of housing for those in need. The funding is up by $80 million over last year, according to Cuomo.

Queens lawmakers Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi and Councilman Barry Grodenchik drafted the original proposal and it has received the endorsement of 30 city and state lawmakers.

Cuomo’s finalized executive budget is expected before the end of the year.

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