Assembly Votes To Release $1 Billion For New Supportive Housing

Originally appeared in the Queens Gazette

New York State Assembly Social Services Chair Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28) announced on April 10 the New York State Assembly and New York State Senate voted to release $1 billion for the development of the first 6,000 new units of supportive housing in the next five years to address the state’s growing homelessness crisis, part of a larger promise by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to build 20,000 supportive units over the next 15 years.

“Supportive housing has proved to be an effective solution to homelessness by providing the necessary services to keep people out of shelters and off the streets,” said State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “For the chronically homeless, supportive housing offers not only a stable, permanent home, but also a support system to put them on the path to a stable life.”

“Supportive housing is vital for combating chronic homelessness and the factors that keep thousands of New Yorkers without a home,” said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi (A.D. 28), Chair of the Social Services Committee. “It is the logical solution to homelessness – supportive housing provides stable homes and support services to those in need. It will save taxpayer dollars, as it is far more cost-effective than relying on homeless shelters, and, most importantly, it works. This is a monumental step in the fight to end the homelessness crisis in New York State, and we will all benefit.” Noting that 133 members of the Assembly had signed a letter to Gov. Cuomo asking him to invest in supportive housing, Hevesi congratulated his colleagues on both sides of the aisle as the bill passed, he thanked Senator Golden and Minority Leader Kolb for their critical support, and he applauded Assembly staff  members who worked tirelessly for two years to help secure the funds.

The Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing issued the following statement: “We congratulate Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Heastie for passing a budget that keeps the promise to build the first 6,000 units of supportive housing for the homeless.  They, the members and their staffs should be commended for working tirelessly on behalf of homeless New Yorkers and communities across our state that are struggling to confront an historic housing and homelessness crisis. Because of this budget and their hard work, countless lives will be saved, families restored and communities supported.  We thank them and look forward to getting these units built and people in housing.”

Leaders of the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing applauded the outcome: “This is a win for homeless New Yorkers. We are most grateful to Governor Cuomo and the legislature for delivering the $1 billion needed to support the promise to build the first 6,000 of 20,000 promised supportive housing units in the next four years, and we urge accelerated implementation of the plan to address record homelessness,” said Shelly Nortz, Deputy Executive Director for Policy with the Coalition for the Homeless. “We thank Gov. Cuomo, the New York State Assembly, and the New York State Senate for releasing an unprecedented $2.5 billion in vitally-needed funds for supportive and affordable housing.”

“The Supportive Housing Network of New York, and our 200 members across the state are elated about today’s announcement. We are deeply grateful to Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Heastie for this visionary and judicious investment and for the hard work that went into the process” said Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch.  “Today’s actions cement New York’s well-earned reputation for inventing and bringing to scale innovative models that provide the most vulnerable people among us the opportunity for a home, health, and a life of dignity. We truly appreciate the dedicated members and staff who made this crucial goal a reality.”

Judi Kende, Vice President and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners said: “This year’s budget prioritizes low-income and vulnerable New Yorkers, and we applaud the Governor, Senate, and Assembly for their leadership and collaboration. Supportive housing is a proven, cost-saving solution that gives those with the highest barriers to housing the chance to lead healthy, successful lives. Today, our state’s leaders made a commitment that will benefit New Yorkers for years to come.”

“The journey to securing this funding was longer than expected, but we never lost sight of the thousands of homeless New Yorkers who want and deserve the chance to access the housing and services they need to better their lives,” said Kristin Miller, Director of the New York Office of the Corporation for Supportive Housing. “We are grateful the State of New York has approved the resources that open a clear path for vulnerable people to secure a brighter future, and we know the stability of having a place to call ‘home’ will make all the difference for them.”

“The Association for Community Living (ACL) thanks Governor Cuomo, along with the New York State Assembly and Senate for releasing the $2.5 billion for supportive and affordable housing,” said Toni Lasicki, Executive Director of the Association for Community Living. “We are especially thankful for the $1 billion that will be used to create 6,000 new supportive housing units state-wide.  This cost effective solution of addressing homelessness will provide housing to some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including individuals suffering with mental illness.”

New Yorkers pioneered supportive housing as a solution to homelessness in the 1980s, and New York State and New York City have jointly financed over 14,000 supportive housing units since 1990. In the first five years of the most recent supportive housing agreement, chronic homelessness among adults was reduced by 47%. More than 86% of New York/New York III tenants remained stably housed after one year.

(In 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki signed NY/NY III, committing to create 9,000 units of supportive housing for a homeless people in New York City over 10 years – the largest housing commitment ever made for homeless people in the nation.)

Supportive housing has been shown to dramatically reduce homelessness. It is especially helpful for people living with disabilities and chronic health conditions, and for those leaving foster care, shelters, psychiatric facilities and addiction treatment programs. Within the first year, detoxification visits decreased by 82%, emergency room use decreased by 58% and hospitalizations decreased by 57%.

Supportive housing has been shown to increase property values and encourage growth in neighborhoods after opening. The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that properties closest to supportive housing increased in value and experienced strong, steady growth in the following years. Real estate values increased in neighborhoods with supportive housing more than those for comparable properties located further from supportive housing units in both high- and low-density neighborhoods.