Much of the conversation about homelessness lately has revolved around opposition to the siting of new shelters – but a bold proposal from Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi could dramatically reduce the need for shelters in the first place by rescuing tens of thousands of New Yorkers from homelessness.
Currently, an estimated two-thirds of households receiving public assistance and living in private housing statewide struggle to pay rents that exceed their shelter allowances, which has pushed record numbers of these families and individuals into homelessness. Assemblymember Hevesi’s Home Stability Support proposal would stanch the flow into shelters by establishing a statewide rent subsidy for public assistance households facing eviction, homelessness, or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous conditions. By helping to bridge the difference between the public assistance shelter allowance and actual fair market rents, HSS would reduce homelessness and, according to an analysis by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, thereby save hundreds of millions of dollars in averted emergency shelter costs. HSS has already garnered endorsements from an array of City and State officials from both parties, faith leaders, and advocates.
Although HSS was unfortunately not included in this year’s State budget, supporters continue to call for the adoption of this groundbreaking statewide subsidy. Recognizing the potential of HSS to stem the historic homelessness crisis, the New York City Council recently introduced a resolution in support of HSS. And, in the final weeks of the State legislative session, Assemblyman Hevesi has introduced a standalone version of the HSS bill, A.8178. Shelly Nortz, the Coalition’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy, wrote a memorandum in support of the HSS legislation, which concludes:
There are well over 60,000 homeless people staying in NYC shelters each night and 150,000 homeless children statewide. The State has reported to HUD that 19,000 more New Yorkers become homeless each year than exit homelessness. This level of homelessness is unsustainable and far too costly for the poorest New Yorkers and taxpayers alike.
By preventing and resolving homelessness simultaneously, HSS would have the power to reduce the number of people in shelters by 60 percent in NYC, and foster true housing stability for those whose homelessness is rooted in the economics of private housing costs that far exceed the incomes of those receiving public assistance.
Ultimately, HSS would more than pay for itself in savings from reduced evictions, shorter shelter stays, reduced public service costs associated with homelessness, and increased housing stability for public assistance households.
For the foregoing reasons, the Coalition for the Homeless strongly favors this legislation and urges its adoption.
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Source: Coalition for the Homeless