Courtesy of Council Member Grodenchik
Elected officials called on Gov. Cuomo to adopt Home Stability Support at the state level to curb the growing homeless population.
By Mark Hallum

A delegation of more than 30 City Council members led by Public Advocate Letitia James formally endorsed Home Stability Support on the steps of City Hall last week.

The proposal introduced by state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) will include the rental assistance subsidy program in the state budget and takes aim at the growing homeless crisis across the city by preventing homelessness in the first place.

Councilmen Barry Grodenchik (D-Fresh Meadows) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) are among the advocates for the plan.

“New York City is facing the worst housing crisis since the Great Depression, forcing thousands of hardworking people out of their homes,” James said. “For too long, our government has employed a piecemeal approach to providing housing assistance, resulting in inefficient and inadequate support that leaves too many behind.”

The proposal will increase the state’s rental subsides to match current rental rates, which will be cheaper than the funding per family in shelters. The majority of families on government assistance before 1975 had their rent paid in full, according to the coalition advocating for HSS. But a decrease in state and federal housing funds has culminated in rising rental rates to put families at risk for losing their homes.

“In one of the wealthiest cities in the world, it is absolutely inexcusable, intolerable, and indefensible that there are increasing numbers of children, families, and individuals who are struggling to find basic shelter,” Grodenchik said. “Assembly member Hevesi’s Home Stability Support program would be a significant step forward in reversing the trend. I am happy to announce that the majority of the New York City Council backs this proposal, and I am hopeful that the Governor will consider implementing it as soon as possible.”

The coalition determined the plan has the potential to save money as an alternative to homeless shelters. HSS could cost $11,224 per year for a household of three, whereas the city spends about $38,460 annually to house a family with children in a shelter, saving taxpayers $27,236 per family a year.

“Our city has long been a leader in finding creative solutions to the greatest challenges we as a society face,” Hevesi said. “The growing homeless crisis is no different. Home Stability Support has the potential to keep thousands of New Yorkers in their own homes in a way that’s both fiscally and socially-responsible.”

The program has the potential to save as much as $251 million a year on other services, such as law enforcement, housing court and shelters for runaway youth by preventing roughly 5,000 evictions in the city alone, according to the coalition.

“We need to tap into federal resources that are available to help keep people in their homes and fund necessary homeless resources and all of this can be done while saving millions of dollars in state and city funding,” Richards said. “For those marching against homeless shelters in their neighborhoods, this is a real solution, so we ask you to march for this plan.”

A report last week from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated the homeless population in New York City to be at about 73,523 people.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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