James, Councilmembers Demand Changes in Homeless Policy

Charging that New York’s homeless problem has become a growing crisis, Public Advocate Letitia James and several city councilmembers are calling on the state to institute major changes in the way people in need receive assistance.

Brooklyn Councilmembers Vincent Gentile, Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso were among the elected officials who joined James at a press conference outside City Hall on Nov. 22 to announce their endorsement of a bill sponsored by Queens Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi to create a Home Stability Support (HSS) plan to increase the state’s rental assistance subsidies.

Today’s Video: Experts Discuss Housing MOU

As more than 80,000 homeless New Yorkers brace themselves for another brutally cold winter, elected leaders in Albany continue to delay the release of funds for desperately needed supportive housing – a provencost-effective solution to chronic homelessness for people with mental illness or other special needs.

The issue should have been resolved months ago: The budget that was passed in April included funds for the first 6,000 units of Gov. Cuomo’s commitment to create 20,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years. But those funds were unnecessarily subjected to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to be negotiated by Gov. Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Despite record homelessness statewide and persistent pressure by advocates, the MOU is still MIA.

Take action to help us reach our goal of sending 20,000 messages to Albany – one for every supportive housing unit promised – to urge the Governor and Legislature to fulfill the supportive housing commitment!

Father Stephen Mimnaugh, Laura Mascuch of the Supportive Housing Network of New York and Reverend Emily McNeil of the Labor-Religion Coalition urged State leaders to sign the MOU during a segment on Capital Tonight:

“Governor Cuomo has shown that when he really prioritizes something, he’s been able to be a strong leader and make it happen. So we trust that, in this situation as well, Governor Cuomo could really take the lead and make this happen. Basically, what needs to happen for the 20,000 units of supportive housing that he promised a year ago to go forward is that he and Senator Flanagan and Assemblyperson Heastie need to sign this memorandum of understanding.” – Reverend Emily McNeil

“We have 20,000 people that are homeless in the rest of the state, and 60,000 in the city, so really time is of the essence to get this supportive housing built, which is really the answer to individuals and families who have been chronically homeless with special needs. If not for supportive housing, they are going to stay homeless. Yes, there’s a lot of noise right now, there’s a lot of issues, but we really, really hope that the Governor and the Legislature can come together and just get this done because it really is not dependent on anything else – it just needs to be negotiated.” – Laura Mascuch

“I think the Governor, because of his history, is firmly committed to advocating and acting on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. … Yes, we are going to remind the Governor of the promises that he made, but I suspect that the Governor remembers very, very well the promises that he made. But that being said, these exemplary promises that we really admire – his commitment to 20,000 units – we just want to see delivery of this. And we don’t want the delivery of supportive housing units to get bogged down in the political process between the Governor and the Legislature when there are people who will benefit from the expansion of permanent supportive housing.” – Father Stephen Mimnaugh

Watch the full video.

Most New Yorkers are Roughly 1 Paycheck Away From Homelessness: Study

More than half of all New Yorkers are teetering on the brink of homelessness — without enough cash in the bank to cover them in the event of a disaster or lost job, a troubling new study has found.

Nearly 60 percent of all New Yorkers don’t have enough emergency savings to cover at least three months’ worth of household expenses like food, housing and rent, according to a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development.

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