Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato called Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to address homelessness “misguided and irresponsible.”
By Michael V. Cusenza
Two area legislators have introduced a bill that would require the City to release a neighborhood impact statement prior to establishing a homeless shelter in a community.
State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) indicated that they crafted the measure after several communities in their districts, including Rockaway and Ozone Park, were selected for homeless shelters with little to no community outreach — with the public or local elected officials — or consideration to other factors such as infrastructure and mass transportation in the area or community concerns.
The Senate bill would require the City to conduct and release a neighborhood impact study for the area where a homeless shelter would be sited. The study would document the number and locations of daycare centers, schools, parks, playgrounds, senior centers, infrastructure and other information that the City Council deems relevant, Addabbo noted.
“In order to deal with the city’s homelessness crisis, the mayor has decided to do away with cluster apartments to instead create large-scale homeless shelters in local communities,” the senator said. “While each community wants to do their part to help with the crisis, there needs to be a practice where the community is involved in the early stages of the selection process and the concerns of residents can be address before a site is finalized.”
Addabbo also posited that in order to tackle the complex issue of homelessness, the government must put forth policies that address the long-term issues that sometimes lead to homelessness such as affordable housing, creating jobs, and mental health treatment, along with alcohol and substance abuse rehabilitation.
In February 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled “Turning the Tide on Homelessness, Neighborhood by Neighborhood,” his 114-page vision to address the homelessness crisis outlines the timing and logistics of ending the use of 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities. Replacing the sites will be 90 traditional shelters distributed across the five boroughs. According to the administration, the new network will be able to more effectively house the homeless near the communities, jobs, school, houses of worship and support systems needed to help them get back on track.
“The mayor’s proposal to address homelessness is misguided and irresponsible — placing vulnerable individuals in an area with no resources to support them, without inclusion of community stakeholders, is a failed plan for everyone,” Pheffer Amato said. “I thank Senator Addabbo for introducing this vital piece of legislation, and I am proud to introduce this bill in the Assembly. The City must include us in the conversation — and this bill seeks to do just that.”
Last week, Pheffer Amato also emphasized her support of Home Stability Support: a 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 would be 100 percent federally and state-funded, and would replace all existing optional rent supplements. The HSS Act, which is sponsored by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and cosponsored by Pheffer Amato, has passed both legislative chambers and is being considered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.