Photo Courtesy of John McCarten/NY City Council
“Housing stability is at the core of every person’s success, and we must fight for every New Yorker to have this right,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
By Forum Staff
The City Council on Thursday unveiled its exhaustive, 200-page report on Gotham’s homelessness crisis that boasts a plan featuring nearly 90 recommendations that prioritize preventing homelessness, increasing access to permanent housing, and enhancing support for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.
According to “Our Homelessness Crisis: The Case for Change,” approximately 80,000 people are currently enduring homelessness in the five boroughs, including more than 20,000 children.
“We can no longer simply accept this reality. It requires urgent action,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the Committee on General Welfare, wrote in a letter to New Yorkers. “Unfortunately, our federal and state governments have failed to fulfill the roles they should play in alleviating poverty. While we must continue to raise our voices and advocate that they meet their responsibilities to all of us, we, as a City, must act.”
The council’s recommendations include:
The State must pass legislation—Home Stability Support—to increase rental assistance provided to people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Housing a family of four in a traditional shelter costs $5,900 or $8,223 a month in a hotel used for shelter. That same spending could cover over five years of rent for an apartment. If the State continues to abdicate its responsibility, the City should establish a program to increase rental assistance, the council wrote.
Creation of a Deputy Mayor of Homelessness and Housing to integrate housing and homelessness policies and streamline coordination.
A safe haven system with adequate staffing and model budgets, as well as a bed for every chronic street homeless individual. Safe havens are targeted to the chronic street homeless and help people move inside by having a lower barrier of entry than traditional homeless shelters.
Enhanced aftercare programs to give people transitioning from shelter to permanent housing the supports they need.
Tools for street outreach teams to bring individuals inside, including intensive mental health teams dedicated to street homelessness and the flexibility to bypass city bureaucracy. Currently, there are no mental health teams specifically dedicated to street homelessness.
A comprehensive medical respite system that tracks the number of medically homeless and addresses their short- and long-term housing needs, thereby ending the revolving door from hospitals to homelessness.
More support for seniors at risk of homelessness. Our senior population is expected to rise by more than 165 percent by 2030. Recommendations include creating housing ambassadors and utilizing senior centers to reach at-risk seniors before they end up in the shelter system. Currently, outreach to this vulnerable population is inadequate, council members noted.
Solutions to address the barriers to the development of supportive housing, including community opposition, by establishing a council unit dedicated to working with communities to tackle concerns.
“These are not just aspirational goals. These are feasible policies that will work to help prevent homelessness, increase pathways to permanent housing, and support our neighbors experiencing homelessness,” Johnson added. “Housing stability is at the core of every person’s success, and we must fight for every New Yorker to have this right.”