As New York City continues to try to and find a solution to the skyrocketing number of homeless people, it’s getting some much-needed support from Albany.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state has allocated $771 million in tax-exempt bond capacity to the city, which will be used for the construction and preservation of affordable housing.
These bonds are estimated to produce approximately 6,000 units of housing across New York City.
“The state is investing a significant amount of housing resources in New York City because they face a unique challenge,” Cuomo said. “Homelessness is exploding and affordable housing is all but disappearing. New York City needs this help from the state, which will provide thousands of units of safe, clean, affordable housing and will help alleviate this crisis.”
According to Cuomo, this year’s financing is one of the highest allocated to New York City in a decade, $80 million more than last year, and nearly $150 million above the average of the last 10 years.
While the state is spending over $770 million to help with the city’s homelessness crisis, Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent $1.6 billion over his nearly three years at Gracie Mansion, just to see the number of homeless New Yorkers climb to historic highs.
The Wall Street Journal recently released a report on the audit conducted by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and state Senator Joseph Addabbo is calling on de Blasio to be more transparent on where the taxpayers’ money is going.
“With such an extravagant price tag coming at the cost of hardworking taxpayers, we deserve more openness and honesty about how this $1.6 billion is being used. Unfortunately, this administration has been the opposite of transparent,” Addabbo said. “After pledging earlier this year to put an end to the hotel shelter policy, our mayor has instead continued to increase the number of hotels operating as homeless sites throughout the city. Each time a new location is slated to be used inappropriately for homeless individuals, we hear about it through the rumor mill instead of Mayor de Blasio taking the time to notify either the public or their elected representatives.”
One hotel site that the mayor transformed into a homeless shelter is the Holiday Inn Express located on 55th Road in Maspeth, which has seen strong community opposition since being announced in August. The senator called on de Blasio to start looking at more long-term solutions to the city’s homelessness crisis, rather than storing them away in hotel rooms.
“By now, Mayor de Blasio should have realized that the increasing amount of money spent on the homeless issue and the policy of using hotels as shelters does not work. Not only is an enormous amount of taxpayer dollars being spent fighting this issue without any transparency to the public, but the policies this administration is choosing to allocate the funds on are failing and are not resulting in long-term solutions,” Addabbo said.
The state senator suggested that the city and state consider “more viable alternatives” including rental assistance to those New Yorkers in jeopardy of losing their homes. He also called for the de Blasio administration to be more forthcoming about how the city is using funding for homeless services.
“It is time for Mayor de Blasio to change his ways and realize once and for all that shutting out the community and their elected officials is not acceptable,” Addabbo concluded. “We deserve to know how this money is being spent.”