By Bill Parry
A state lawmaker from Queens has unveiled a new fiscally and socially responsible plan to reverse the growing homeless crisis in the city and the state.
State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) rolled out his Home Stability Support plan, which would keep families in their homes and save taxpayers millions of dollars with a statewide rent supplement for individuals and families facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions.
“Having a stable home serves as a platform for people to become better parents, employees, and members of the community,” Hevesi said Tuesday. “Tens of thousands of New Yorkers and their children currently don’t have that foundation. The Home Stability Support is an effective, fiscally responsible solution. By providing the adequate rental assistance to families now, we can keep tens of thousands of people in their homes and save taxpayers millions of dollars.”
Prior to 1975, the vast majority of individuals on public assistance had their rents paid in full. However, in 1975 New York state created a shelter allowance schedule, which is a series of regulatory limits based on districts, family size, and whether or not heat is included in the rent.
As a result of inaction by the state government, the shelter allowance has failed to keep up with the rising cost of housing. For a household of three, the current shelter allowance ranges from $264 to $447 per month, whereas actual average rental costs for two bedroom apartments — suitable for a three-member family — ranges from $658 to !,608 per month, according to Hevesi, the chairman of the Assembly’s Social Services Committee.
His HSS plan would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three in New York City. Meanwhile, the cost of shelters in New York City is $38,460 for a family with children. The net savings for taxpayers in $27,236 per year.
Hevesi also anticipates savings on related services such as emergency room visits, law enforcement costs, housing court costs, and programs and shelters for runaway youth. Just preventing the process of eviction has the potential to save taxpayers millions of dollars.
A recent analysis by the New York City Bar Association found that preventing the evictions of roughly 5,000 households could save $251 million a year in New York City alone.
Last month, the city hit a record of 59,373 people in shelters. This comes at a time when New York leads the nation with it homeless population, which includes more than 130,000 children statewide, according to Hevesi. He is working with advocates to gain support for HHS among state officials and policymakers ahead of the 2017 legislative session and budget negotiations.
“We currently face the most severe homeless crisis since the Great Depression,” Hevesi said. “I look forward to partnering with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to implement the Home Stability Support.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr