By Bill Parry
Brian Barnwell, the 32-year-old Woodside attorney who upset longtime state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) in the Democratic primary and then won her seat easily on Election Day, isn’t waiting to be sworn in come January for his first policy statement.
Barnwell announced Monday his endorsement of the Home Stability Support Plan proposed by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), a proposal to increase outdated rental subsidies provided to New York families on the brink of homelessness. He is joining a growing coalition of city and statewide officials and advocacy groups calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include the plan in the state budget.
“Home Stability Support is the common-sense, fiscally responsible plan we need to address the growing homeless crisis,” Barnwell said. “I’m proud to join Assembly member Hevesi and legislators from all around the state in endorsing HSS. HSS will help keep people in their own homes and will prevent individuals from being evicted and forced into the dangerous shelter system. I intend to be a forceful advocate in efforts to include HSS in the next state budget because the policies we have now are failing New Yorkers and their neighborhoods.”
Barnwell was a forceful critic of the city’s efforts to convert the Maspeth Holiday Inn Express into a homeless shelter and has taken part in nightly rallies, marches and public meetings since August. Last month, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) endorsed Hevesi’s plan, joining more than 30 City Council members, who already declared their support.
“The most effective way to combat homelessness in our city is to prevent New Yorkers from becoming homeless in the first place,” Crowley said. “At a time when so many of our communities are rent-burdened and struggling to make ends meet, Home Stability Support presents a real opportunity to provide the assistance vulnerable families need to stay in their homes.”
Home Stability Support would provide a statewide rent supplement for individuals and families facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions. HSS would replace all existing city and state rental supplements that have done little to stem the tide of this growing crisis with a record 60,383 homeless in the city according to DHS.
Hevesi says HSS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three in New York City. Meanwhile, the cost of shelters in the city is $38,460 for a family with children — a net savings for taxpayers of $27,236 per year.
“As a member of Congress, I have consistently supported increased funding for federal housing assistance programs like Section 8, public housing, and the continued creation and maintenance of affordable housing stock,” Crowley said. “Now I join the growing coalition of elected officials and advocates who view Home Stability Support as a sensible proposal that will not only help reverse the trend of homelessness in our city but also provide significant savings for taxpayers. Too many New Yorkers are depending on us to act and I applaud Assemblyman Hevesi for his leadership on finding solutions to this crisis by taking steps to strike at the root of the problem.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr