Woodside’s new assemblyman says he supports new rent relief program to curb homelessness

Photo courtesy of Brian Barnwell

A new lawmaker from Woodside is jumping on board with Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi’s Home Stability Support (HSS) plan to help combat the city’s growing homelessness crisis.

Assemblyman-elect Brian Barnwell, who defeated outgoing Assemblywoman Margaret Markey in the Democratic primary and Tony Nunziato in the November election, officially announced his support for the plan on Monday, Dec. 12. Barnwell has been a staunch opponent against the city’s currently homeless policies and actively fought against turning a hotel in Maspeth into a homeless shelter.

The HSS plan would seek to create a new statewide rent supplement for families and individuals who are eligible for public assistance benefits that are facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or other hazardous living conditions.

“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.”

In 1975, the state created the shelter allowance, which was originally designed to pay the full rents of those on public assistance. Since that time the shelter allowance has failed to increase with the rising costs of rent and services, meaning more and more people are either becoming homeless, or are on the brink of homelessness.

Not only will HSS keep more people in their homes, but it will also save taxpayers millions of dollars per year. According to HSS, in New York City, HSS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three, while keeping that same family in a shelter would cost $38,460.

Barnwell joins a slew of other organizations, companies and elected officials — such as Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Councilman Daniel Dromm, Councilman Antonio Reynoso, Congressman Joe Crowley and more — in support of Hevesi’s plan.