State Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi has been visiting civic associations and community boards to explain his Home Stability Support Program, which he thinks would help solve the homeless problem in New York State. Currently there are 60,000 people in homeless shelters every night. To solve this problem New York City is putting homeless families in regular neighborhood hotels, which are not the answer, so neighborhood people are demonstrating against this policy.
Queens’s neighborhood hotels are not the place for homeless families since there are about 150,000 children homeless in the state. A hotel room does not necessarily have a desk or table where children can do homework so if they do poorly in school, the teachers get the blame. Speculators stick hotels in locations without parks or even shopping areas. There are no kitchens in hotels as required by law so the city has to deliver food to them daily. Too many homeless individuals have mental or emotional problems and do not take required medicines so they disrupt communities when they are in local hotels.
Hevesi in the booklet “Home Stability Support” says “80,000 household are on the brink of homelessness in NYS.” He is the chairman of the Assembly Standing Committee on Social Services. Prior to 1975, the rents of households on public assistance were paid in full. When the shelter allowance was created in 1975, it was originally designed to pay the full rents of the vast majority of households on public assistance. However, the shelter allowance has failed to keep up with the rising costs of housing so people can’t pay their rents and have been evicted or are facing eviction…they then become homeless and the city puts them in hotels costing $600 a night.
Hevesi believes that HSS would actually save money because it would only cost $11,224 per year for a family of three to stay in their apartment, but it costs the city $38,460 for them to stay in a hotel. Stopping these evictions could save the city hundreds of millions of dollar a year. Money would also be saved for soup kitchens, emergency room visits, housing court services, and programs for runaway and homeless youths.
Not having to go to homeless shelters, often hours away from a child’s original school, would make life easier on families. Everything is tied together because a child moving around to shelters in other boroughs has less stability and is more likely to drop out of school and require expensive city services.
As of now, more than 30 City Council members are supporting this HSS program. Congressman Joseph Crowley has endorsed this plan as has Public Advocate Letitia James. Civic associations in communities where hotels are being used to house the homeless endorse this plan.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer said about 1,100 city-owned properties could be used for the homeless, although the Buildings Department says half of them are in flood zones. The Municipal Art Society says that land equivalent to 3,162 properties is available for development. Then there are ghost houses in every neighborhood which could be finished and used as homes.
GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK
With Congress set to meet one has to be mindful of past talk against Medicare and Medicare. These programs are run by the federal government and are insurance policies which workers paid for themselves. They are not government entitlements paid for by the government but by the people. The checks sent out each month keep our economy going and help our young and old. Both are financially sound. There is no Social Security crisis and it has a reserve of $2.8 trillion. The programs should really be expanded. Help more Americans remain at home as they age. Medicare should be able to negotiate the reduction in the cost of medicines people need.