By Bill Parry
Borough President Melinda Katz has joined a growing coalition of advocates in calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support the Home Stability Support program introduced by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), and urge its inclusion in the state budget ahead of the April 1 deadline. The measure would create a new rental subsidy for families facing homelessness due to eviction or domestic violence.
Katz joined the Borough Presidents of the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn in touting the proposal as a solution to the homeless crisis in New York City, where rising housing costs coupled with woefully inadequate shelter allowances had led 127,000 New Yorkers to sleep in shelters during the last fiscal year ending in 2016. While rental subsidies in the city and across the state have averaged between $200 and $400 for a family of three, Fair Market Rents, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, are often many times that. In the five boroughs, the 2017 Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in $1,637, up 4.2 percent from the previous year.
“Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi has developed a strong statewide plan to keep folks in their homes while saving taxpayer money. It is pragmatic, and I support it,” Katz said. “The enhanced assistance called for in (the) Home Stability Support proposal would close the gap that allow more people to stay in their homes, while also reducing the costs associated with sheltering the homeless. Home Stability Support is an effective, cost-efficient way to reduce the need for homeless shelters, which offer less than ideal living conditions and are often sited in inappropriate locations.”
Since first being introduced last fall, the Home Stability Support coalition has picked up the endorsement of more than 100 non-profit organization, mayors and county executives across the state, the Senate’s IDC and mainline Democratic conferences, and over 110 members of the State Assembly. Hevesi says HHS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three living in New York City. 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.
In a recent analysis by Comptroller Scott Stringer found that by its tenth year of operation, Home Stability Support would save the city $316 million in social service costs provided to homeless families. Last week Hevesi visited with students and administrators at the Association for Metroarea Autistic Children, in Manhattan, to raise awareness for the proposal for his fiscally and socially responsible plan.
The students are among 186 school-aged autistic students from all across the city that attend AMAC. The school serves a diverse student population, with many coming from the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.
As a result, 7 percent of the student population lives in homeless shelters. As parents are quick to point out, this places additional burdens on their special needs children.
“The stories of these students and their parents are a testament to why Home Stability Support is necessary now, more than ever, to keep families in their homes,” Hevesi said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr