Rental assistance and rehousing programs helped the city hit a milestone in homelessness prevention, according to a Wednesday announcement by the departments of Social Services and Homeless Services.
More than 100,000 New Yorkers on the verge of homelessness or who were homeless exited the shelter system or avoided joining it altogether since 2014, according to DSS.
Queens lawmakers who have been champions of rental subsidy like state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) were pleased by the Oct. 24 announcement.
“This achievement proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that rental supplements are the most effective tool to combat the homeless crisis,” said Hevesi, who serves as the chair of the Social Services Committee.
Earlier this year, the assemblyman secured $15 million in rental subsidies into the state budget to help prevent homelessness in New York.
In 2016, Koslowitz formally endorsed a Home Stability Support program that Hevesi put forth in the state Legislature.
“Relocating 100,000 people out of shelters and into permanent housing is an accomplishment so immense that it is difficult to grasp. It certainly speaks to this administration’s determination to end homelessness in our city,” said Koslowitz.
Homelessness in the city grew approximately 40 percent between 2011 and 2014 from 38,000 to more than 51,000 after the city and state canceled the Advantage rental assistance program, according to DSS and DHS. Rising rents outpacing wages was also a contributing factor.
“When the city and state cut rental assistance in 2011, homelessness increased 38 percent increase in just three years. Our administration stepped in to fill the gap and aggressively rebuilt rental assistance and rehousing programs, which we’re proud to announce have helped more than 100,000 children and adults get back on their feet with dignity across the five boroughs,” said DSS Commissioner Steven Banks. “Our top priority is preventing homelessness where possible and helping New Yorkers exit shelter, stabilize their lives, and return to the communities they call home.
With tenant legal services up and evictions down 27 percent since 2014, shelter numbers have remained roughly flat for the first time in more than a decade, according to DHS census data.
“Homelessness is a decades-old challenge that wasn’t created and won’t be solved overnight,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our prevention and rental assistance efforts have helped more than 100,000 New Yorkers either avoid shelter or transition out of shelter to permanent housing. We will continue to use these strategies aggressively as we work to turn the tide on homelessness.”