‘The homeless shelter system is family business’: Queens pol butts heads with Cuomo over housing crisis


A Queens lawmaker says he is immune to personal attacks by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office and they will never stop him from trying to bring and end to New York state’s homeless crisis.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi introduced the Home Stability Support legislation in 2016 and it has overwhelming, veto-proof support from 120 members of the Assembly, 34 state senators, a majority of the City Council and the borough presidents of Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx as well as mayors across the state.

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

An analysis by City Comptroller Scott Stringer found that by its tenth year of operation, HHS would save the city $316 million in social service costs provided to homeless families and still it is blocked by Cuomo during budget negotiations.

“He is the only elected official I’ve talked to that is against the legislation,” Hevesi said. “Why? Because he has gotten close to three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign donations from the people that have a financial interest in more people becoming homeless. We have to recognize that Cuomo is in the homeless shelter business and for the eighth year in a row since he took office the number of homeless statewide has grown each year.”

Hevesi accused Cuomo of benefiting from the crisis through HELP USA, a nonprofit he founded with family members which his sister Maria Cuomo Cole chairs.

“The homeless shelter system is Cuomo family business,” Hevesi said.

The Governor’s Senior Advisor Rich Azzopardi said it was shameful that Hevesi brought family into the argument to “pad his sham conspiracy theory.” He called it a cynical cheap shot that reeks of politics.

“His assertion is garbage and he should be ashamed of himself,” Azzopardi said. “The governor has been very clear and he always says, anyone who can be influenced by a single dollar has no place in government and that is true now as it was the day then-Attorney General Cuomo busted his father for selling the pension fund to the highest bidder.”

The assemblyman’s father, former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi, served 20 months in prison after he admitted taking $1 million from a pension-fund investor in a case prosecuted by Cuomo in 2010.

Undeterred, Andrew Hevesi says he won’t be swayed by the personal attacks, nor will he back down from his belief in Home Stability Support.

“Every time they bring up my father, I know I’m winning,” the assemblyman said. “This is their stock response and every time they use it, it reassures me that they are unable to argue my issues substantively be it the homeless crisis, domestic violence funding or cutting finds to vulnerable kids. They attack me personally and it will never stop me from trying to bring an end to our homeless crisis.”

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