What Council Speaker Corey Johnson called a “revolutionary change in policy” passed in the chamber Thursday and could finally deliver stable housing to families experiencing homelessness.
Intro 1211 by city Councilman Rafael Salamanca, will require housing developers receiving city funds to reserve 15 percent of units for homeless New Yorkers, a goal which will provide affordable housing and bring relief to the city’s shelters which house well over 60,000 people.
“This bill will do more to fight homelessness in New York City than any other actions that has been taken in the last 10 years,” Councilman Stephen Levin said while voting in favor of the bill. “The fact there are 20K children in shelters every night… is something we should all be ashamed of.”
Under the bill, the Department of Housing and Preservation would enforce the regulation and provide an annual report for both the mayor and council speaker on the number of affordable units created.
“Building more shelters is not the solution, we need to build more affordable housing and have statutory set-asides for people who have fallen on hard times,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said voting in the affirmative. “Next year we really need to turn the heat on Albany to get them to pony-up to provide funding for a real and robust rental subsidy program.”
The motion passed 38 in favor and 3 opposed in the stated meeting which was the last of the year and saw several members absent.
“This historic vote today represents a major turning point in combating the city’s record homelessness crisis,” “This historic vote today represents a major turning point in combating the city’s record homelessness crisis,” Giselle Routhier, Policy Director at Coalition for the Homeless, said. “By codifying a requirement on a project-by-project basis, this bill could create 1,000 additional apartments each year for the New Yorkers who need them.
VOCAL-NY as well as Nathylin Flowers, who gained notoriety after confronting Mayor Bill de Blasio about homelessness while in his Brooklyn gym, campaigned in favor of Intro 1211 for months leading up to its passage.
“My lifetime fighting for racial and social justice taught me that change only comes when people fight together, confront power, and demand what is right,” Flowers, now a leader in VOCAL-NY, said. “The bill we passed today is simple and right. At its core, it legislates that government must serve the needs of the people. We look forward to many more victories like this one, because we need to ensure everyone has a home.”
The bill will become effective 180 days after Thursday passage.
This story first appeared on amny.com.