Queens assemblyman pushes Cuomo to fund program fighting homelessness

Max Parrott/QNS

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets closer to submitting his proposed Executive Budget in mid-January, a group of state legislators called on him to initiate a new program to combat the rising tide of displacement across the state.

Forest Hills Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and East Side Manhattan Senator Liz Krueger sent a letter — signed by more than 100 elected officials across New York state in the Assembly and Senate — on Dec. 17 calling on Cuomo to find funding for the Home Stability Support (HSS) program. 

The Home Stability Support (HSS) program is “the most cost-effective means to prevent homelessness,” the group wrote in their letter. 

The HSS rent supplement would bridge the difference between the current financial subsidies aimed at preventing eviction and 85 percent of the fair market rent, as determined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The proposal predicts that roughly 80,000 households would be eligible initially. Local districts would have the option to further raise the supplement up to 100 percent of the fair market rent at local expense. 

Hevesi, the chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee has been fighting for the program for years.

“I believe that since Gov. Cuomo is the only person standing in the way that we have a very good shot this year,” Hevesi told the Daily News in March.

But the 74 assembly members and 27 senators who signed the letter will have to contend with a $6.1 billion budget gap in negotiating for the program in the upcoming fiscal year.

The plan is expected to cost the state $80 million annually, but its proponents argue in the letter that the growing cost of homeless shelters would go beyond that of the subsidy. 

“[It] is the only policy that will stop the rapid growth of the homeless crisis in New York State,” the letter reads.