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With Queens seeing the opening of one homeless shelter after another, many have suggested the city find another way to address the homelessness crisis. One Forest Hills-based lawmaker has put forth an idea to keep people in their homes.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi unveiled on Tuesday a program called Home Stability Support (HSS), a new statewide rent supplement for people facing eviction or loss of housing due to domestic violence or unsafe conditions. HSS would replace existing supplements, which have done little to curb the rising trend of New York’s homeless population.

 

Last month, NYC counted a record 59,373 people in shelters managed by the Department of Homeless Services, consistent with New York State currently leading the country in homeless people, 130,000 of whom are children.

“We currently face the most severe homeless crisis since the Great Depression,” Hevesi said in a press release.

The problem is that current rent supplements don’t reflect the rising cost of housing. The current shelter allowance per month ranges between $264 and $447 for a family of three. The average rental cost for a two-bedroom apartment ranges between $658 and $1,608 statewide.

HSS would cost $11,224 annually for a family of three in NYC, compared to the current rate of $38,460 to house a family with children in an NYC shelter for a year.

Hevesi also forecasts that merely preventing eviction will save taxpayers millions by avoiding emergency room costs, housing court costs and other collateral costs associated with homelessness. A study done by the NYC Bar Association found that stopping evictions in 5,000 households could save taxpayers $251 million in NYC alone.

“Having a stable home serves as a platform for people to become better parents, employees and members of the community,” Hevesi said.

Hevesi is currently working to gain support for HSS among his colleagues in the state legislature ahead of next year’s session.

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