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The NYS Assembly and Senate voted to release $1 billion to build 6,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years.

The State Legislature took a major step toward ending one of the worst homelessness crises the state has ever seen last week in approving the release of $1 billion to create the first 6,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years — which could benefit many Queens communities earmarked for homeless shelters.

These units will be part of a larger promise by Governor Andrew Cuomo to build 20,000 supportive units over the next 15 years.

“Supportive housing is vital for combating chronic homelessness and the factors that keep thousands of New Yorkers without a home,” said Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, who chairs the Social Services Committee. “It is the logical solution to homelessness — supportive housing provides stable homes and support services to those in need. It will save taxpayer dollars as it is far more cost-effective than relying on homeless shelters and, most importantly, it works. This is a monumental step in the fight to end the homelessness crisis in New York state, and we will all benefit.”

Through supportive housing, tenants receive not only affordable apartments, but on-site access to the services they need to remain healthy and in their apartments. Over the years, the program has been especially helpful for those living with disabilities and chronic health conditions, as well as teens being aged out of foster care, and people leaving shelters, psychiatric facilities and addiction treatment programs.

The concept of supportive housing was introduced in the 1980s as a way to combat homelessness, and the program has seen great results.

According to a press release from Hevesi, during the first five years of the last supportive housing agreement, the number of chronic homeless adults dropped by 47 percent, with more than 86 percent of New York/New York III tenants remaining stably housed after one year.

Not only is supportive housing effective at curbing homelessness, it is much more cost effective than homeless shelters or warehousing the homeless in inadequate hotel rooms.

For those worrying that supportive housing will have a negative impact on their community and property values, studies have shown that the opposite is true. Supportive housing has been shown to increase property values neighborhoods after opening, since the units often times blend into the surrounding community.

According to a 2008 study by the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, five years after supportive housing is built the properties closest to supportive housing had increased in value and experienced strong growth in the following years. Additionally, real estate values increased in neighborhoods with supportive housing more than those for comparable properties located further from supportive housing units in both high- and low-density neighborhoods.

With Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing that communities across the five boroughs will be seeing an increase in the number of homeless shelters through his “Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City” plan — specifically targeting communities with little to no homeless shelters, like the Community Board 5 area — maybe supportive housing could be a better answer.

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) and member of the Maspeth/Middle Village Task Force that went head-to-head with de Blasio last year over the potential conversion of a Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth into a homeless shelter, is agreeable with the governor’s plan, but is taking it with a grain of salt.

“That is certainly a much better option to give people homes or apartments rather than hotel rooms. I just wish the governor came out with this plan a lot earlier, it could have curtailed the homeless crisis,” Holden told QNS in a phone interview on Monday. “I just hope that these initiatives come to fruition because a lot of times they announce things during election years and they don’t follow through. You have to be skeptical of any government program announced during an election year.”

If this supportive housing plan does go through, Holden would be interested to see if the buildings actually fit in with the neighborhoods of where they are placed.

“It all depends on the implementation,” he added. “If these are going to be giant complexes with thousands of people, there might be problems with surrounding neighborhoods. If you build smaller facilities, that would make more sense. I’ll support the governor’s proposal if it is a smaller facility.”


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