Both New York City and New York State face a pressing problem: There is an increasing number of homeless or nearly-homeless people.
The homelessness crisis is palpable. New Yorkers see it every day on the streets, on subway stations, in parks, in shelters, in schools.
The statistics do not lie: There are more than 150,000 homeless minors in the state, and over 80,000 families are at risk of losing the roof over their heads.
According to the Coalition for the Homeless, there are 83 percent more homeless people in the city than 10 years ago. It is estimated that, in 2016, more than 127,000 people – men, women and children – slept on the streets of the Big Apple.
This must stop. The City and the State must come up with a prompt solution to rein in the crisis that is consuming thousands of families.
At the state level, a bill introduced by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi seeks to replace housing protection programs with an expanded one that would prevent the eviction of thousands of families.
The measure, called “Home Stability Support” (HHS,) aims to consolidate public assistance and would operate as a state equivalent to Section 8. It would pay 85% of rent, and it would be financed with federal funds, easing the burden on municipalities.
Other advantages of the HHS program would be a reduction of shelter costs and of the number of people who would require their services.
The proposal is welcome at a moment when many areas in the city are reluctant to accept the part of Mayor de Blasio’s initiative that would locate more homeless shelters in Brooklyn and The Bronx neighborhoods. Moreover, New York City would save itself the collateral expenses allocated to other services for the homeless.
De Blasio has admitted that the homelessness problem cannot be solved overnight.
Still, a joint effort of the State Legislature, the office of the governor and City Hall can create a light at the end of the tunnel and allow more families have a safe place to live.
The commitment with the residents of the state and the city must prevail over political interests. We need to put an end to the homelessness crisis.