Op-ed | How the new governor can help the new mayor on homelessness

After a protracted marketing campaign, Eric Adams will quickly take workplace as New York Metropolis’s new mayor, and nearly the solely factor we can make certain of is that it gained’t be lengthy earlier than his administration will probably be accused of not doing sufficient to cut back homelessness. New Yorkers all the time maintain their mayors accountable for New York Metropolis’s longstanding housing affordability disaster, however that is hardly truthful. Our leaders in Albany have a key position to play, too.  

With New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, promising “a whole new era of cooperation” between the state and the metropolis, and a progressive Legislature desperate to make a dent in the downside, actual change could possibly be on the horizon.  This mayor might lastly get the State assist he wants to finish homelessness as we all know it.

To present the newly elected Mayor Adams a head begin on homelessness and housing, Governor Hochul and the Legislature can take a couple of necessary actions in the subsequent few months:

First – earlier than the state legislative session even begins in January – Governor Hochul can ensure the Emergency Rental Help Program (ERAP) continues to get desperately wanted federal {dollars} to tenants and landlords adversely affected by the pandemic. Governor Hochul’s management has already reworked New York from the slowest state at distributing this vital help to one in all the quickest. Her efforts needs to be celebrated. However greater than 90% of New York’s share of ERAP has now been distributed, two months earlier than the state’s eviction moratorium expires, when the households most certainly to turn into homeless will lastly apply for help. The Governor should persist, and succeed, in her efforts to get Washington to reallocate ERAP funds unspent by different states to New York, or homelessness may explode in the new mayor’s first few months.  

Second, Governor Hochul can instantly signal S6573/A8009 (Kavanagh/Rosenthal) to extend how a lot lease can be paid by the State’s Household Homelessness Eviction Prevention Complement (FHEPS), the rental voucher for homeless and at-risk households. A rise in the fee normal of the State’s rental voucher is lengthy overdue, and can align it with the charges the metropolis voucher pays, which had been just lately elevated to match federal voucher charges, to raised mirror the true price of renting in New York Metropolis.

After all, that’s not all the governor can do on lease subsidies. Serving to weak households and people pay their lease is the single finest approach to forestall and finish homelessness. However Part 8, the federal lease subsidy, reaches just one out of each 5 poor households who qualify for it.

New York Metropolis has responded to this want by creating regionally funded vouchers, however the State has repeatedly refused to pay its justifiable share of the prices. In response, the Legislature has advocated establishing new, State-funded rental vouchers, most just lately underneath the proposed Housing Stability Help (HSS) program and the Housing Entry Voucher Program (HAVP). Governor Hochul can reveal actual partnership with Mayor Adams and fund each of those desperately wanted packages on a scale that may considerably scale back homelessness. This won’t solely help New York Metropolis, it can help localities throughout the state. It’s gone time for the State to step up and help to accommodate struggling New Yorkers.

Lastly, Governor Hochul can guarantee the State lives as much as its historic position of caring for our most weak, disabled and homeless residents. She can begin by rising the variety of long-term state psychiatric beds made out there to people struggling psychological well being crises.

However housing is the answer to homelessness, so it’s crucial Governor Hochul enhance the state’s manufacturing of everlasting supportive housing. She can reveal true management and enhance on – and speed up – Governor Cuomo’s promise to create 20,000 new supportive housing flats for homeless New Yorkers. And to verify we don’t lose the supportive housing models New York’s nonprofits have already constructed, Governor Hochul should additionally put aside funding to protect and keep in good restore the now getting old supportive housing models we’ve already constructed.

This dedication have to be made now, in order that manufacturing of desperately wanted supportive housing models doesn’t decelerate. However it is going to be much more vital whether it is integrated right into a new Metropolis-State supportive housing settlement with the new mayor (and mayors of huge cities throughout the state, for that matter). Three earlier agreements comprise the most profitable reasonably priced housing growth initiatives ever, pooling state and metropolis sources to create hundreds of reasonably priced flats for previously homeless people and households supported with on-site companies. The distinctive construction of those agreements ensured the Metropolis and the State would maintain one another to their particular person commitments, and helped the initiatives survive the administrations of 5 mayors and 5 governors.

The State has lengthy had duty for assembly the housing wants of weak New Yorkers, together with people with psychological sickness, households made homeless by home violence and the hundreds of individuals being launched from State prisons who at the moment are overwhelming the shelter programs in New York Metropolis and throughout the state.  And homelessness has lengthy been an unlimited, structural financial and social disaster past the potential of localities to handle on their very own.  However with a Legislature and new governor desperate to help, Mayor Adams could have an opportunity to make actual progress housing homeless New Yorkers.

Ted Houghton is the president of Gateway Housing and former Govt Deputy Commissioner of NYS Properties and Neighborhood Renewal.

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