2017-01-04 / Features

Elected Officials Endorse Home Stability Support

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

In response to New York City’s growing homeless crisis, a broad coalition of city elected officials, including Public Advocate Letitia James and 30 members of the City Council announced their endorsement in November of Home Stability Support (HSS) in an effort to increase the state’s rental assistance subsidies.

Community Board 1 (CB 1) joined the December 20 meeting of the board by voting to send a letter in support of HSS to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“As a local community board, we are alarmed by the magnitude of homelessness in New York State, and the attendant human and financial costs to our neighborhoods,” said CB 1. “Specifically, we are writing to urgently ask that you establish the Home Stability Support (HSS) program.”

Public Advocate James has written that there are more than 62,000 people sleeping every night in the city’s shelters, streets or subways. “This means there are more homeless people in New York City than at any time since the Great Depression,” said James in a December 22 New York Daily News report.

Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Assembly Social Services Committee, designed HSS as a statewide rent supplement for individuals and families facing eviction, homelessness or loss of housing due to domestic violence or hazardous living conditions, and as a replacement for all existing city and state rental supplements.

“The Home Stability Support is an effective, fiscally responsible solution,” Hevesi said, in a September 20 press release. “By providing adequate rental assistance to families now, we can keep tens of thousands of people in their homes and save taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said.

Prior to 1975, the vast majority of individuals on public assistance had their rents paid in full. But in 1975, New York State created a shelter allowance schedule, or regulated limits based on districts, family size, and whether or not heat is included in the rent.

Those shelter allowances have failed to keep up with the rising cost of housing in New York State. For example, the current shelter allowance for a household of three ranges from $264 to $447 per month, whereas actual average rental costs for two bedroom apartments suitable for a family of three ranges from $658 to $1,608 per month in the state.

HSS would cost $11,224 per year for a household of three in New York City, while the cost of shelter in the City is $38,460 for a family with children giving a net savings for taxpayers of $27,236 per year.

“The purpose of (HSS) is to keep people in their homes,” said CB 1 District Manager Florence Koulouris. “We all know the numbers (of homeless people) are rising.”

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